In a previous life, I attended a small liberal arts college for my first two years in a small town in Ohio. There I met this guy named Rob, a fellow rower, from the Philadelphia area. We became very good friends, and let the record show that we won an awful lot of crew races together in those two years. I transferred away after two years, but we remained in contact through the rest of college and for a few years after that. A few years later, Rob got an MBA from a prestigious east coast school which led him to a program overseas in Budapest, Hungary. I knew he was there, but we sort of lost track of each other at that point.
Fast forward about 20 years. When I learn I am going to be relocating to Geneva, I double down on my efforts to locate Rob, and I manage to succeed when someone from that small school in Ohio cold calls me and wants me to buy an alumni directory. I figured if anyone knows where Rob is, it would be someone working on putting together an alumni directory. And sure enough, he did!
So when I arrived in Geneva, I contacted Rob and we made plans for me to come visit in November. I was there for four days, met Rob’s wife Katalin, and their two sons Beni and Dani. Here are some of the highlights (topped off by the last one on the list, which I videotaped and is suggestive of some of the shenanigans Rob and I engaged in in our youth. So don’t miss that.)
We walked his dog, Cheeky.
Rob lives close to a very large and beautiful park, and in the four days I was there, I tagged along on 5 walks with Rob and Cheeky. Cheeky is a smart dog that could be let off his leash so while he played with other dogs, Rob and I reminisced and filled each other in on what we’d been up to for the last 20 years.
We had a beer at a sports bar and watched Rob’s beloved Philadelphia Eagles destroy the hated Dallas Cowboys. (I’m kinda kidding about the “beloved” part and the “hated” part. Neither of us really gives a damn, but it was still fun.)
We saw some awesome sights. Budapest is a beautiful and of course, historic city. The Danube River runs through the heart of the City, and we spent parts of two days sightseeing. Here’s just some of what we saw.
The Hungarian Parliament building, on the bank of the Danube.
This building, which I can’t recall what it is, but they have preserved a corner of the building that sustained damage from gunfire in World War II. (If you click on the photo, you will see that one stone has been engraved with “Memento 1944 + 1945”)
This cathedral, called the Saint Stephen’s Basilica, is the largest church in Budapest and can accommodate 8,500 people. It was tough to decide what to photograph inside this church, because everywhere you turned there was something spectacular. I opted for a shot showing some of the red marble, which was beautiful.
I toured a Rembrandt exhibit at the Fine Arts museum.
I went and did this by myself while Rob helped Katalin get ready for Thanksgiving dinner, which I will mention below. Say what you will about Rembrandt, but one thing is undeniable. That dude could flat out paint. I could have paid a little extra to be able to take pictures of his paintings, but I was satisfied just to be able to look at them. But here’s a photo of the Art Museum.
We had an awesome thanksgiving dinner!
I happened to time my visit over Thanksgiving, and on Saturday, Rob and Katalin hosted a get together of about a dozen or so of their best friends. Here’s a picture of some of us hanging out in their kitchen, where the food was served…
…And here’s a picture of the shots of Unicum a few of us had at the end of the evening.
And finally, we wandered by the beautiful Budapest Opera House just prior to a performance…
… and then channeled our 19-year old selves and decided to try and get a closer look. Ever wonder what the performance hall looks like? We did. Enough to sneak in. Enjoy.