Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Getting to visit 16 countries in a year isn't too shabby.  So here's a shout out to all of the countries I visited this year.

Happy New Year! Šťastný Nový Rok! سنة جديدة سعيدة! Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! Շնորհավոր Նոր Տարի! Bonne Année! Yeni iliniz mübarək! С Новым Годом! Sretna Nova godina! გილოცავთ ახალ წელს! Glückliches neues Jahr! Boldog Új Évet! Срећна Нова година! Hamingjusamur Nýtt Ár! Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Time

PF 2013
It's been Christmas time at the malls for quite some time.  But now it's really Christmas time.

The carp vendors are out in the city.

We went out today and spent some time at the Christmas market.  I made sure to get my favorite Vánoční punč - made from black tea, orange juice, lemon, cinnamon, honey and triple sec, topped with whipped cream.  Absolutely delicious!!

Merry Christmas everyone!!  And to my very international team at work... Merry Christmas! Veselé Vánoce! Veselé Vianoce! عيد ميلاد سعيد! Geseënde Kersfees! Gëzuar Krishtlindjet! Sretan Božić! Весела Коледа! Gelukkig Kerstfeest! З Різдвом Христовим! Joyeux Noël! میری کرسمس! Fröhliche Weihnachten! חג המולד שמח! Nollaig Shona! Buon Natale! Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus! मेरी क्रिसमस! Linksmų Kalėdų! Среќен Божиќ! Selamat Hari Natal! Wesołych Świąt! Feliz Natal! Crăciun fericit! С Рождеством! ¡Feliz Navidad!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Blog Contest Results

Yeah!!  I repeated as the top expat blogger for Czech Republic.  Thanks to everyone who voted!

This year's contest was much different from last year.  I'm not sure that having the contest around Christmas was the best time to hold it as most people tend to be quite busy.  This may have deterred my main challengers from last year from entering this year's contest.  None the less, it does feel quite nice to have won again.  Congrats to the runner up - Czechesotans

Here's was my original entry...

Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic


1.  Czechia (Czech Republic) is located in Central Europe; not Eastern Europe.  Just look at a map and it's clear that it's located right in the middle of the continent.  Eastern Europe has negative connotations.  Most of the former communist countries want to be found in Central Europe.  Even Belarus claims to be in the center of Europe.  I guess that's true if you consider Europe running from Iceland to the far eastern bit of Russia.  Regardless, Czechland is perfectly centered for travel which is why in less than five years I've been lucky enough to visit 43 countries.

2.  Patience really is a virtue.  Anyone who has spent time in a former communist country knows all about the mindless bureaucracy required in order to get even the smallest thing done.  However, what can be even more draining is just everyday life with a foreign language.  Simple, mundane things such as going grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or mailing a package at the post office can require an awful lot of energy.  It's important to never give up.  OK, sometimes you buy sour cream instead of coffee creamer but as long as you don't make the same mistake twice then you at least get a humerous anecdote out of it.

3.  You never know where life will take you.  I grew up during the Cold War.  When I joined the U.S. military, we still taught German, Czech and Polish.  Times change.  Who would have thought that 20 years later I would work for IBM in Czech Republic?  Much less regularly visit East Berlin, have a Bulgarian boyfriend or be Godfather to the prettiest little German-Hungarian princess.

4.  Carefully choose your words.  Just because two people speak English doesn't mean that they speak the same language.  In school, most Europeans learn British English.  Therefore it's often better for me to adjust my vocabulary in order to better communicate.  Elevator becomes lift, apartment becomes flat, and pants become trousers while underwear becomes pants.  It can be a bit confusing at times.  For example, I once called a Romanian girl "chica" which means 'girl' in Spanish and is commonly used in the USA.  Imagine my surprise when I received a lecture about how she didn't appreciate being called "a chicken". 

My most recent English-language blunder was referring to the loo (restroom, WC, toilet) as the "little boys' room".  The next five minutes trying to explain how the little boys' (or little girls') room has nothing to do with pedophilia wasn't exactly fun.

Once I was in a hurry and said that "I was off like a prom dress."  Big mistake.  Huge!  For the next 40 minutes I had to explain what an American high school prom was and why a dress would come off.  Forty minutes of my life that I will never get back.  Lesson learned...save the colloquial expressions for other native speakers.

