This is my third Christmas in a row abroad, and it is never anything like Christmas in America. My first Christmas abroad was in Scotland, with fellow Washingonians Matt and Chelsea, and then I spent last Christmas with my sister in Morocco. This year, I am in Hungary with two college friends and my older sister. I landed in Budapest this afternoon and was promptly greeted by Fareed, whom I hadn’t seen in 6.5 years and who had flown in from Pakistan for the occasion. Much squealing transpired, and then I immediately insisted on taking a photo so I could prove to everyone back home that he was not just a figment of our imagination. An hour later, we were joined by Ben, who was coming in from New York. Once our Jewish/Muslim/pseudo Catholic trifecta was in place, we cabbed it to Budapest’s 7th District to check in at our Airbnb flat and get situated.
|Note that Fareed packed three times as much as I did for one week in Budapest|
|Reunited in Hungary, for no real reason|
We quickly discovered that Budapest is completely dead on Christmas Eve. Plans to go out to dinner were soon dashed, and finding a grocery store proved to be equally challenging. After much wandering, and a consultation with the most attractive couple in Hungary, we located a tiny convenience store, which certainly didn’t contain the fixings of a quality Christmas dinner. After much agonizing, Fareed grabbed a sausage that may have been raw, I picked up a cabbage and a can of tomato paste (with the help of a friendly, English-speaking Hungarian man who translated all the canned goods for me), and we made up the difference with a generous selection of wasabi and chili lime potato chips.
Back at the flat, we downed a bottle of wine and I started preparing our Christmas cabbage feast. I was attempting to imitate a Belorussian dish I get around the corner from the Kremlin every few weeks, but mostly succeeded in infusing the apartment with the smell of boiled cabbage and frozen carrots. Melissa arrived at 8pm, just in time for Christmas cabbage, chocolate, dessert wine, and my last minute attempt at Christmas gift giving. It wasn’t exactly your traditional Christmas Eve, but I suspect it will not be one I forget anytime soon.
|Christmas cabbage, a meal that will probably not be gracing American tables for the holiday season|
|My last minute Russian gifts for Ben, Fareed, and Melissa|