I have a confession to make….we have been living a lie, we’re not the backpackers we were pretending to be.
We were being spoiled, courtesy of Zev’s parents. It was a lovely to stay in nice hotels and indulge in bubble baths for 2 weeks, but now we’re back to hostels and street food.
Yesterday, while we checked out of our fancy hotel in Budapest and took a cab to the hostel, it began snowing. The snow fell at first in big, improbable, comically large flakes that immediately melted upon impact, leaving no trace. I kept rushing to the window to make sure it hadn’t stopped, although the ground refused to confirm what the sky insisted was true, snow was still falling. Sure enough, after about 24 hours, a couple inches had accumulated on the cars lining the streets and some muddy slush covered the sidewalks. The wind chilled us to the bone and chased us back into the hostel, but the snow made for a scenic ending to our two weeks with family.
In Budapest we ate beef goulash and duck cracklings, greasy paprika salami and spaeztle smothered in sour cream and paprika sauce. My cravings for hearty winter food were met. On the final day, as I found myself rubbing the circulation back into my cold toes, it was finally time to go back to warmer climes. We had slowly, one by one, said goodbye to Zev’s family and now the winter wonderland didn’t seem as sparkly and magical, it was unfamiliar, foreboding, and it held few charms for us anymore.
As I write, we’re camped out in the upstairs food court at Kuala Lumpur Sentral Train Station, where the air conditioning seems to have achieved a negligible victory over the smothering humidity downstairs. There is an overnight train to Singapore ahead of us, after which we will crawl to our hostel and collapse for a few hours.