5.  It has never been easier to be an expat.  I don't think that I could have been an expat 20 years ago.  Aside from e-mail and Skype to keep me connected to family and friends, there are a whole slew of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  The Internet provides an incredible amount of information to help people get started.  My blog started out simply as a personal journal so that my family could keep up with my adventures.  I would never have guessed that I would receive +125 new visitors per day from all over the world.  With all of the expat blogs available there really is no reason not to get started.

Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic
1.  Czechia (Czech Republic) is located in Central Europe; not Eastern Europe.  Just look at a map and it's clear that it's located right in the middle of the continent.  Eastern Europe has negative connotations.  Most of the former communist countries want to be found in Central Europe.  Even Belarus claims to be in the center of Europe.  I guess that's true if you consider Europe running from Iceland to the far eastern bit of Russia.  Regardless, Czechland is perfectly centered for travel which is why in less than five years I've been lucky enough to visit 43 countries.
2.  Patience really is a virtue.  Anyone who has spent time in a former communist country knows all about the mindless bureaucracy required in order to get even the smallest thing done.  However, what can be even more draining is just everyday life with a foreign language.  Simple, mundane things such as going grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or mailing a package at the post office can require an awful lot of energy.  It's important to never give up.  OK, sometimes you buy sour cream instead of coffee creamer but as long as you don't make the same mistake twice then you at least get a humerous anecdote out of it.
3.  You never know where life will take you.  I grew up during the Cold War.  When I joined the U.S. military, we still taught German, Czech and Polish.  Times change.  Who would have thought that 20 years later I would work for IBM in Czech Republic?  Much less regularly visit East Berlin, have a Bulgarian boyfriend or be Godfather to the prettiest little German-Hungarian princess.
4.  Carefully choose your words.  Just because two people speak English doesn't mean that they speak the same language.  In school, most Europeans learn British English.  Therefore it's often better for me to adjust my vocabulary in order to better communicate.  Elevator becomes lift, apartment becomes flat, and pants become trousers while underwear becomes pants.  It can be a bit confusing at times.  For example, I once called a Romanian girl "chica" which means 'girl' in Spanish and is commonly used in the USA.  Imagine my surprise when I received a lecture about how she didn't appreciate being called "a chicken".
My most recent English-language blunder was referring to the loo (restroom, WC, toilet) as the "little boys' room".  The next five minutes trying to explain how the little boys' (or little girls') room has nothing to do with pedophilia wasn't exactly fun.
Once I was in a hurry and said that "I was off like a prom dress."  Big mistake.  Huge!  For the next 40 minutes I had to explain what an American high school prom was and why a dress would come off.  Forty minutes of my life that I will never get back.  Lesson learned...save the colloquial expressions for other native speakers.
5.  It has never been easier to be an expat.  I don't think that I could have been an expat 20 years ago.  Aside from e-mail and Skype to keep me connected to family and friends, there are a whole slew of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  The Internet provides an incredible amount of information to help people get started.  My blog started out simply as a personal journal so that my family could keep up with my adventures.  I would never have guessed that I would receive +125 new visitors per day from all over the world.  With all of the expat blogs available there really is no reason not to get started.
- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/767/top-5-things-ive-learned-living-in-czech-republic#sthash.DIlFyOnS.dpuf
Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic
1.  Czechia (Czech Republic) is located in Central Europe; not Eastern Europe.  Just look at a map and it's clear that it's located right in the middle of the continent.  Eastern Europe has negative connotations.  Most of the former communist countries want to be found in Central Europe.  Even Belarus claims to be in the center of Europe.  I guess that's true if you consider Europe running from Iceland to the far eastern bit of Russia.  Regardless, Czechland is perfectly centered for travel which is why in less than five years I've been lucky enough to visit 43 countries.
2.  Patience really is a virtue.  Anyone who has spent time in a former communist country knows all about the mindless bureaucracy required in order to get even the smallest thing done.  However, what can be even more draining is just everyday life with a foreign language.  Simple, mundane things such as going grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or mailing a package at the post office can require an awful lot of energy.  It's important to never give up.  OK, sometimes you buy sour cream instead of coffee creamer but as long as you don't make the same mistake twice then you at least get a humerous anecdote out of it.
3.  You never know where life will take you.  I grew up during the Cold War.  When I joined the U.S. military, we still taught German, Czech and Polish.  Times change.  Who would have thought that 20 years later I would work for IBM in Czech Republic?  Much less regularly visit East Berlin, have a Bulgarian boyfriend or be Godfather to the prettiest little German-Hungarian princess.
4.  Carefully choose your words.  Just because two people speak English doesn't mean that they speak the same language.  In school, most Europeans learn British English.  Therefore it's often better for me to adjust my vocabulary in order to better communicate.  Elevator becomes lift, apartment becomes flat, and pants become trousers while underwear becomes pants.  It can be a bit confusing at times.  For example, I once called a Romanian girl "chica" which means 'girl' in Spanish and is commonly used in the USA.  Imagine my surprise when I received a lecture about how she didn't appreciate being called "a chicken".
My most recent English-language blunder was referring to the loo (restroom, WC, toilet) as the "little boys' room".  The next five minutes trying to explain how the little boys' (or little girls') room has nothing to do with pedophilia wasn't exactly fun.
Once I was in a hurry and said that "I was off like a prom dress."  Big mistake.  Huge!  For the next 40 minutes I had to explain what an American high school prom was and why a dress would come off.  Forty minutes of my life that I will never get back.  Lesson learned...save the colloquial expressions for other native speakers.
5.  It has never been easier to be an expat.  I don't think that I could have been an expat 20 years ago.  Aside from e-mail and Skype to keep me connected to family and friends, there are a whole slew of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  The Internet provides an incredible amount of information to help people get started.  My blog started out simply as a personal journal so that my family could keep up with my adventures.  I would never have guessed that I would receive +125 new visitors per day from all over the world.  With all of the expat blogs available there really is no reason not to get started.
- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/767/top-5-things-ive-learned-living-in-czech-republic#sthash.DIlFyOnS.dpuf

