This post is mostly about our trip to Budapest. You can go directly to a gallery of Budapest photos here.
When we landed in Budapest a few weeks ago, it was overcast and hot, we were worn out from the flight over, and the cab ride from the airport to the train station was not was I would call particular “scenic.” In fact, the place looked pretty beat up — overgrown weeds and out-of-control trees and bushes everywhere, and lots of run-down buildings. The cab driver dropped us off at the train station (with our 5 giant pieces of luggage) and we shlepped to the train that would eventually, hopefully, take us to Pecs. As the train pulled out of the station, I looked out the window (it was spitting rain, now), thinking, where is this wonderful city I’ve heard so much about? Then it occurred to me that someone flying into O’Hare won’t get any indication of what downtown Chicago is like just by stepping out of the airport. So we left Budapest without really seeing “Budapest” and made our way to Pecs.
We came back to Budapest a few days later to begin 5 days of Fulbright Orientation — this is when we really got to see the city. And it’s a BEAUTIFUL city. The orientation mostly consisted of full days of history/political/cultural lectures, language lessons a the Fulbright offices, plus meals and tours. On Tuesday we attended a reception at the home of Ed Loo, the “Public Affairs Officer” from the American embassy and met the American Ambassador to Hungary (a woman who seemed too young to be an ambassador). Ed Loo’s home is on the hilly, green “Buda” side of Budapast, across the Danube from the very urban, congested “Pest” (pronounced “Pesht”) side.
We also met Mark Canning, the US Embassy Budapest Office Attache for Environment, Science, Technology and Health at the reception – he looks to be around 50 and hasn’t lived in the US for nearly 30 years. Every three years he’s sent to another country, along with his family, to oversee the State Department activities in those areas. Very interesting guy — fluent in at least 6 languages (including Russian, Chinese and Farsi) — and he’s invited us back to Budapest to hang out with his family for a weekend (he has 14 and 16 year old sons). Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.
Here are some photos from our time in Budapest: