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.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Last of 2006

So, this update will take us through the end of 2006. My next Update will probably appear in April 2007, and will include the details of my Around-the-World Trip. I’ll be departing Budapest on February 3 for Los Angeles, to visit Morgan and Tony and to meet my grandkids for the first time. I leave for Australia on February 17, and will visit ex-Budapesters in Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Next, a short stopover in Singapore, and on to a week in Bangkok. Finally, nine days in India, including a personalized tour of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Should be a good trip.

Anyway, upon returning from Sofia in November, the fall party season kicked into high gear. Stuart and I did another Pub Quiz at the British Embassy Club, then attended a really difficult Quiz given by the British Women’s Association a week later. General consensus was that ours was better, although the prizes in the latter far outstripped the bottle of champagne offered by the Club for the winners of our quiz.

Next came the annual St. Andrew’s Day celebration, this time at Caledonia, appropriate since Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. The Pub had cardboard kilts for us non-Scots, pictures of which I will show only if you are over 21. The Pub did us proud, with magicians, Scottish/Irish music and a Scottish pub quiz. The party season was definitely ticking over.

Late November was enhanced with yet another visit by Frances Crossen, one of my Irish friends, from Dublin. He even brought me a giant cardboard sheep named Seamus, which now occupies pride of place in my flat. We discussed the possibility of my teaching some classes for his language school in Dublin next summer, and the prospects look bright. More on that later. Frances even joined us at the Caledonia Pub for too much fun, including karaoke with Stuart and his staff from Interrelo. Good group, and some really good singers.

Early in December I decided to visit the Vienna Christmas Market, as I had heard it was bigger than ours and had lots of fun stuff. So, at 5:30 on a cool winter morning (the weather in Budapest was the mildest fall and early winter for 500 years!), our bus took off for Vienna, me and 65 eager Hungarian shoppers. Naturally, I was the only one who had to have his passport checked at the border. We debarked in downtown Vienna around 10:30, and got a one-hour walking tour of the tourist areas, finally to arrive at the Rathaus around 11:45, which was where the main Xmas Market was. We were told we had to be back at the bus, about a 15-20 minute walk, by 2:00. Hmmm, not a lot of shopping time, but I raced through the many booths and gave it my best shot. On the walk back, I also visited a few other markets, and even had time to pick up a Sacher Torte at the famous hotel of the same name.

I thought it would be a short shopping trip, but the bus then took us to Schonbrunn Palace, where we found yet another Xmas market and an American Gospel Choir in full voice. We even got a tour of the Palace, which was great, as I hadn’t done it on my previous visit. Back to Budapest around 9:30 PM, satisfied and shopped out.

Mid-December saw me finishing up most of my classes for another year, although this time many of them would not be returning, as I gave them to another teacher friend of mine (Keith Andrews), preparatory to my “retirement” in 2007. I’ll keep a couple of classes for the time being and when I get back here in April, then we’ll see. I’d like to “retire ”more fully in 2007 and travel more extensively and stay longer in places I visit. At least that’s the plan.

Our 4th Annual Sagittarian Birthday Party at The Stage Pub was another hit on December 8. There were six of us Sagittarians in attendance this year, and our karaoke buddies even honored us with a recording of Boldog Születesnapot. Everyone joined in and we easily passed again from one year to another.

Several more Xmas holiday parties and dinners peppered the remainder of December, including: a “real” Indian food extravaganza organized by a friend of Stuart’s; a holiday dinner given by the language school I worked for since 2000; and drinks with several former students. Finally, some of us stranded expats gathered for Xmas Eve Brunch at the Corinthia hotel, all you can eat and drink of really excellent food and mediocre champagne. Four hours of that and we waddled away satisfied and not a little inebriated. And I ask for nothing more in a Christmas celebration.

Having drunk enough for several revelers, when I got home I decided to make some calls. Got ahold of Morgan and then Stephanie, who were surprised to hear from me. No one else I called was home, saving me lots of money in phone bills. I joined Tracy later that night for yet more wine, and after our first bottle we were surprised by a call from Mark Wills in Ohio. Good to hear from him, and he promises to try and visit us in Budapest in May 2007. We were in such a good mood after his phone call, we decided to try and get hold of Matt Bresler in Kazakhstan. We woke him out of a sound sleep, it being 3:30 the next morning out there. Oops, sorry, Matt, forgot about the time difference. All that wine. Anyway, good to catch up on things with him too, and he also promised to try and get here in May for a short visit. We’ll alert the bartenders.

Christmas dinner with John McMahon and Aniko, which was nice. New Year’s Eve promised to be anti-climactic. The Caledonia Pub hosted its first Szilvester celebration for a mere 4,500 forints, a bargain compared to the minimum 10,000 forints (50US) charged by other bars in Budapest. The crowd was lively and a good time was had by all. I took off around 2 AM, and slept until noon that day.

The first few weeks of January were spent cleaning my flat. Yep, I am moving from my great little bachelor pad in the 5th District to Andrew Barak’s place in the 8th District. I’ll be living there when I’m in town, which should work out OK, as Andrew travels quite a bit for work. And since I’ll be staying in apartments for several months when I visit other countries, I really don’t need a full-time flat here. So I’ll save on expenses and still have a base in Budapest, plus Andrew gets a little extra money when I’m in town. Everyone wins. Anyway, my new address as of January 20, 2007, is:

VIII. Vig u. 18, 3/1
1084 Budapest

(No telephone landline at the moment.)

OK, eager Blogsite Readers, that’s it for 2006. Another banner year. Can’t wait to see what 2007 will bring. Check back here around mid-April to see what adventures I experienced on my around-the-world jaunt. Hope everyone had a great holiday season and that 2007 is another fantastic year for you all.


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