Friday, December 20, 2013

Queuing For Bananas

Back in the days of communism, imports from non-socialist countries were not allowed.  Shortages of goods were commonplace.  Exotic fruits, such as Mandarin oranges and bananas were normally only available at Christmas time.

When stores would get oranges or bananas, I assume from Cuba, people would wait in line for hours.  Products were strictly rationed.  You had to show your ID card and could only purchase 1 or 2 kilos of fruit per family member.   

It's hard to think of oranges and bananas as exotic.   Now one can buy as many oranges and bananas, and even kiwis and pineapples without standing in line more than a few minutes.  Oranges are still part of the Christmas tradition.  And when you see long lines of people at government offices, ticket offices, etc., the expression is that the people are 'queuing for bananas.'

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Short Trousers Day

It's been two years since Václav Havel passed away.  As a remembrance of the man, and the values he fought for, many people will roll up their trousers today.

www.denvaclavahavla.cz/en/

Monday, December 16, 2013

Prague Day Trip

Yesterday, we caught the Student Agency bus to Prague for the day.

We originally wanted to check out Alphonse Mucha's The Slav Epic.



However, after lunch, we decided to spend the day walking around the city and enjoying the crisp weather and Christmas decorations.





We'll get back to check out the exhibit next year.





Monday, December 9, 2013

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg will be forever linked to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and The Sound of Music.  It lies on the Salzach River, near the Alps.  With around 146,000 people, it is Austria's fourth-largest city.  In 1996, the historic Old Town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Salzburg was first settled by the Celts in around the 5th century BC.  Various settlements were formed in to one city around 15 BC by the Roman Empire.

Over the years it has been a part of Bavaria, the Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Great view of the Alps

In 1967, it became a sister city with Atlanta.






Mozart was born and raised in Salzburg.  The house where he was born and the family residence are both tourist attractions.  The statue at Mozartplatz was unveiled in 1842.

The cathedral was consecrated in 1628.  The 17th century Baroque Salzburger Dom is dedicated to St. Rupert and St. Vergilius.  This is where Mozart was baptized.



The Franciscan Church was completed in 1498.  It is one of the oldest churches in the city.





The Panorama Museum is a huge round painting of historic Salzburg.  It shows what the city looked like 200 years ago.






The Mirabell Palace was built around 1606.  I bet the gardens are wonderful in spring.


The Festung Hohensalzburg is the city fortress and was built in 1077.  Over following centuries it was expanded and is the city's primary landmark.  It is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.

