Travels With Myself

A Personalized Periodic Update, just for my family and friends, of the Ongoing Adventures of Your Favorite World Traveler

Location: Budapest, Hungary

After nearly 30 years in the financial industry in the US (mostly California and New Mexico), I decided it was time for my second life. I sold my house, sold my car, sold all my furniture, took a TEFL course and moved to Budapest to teach Business English to the business people of Hungary. Amazing mid-life change! I taught for about eight years, then pretty much retired. Since then I have traveled extensively, and have been to nearly 75 countries. I have had six books published, mostly about my travels - see my author's page on I have made friends all over the world. Becoming an expat is the best move I ever made and I plan to continue my travels indefinitely. Come join me on this blog and enjoy the places I've been and the people I've met in the past and present and hopefully will meet in the future.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hurricanes and Riots

Aside from the hurricane and riots, and my trip to Greece, not much happened in the late summer and early fall here in Budapest. After my June trip to St. Petersburg, summer sort of cruised along. Most of my students were here this year, so my teaching schedule remained fairly busy. Socially, a few Farewell Parties, a couple of barbecues, some nice sidewalk dinners and brunches, but, again, a quiet summer. Until August 20, the Hungarian National Day, anniversary of the founding of the Hungarian state. One and a half million people lined the banks of the Danube in Budapest to celebrate and to watch the fireworks display, as they do every year. The annual Bread and Circus.

Apparently, the weathermen had predicted rain around 9 PM, which is when the fireworks start, so umbrellas were present, along with strollers and camp chairs. For the first year, I actually stayed home, having seen fireworks too many times. Just not interested in the display and the accompanying house parties. Anyway, just before 9 PM I glanced out my window and noticed the trees in front of my flat were waving in a fairly strong wind. Hmm, I thought, I hope the revelers and fireworks aren’t affected. At five minutes after 9, I looked out the window again and saw the trees whipping wildly in an extremely strong wind. A really strong wind. As I watched, the rains hit. Damn, the rain was falling sideways! It looked like 50 mph winds accompanied by a nasty rainstorm. I knew the celebrants were getting soaked and whipped about, but had no idea of the damage until later.

The storm only lasted for about 30 minutes, but the damage was considerable. Over 150 people injured and taken to hospital, at least five killed (heart attack, blown off a boat and drowned, etc), and everyone soaked through and dripping wet and miserable. But the fireworks display never stopped - even though no one could see it during the storm, and, in fact, weren’t even watching as they scattered for shelter. On my street alone, one lamppost and several large trees were uprooted and fell across the road and onto cars. A rather nasty National Day, albeit a memorable one.

Septermber promised to be quiet also, so I decided to spend a week vegging out in Greece, and I scuttled off to the island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea. Nothing to report of my vacation, as I did NOTHING! Sat on the beach, swam in the sea, walked around Corfu Town, bought a few souvenirs, ate some good seafood and gyros. A really nice, quiet, peaceful vacation. And my tan was awesome.

Got back to Budapest late Saturday night, September 16. The very next day, the local television station (MTV- Magyar Televizio) played a tape of the Hungarian Prime Minister stating in a private, closed meeting that he had lied to the people of Hungary and that his government had to change their plans and actually try to serve the people for a change.

WELL!! The local populace erupted in anger, gathering in front of the TV station to stage a peaceful yet passionate protest at such calumny. Unfortunately, as the word spread about the gathering, a crowd of semi-professional agitators, known locally as football hooligans, sped to the scene and proceeded to incite the otherwise peaceful crowd into an unruly mob. Cars were burned, the TV station was trashed and looted, policemen were stoned, a water cannon was overturned. Bad news. The demonstrations continued through the week, and are still going on as I write this update on Saturday, September 23. No end in sight yet, as the protesters call for the resignation of the Prime Minister. We shall see.

Anyway, I continue to teach and party and avoid the contested areas. On our next three-day weekend, October 20-23, I’ll head off to Sofia, Bulgaria for more fun and relaxation. No further travel plans until February 2007, when I’ll embark on my around-the-world trip. More on that in my next Update.

Hope everyone is well and happy and safe. If you have any spare time, I’d appreciate some newsy updates from my friends. All for now - more as the adventure continues.


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