Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Return to Budapest

Back in the days when I was a bored law student, longing to get out of my small college town, I got wind of the possibility of a summer study-abroad program. I would pay for the credit hours and flight and the University would take care of my room and board. There were three options. Belize, London or Yugoslavia. Belize held the promise of beaches, which I had in ample supply back home. The London program, at Oxford I believe, was rumored to require actual studying.  Nope. I knew next to nothing about Yugoslavia. Couldn’t have pointed it out on a map if I’d been asked but this program was led by a favored professor, a notorious good time guy who liked to throw extravagant parties at his home. (extravagant, at that time meant that he used actual glassware and provided beers from actual bottles and not whatever keg was on sale at Mike’s Beer Barn). Additionally, word had trickled down to us about how cheap everything was, words that sing loving harmonies to broke college students.

So…it was our second week in Dubrovnik. Our classes, during which heavily accented professors would read straight from a page, were opportunities to write out postcards, catch up on crosswords and look ever so studious while highlighting travel guides. Our party professor, a rather portly gentleman, had introduced us to Slivovich, shown us some of the best restaurants in town and provided an indelible memory to some classmates who had the misfortune of stumbling upon him at a clothing optional beach. Our per diem, which was something like $20 per day, had us eating and drinking like kings, with plenty of cash to spare. Our first weekend, we used our surplus to book a live-aboard sailboat and cruise around the nearby islands. The second weekend, our professor proposed a trip to Budapest. If I knew little about Yugoslavia prior to this summer, I knew even less about Hungary but he had not led us astray, so off we went.