Here's a Rick Steves video I found out on YouTube that tells about the fortress.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Off to Salzburg

It's time to get away for a long weekend.  Krasimir and I are headed off to enjoy some Christmas market fun in Salzburg, Austria

And thanks to John and Katie, and Natalie, I finally saw The Sound of Music so I'm allowed to now enter the city.

By train, it's almost 430 km (267 miles) from Brno to Salzburg.  We change trains in Vienna and it should take just under five hours to get there.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Expat Blog Contest

The good folks over at Expatsblog.com have put together another contest.  Last year the rankings were primarily determined by readers' comments.  In order to make it a bit more fair for new bloggers, this year they've decided to make a twist.

Participants need to write a "Top X" list for their particular country.  The contest entry must be written solely for this challenge so no previously published blog entries count.

I guess I need to come up with the "Top 10 Things to do in Brno" or the "Top 5 Expat Hangouts in Moravia."  Who knows what I'll come up with?

I need to submit my entry by December 11th and voting runs December 16th - 20th.  Wish me luck and don't forget to show some love by leaving feedback on the 16th.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Czech Class Starts Again

7 Czech Cases
My Czech teacher and I both took on new jobs so we put my lessons on hold for a while.  Today was my first lesson in about three months.  My head feels like it is going to explode. 

While I speak Czech every day, it is still basic Czech.  I can survive on a daily basis but it's not like I'm giving presentations at work in Czech.

This grammar, especially the case structure, is truly difficult. 

It's time to really focus on improving my Czech beyond basic day-to-day needs.  Next year, I have to pass a language test, with a minimum mark of A2, in order to qualify for permanent residency.

Monday, December 2, 2013

2013 World AIDS Day

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. 

The government launched HIV testing in 1985.  Since then more than 1600 positive people have been registered.  Since not everyone gets tested it's assumed that the infection rate could be at least three times higher.

ČR doesn't spend a lot of money on HIV/AIDS prevention. 

One thing that I don't understand, and haven't understood since I moved here, is why so many Czechs don't like to use condoms.

Statistics show that more than 1/3rd of Czechs don't use condoms.  Please wrap your willie before going outside.

Part of the reason may be because the younger generation isn't as afraid of AIDS as before.  Due to people living longer, there is a belief that living with HIV is just as manageable as living with Diabetes.  It's simply not the case.

The Czech AIDS Help Society provides information in Czech and English.  Here's one of their public service commercials I found on YouTube.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

5th Annual Brno Thanksgiving

This weekend was the 5th Brno Thanksgiving.  I can't believe it's been five whole years since the first one.  It's a lot of work but it is so worth it to get everyone together and enjoy the day.  The good thing is that after five years I've pretty much got a system in place.

This year was a little different though.  First of all it was the first time it's been a destination party.  Eiko flew in from Sweden.  Liz and James flew in from England.  Natalie flew in from London, after only a few days of flying back from New Zealand.  Brian even finally made it here from Florida.

Little Tünde and Artíček
The party seems to get a little bigger each year and for good reason I suppose.  This is the first year that we've had babies here.  Three of them - Tünde, Artur, and Adam.     


My tradition is that before we eat, everyone has to say what they're thankful for.  Last year, the theme was marriage.  Obviously, this year the theme was newborns.


As always, we had enough food to feed an army.  Turkey, dressing, gravy, glazed ham, mashed potatoes with pumpkin, cranberry sauce, spicy pumpkin soup, deviled eggs, corn bread muffins, green bean casserole, macaroni & cheese, corn casserole, steamed carrots, broccoli & rice casserole, sweet potatoes, red velvet cake, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie.

Brian's dad was worried about him being alone in Europe on Thanksgiving.  He had nothing to worry about.

Slivovice toasts
Later we headed out to the Christmas market for some mulled wine and to help shake off the turkey coma.


It wasn't too late of a night though because of the early morning flights home. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgivingkkah

Happy Thanksgiving!  Happy Hanukkah!  Therefore Happy Thanksgivingkkah!!

This is a once in a lifetime event.  Hanukkah and Thanksgiving won't happen on the same day again for another 80,000 years.   

It's been a full day.  After work, I managed to find the sweet potatoes I need for our 5th annual Brno Thanksgiving feast.  I met up with some friends for a screening of Sunset Boulevard at Vila Tugendhat.

Tomorrow I pick up the turkey and start baking.  Let the madness begin... 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

World's Sexiest Accents

CNN Travel has released its poll of the world's 12 sexiest accents.  I don't think that this was exactly scientific but it was an interesting read.

I thought it was funny that "U.S. Southern" made the list at #8.  It was described as "molasses taking a smoke break."  There are lots of different southern accents.  People from Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, and Atlanta don't sound alike.

One day at work, my colleagues asked me to speak with my southern accent all day.  They got a big kick out of it.  Of course, after about 10 minutes they asked me to stop.

Somehow Czech was ranked the 4th most sexiest accent.  Seriously? 

Czech was described "like Russian, without the nettlesome history of brutal, iron-fisted despotism" and that it sounds like Count Dracula.

Czechs sound nothing like Count Dracula.  It's Hungarian that makes people sound like vampires.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turkey Drama

Czech (NO) customer service is about to send me over the edge.  Seeing as I will pay money, why can't they just deliver what the hell I actually order?

Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  Therefore, it's time for turkey drama.  I don't understand why it has to be so bloody difficult to get a turkey.

Claudia has a new favorite butcher shop that is only a few blocks from my flat.  So she placed an online order for a 10 kg (22 lbs).  The shop replied that they would order the turkey and that it would be 13 - 15 kilos (29 - 33 lbs).  Ummm...not what the hell we requested.  The largest turkey we've had so far was 14 kg and it just barely fit in to my oven.  I was not about to try my luck and end up with a 15 kg bird.   

Kamila, for some reason, convinced me to give the halal shop another try.  Katka placed the order and all was fine.  Fortunately, we called, just to double check.  Yes, they will order the turkey.  Yes, they know what size I want.  Yes, I can pick it up on Friday.  They will call back to let me know if they will receive it.  By the way, it will be between 8 kg and 13 kg, if they get it. Thanks but no thanks.  I'm not taking a chance on not getting what I want.

After multiple telephone calls, I ended up confirming the order with the same turkey farm in Židlochovice that we normally use.  I'll get an 8 kg (17.6 lb) bird on Friday.  Not quite the 10 kg that I wanted but close enough.

Now to try to find the sweet potatoes...
Me & my 8 kg bird



EDIT:  I managed to get the sweet potatoes on Thursday and picked up the turkey on Friday at noon.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

2013 PM Parade

I was in Prague on Thursday and Friday.  I and two colleagues were invited to present at the 2013 Project Management Parade.  It is one of the largest PM conferences in Czech Republic.

Presentations were held on both days, with a networking function on Thursday night and workshops on Friday.  Both of my colleagues speak Czech but my portion was to be given in English.  I understood that there would be an interpreter provided. 

Accordingly, I had prepared my presentations to be shorter in order to provide time for the interpreter to speak.  About five minutes before I was to present I was informed that there wasn't an interpreter so I should just speak English.  Not the end of the world but I had to wing it a bit in order to stretch out the time.  Also, it was a bit unnerving looking at the audience and trying to figure out who was following what I was saying and who couldn't understand English at all. 

The first topic presented was a case study on The Modernization of the European Backbone Cloud Infrastructure by Applying Corporate PM Standards.  The second presentation was on the management of personal development within project management.  Two very riveting topics

I'm glad that I did it.  Not sure that I would do it again.  The only negative was the 4:30 AM train ride from Brno to Praha. 

One interesting thing was having my bio prepared in Czech.  In the USA, I would list my project management certification when working as a PM.  But I would never put "MBA" after my name.  In Central Europe, academic titles are a big deal and you have to list them.  So in the official program I was listed as - Mgr. Christopher ..., MBA, PMP / IBM.  To me it seems very odd.  I'm sure my classmates from school would chuckle if they saw it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Way Too Early For Christmas

At Galerie Vaňkovka
It is way too early for Christmas.  Every year it seems to come earlier and earlier.

In the USA, we have Halloween on October 31st.  We have Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday in November.  The very next day is "Black Friday" which is the busiest shopping day of the year.

Having Halloween and Thanksgiving before December doesn't stop all of the retailers from putting out Christmas decorations early.  But it does help us keep Christmas in December.

Not here.  Although Halloween has gotten more popular in the last five years, it's not enough to keep the stores from putting out decorations.  I noticed stores putting out decorations a few weeks ago.  At Vaňkovka it's already starting to look like a winter wonderland.  At least there's no snow yet.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Večerníček

Večerníček
Večerníček is a children's television program that has been on the air for 40 years.

Večerníček is shown every evening at 6:45 pm, when children are supposed to go to bed.  Each episode lasts five to seven minutes and there are usually 10 to 20 episodes per show.

Sandmännchen
It is also shown in Slovakia.  Prior to 1993, both Czech and Slovak versions were shown in Czechoslovakia.

In East Germany, the children watched Sandmännchen (the Sandman).  He too is still popular in Germany.

The Večerníček website has lots of videos online that you can watch.  Here's a sample video, from 1983, that I found out on YouTube. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Care Package Happiness

As an expat, receiving a care package from home is total happiness.  Today I received a box of Thanksgiving goodies.  Thank you Steven and Michael!!

And just in time.  I can't believe this will be the 5th annual Brno Thanksgiving fiesta.  This year it is officially a destination event.  Liz and James are flying over from England.  Eiko is flying down from Sweden.  Natalie flies back from New Zealand to London, changes out her luggage and catches a flight to Czechland.  And one of my mates, Brian from Florida, is in Euroland for a couple of weeks and he will make it to Brno in time for dinner.

The turkey is already ordered.  Let's see what kind of adventure it turns in to this year.

I'm just waiting on one more package from home to be delivered.  The only thing that would make these packages better is if they were hand delivered.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Helena Vondráčková

I was listening to the radio the other day.  So who knew that there was a Czech version of the 1970s disco hit I Will Survive?

Helena Vondáčková is like the Czech version of Cher, a singer whose career has spanned five decades.

The Golden Kids
Born in 1947, she won a national talent contest in Czechoslovakia in 1964.  In 1968, she and Vaclav Neckář and Marta Kubišová formed the trio - The Golden Kids.  In 1970, the group was forced to disband due to Kibišová's outspoken comments about the communist regime.

Vondráčková is known for a number of Czech language cover songs.  She has released songs sung in Czech, English, Slovak, French, Polish, Russian, German and Japanese.  She spent most of the 70's and 80's touring Europe, Asia, and North and South America. 

Like several other Czech pop stars, her career declined after the Velvet Revolution because she was associated with the communist government.  Since that time she has regained popularity.

Here's a clip I found on YouTube of her singing Já půjdu dál.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

1000th Russian Hit

I still can't believe how many hits that this blog receives.  I usually average over 50 new hits a day.  And from all over the world.  This still amazes me that so many people read what is basically my on-line journal.

Today I received my 1000th unique hit from Russia.  Not the 1000th time someone in Russia has looked at my blog.  My blog was viewed by the 1000th new IP address in Russia.  Большое спасибо России! 

At some point I still need to visit Russia.  The main reason I haven't gone so far is simply because Russia requires a visa and the application process is a pain in the ass.

Recently, Russia has implemented some tough new anti-gay legislation.  Basically "propaganda of nontraditional sexual orientation" is illegal so as to protect minors.  Utter rubbish!  

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on next year's Olympic Games in Sochi.  Perhaps I'll make it over next year to either St. Petersburg or Kaliningrad.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tünde's Christening

© Tomáš Donát
Yesterday was Tünde's christening.  The ceremony was held at the Bethlehem Evangelical church.  Actually it was just one of the many of the week's events.

Still trying to teach her the peace sign


Claudia's parents came down from Berlin and stayed almost a week with me.  It's about time considering how many times I've been to their place.

The proud parents
Norbert's parents drove up from Hungary.  This was the first time that Claudia's parents and Norbert's parents have met each other.  Poor Norbert had to do all of the interpreting because he's the only one who can speak both Hungarian and German.  

The Happy Godparents
The ceremony was a little challenging to follow.  It was done almost entirely in Hungarian.  With a short reading done in both German and English.  Natalie and I were trying to figure out what we were supposed to do at what time.

© Tomáš Donát
Afterwards, there was a reception where we had Claudia's 30th and my 40th at.

Official paperwork



Later on we had to sign the official paperwork for the Hungarian Protestant Church.  Our little German-Hungarian princess officially has a New Zealand godmother and an American godfather.




This morning's farewell brunch was the last of the festivities.  Everyone piled in to their cars and headed back home.