Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wizz Air Up for Grabs?

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For some inexplicable reason, every time I write about Wizz Airlines, I feel a need to use the urinal shortly thereafter. Well, I may cut this short to do just that, because Wizz is in the news more than once this week.

First and most horrifying is that KLM-Air France is bidding to take over Wizz Air, which seems that eventually it will no longer be a budget airline. That said, there are so many add-ons to the fees now, it almost is not a budget airline any longer. Air France has HOP, a budget subsidiary. I wonder if they will be combined.

Wizz cropped up in the news again with an announcement that it will start a Budapest - Kutaisi route with twice weekly service. If you are scratching your head wondering where Kutaisi is, it is in Georgia, the country. 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Aussie Aussomeness

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Yesterday, I arrived home to get an inquiry about accommodating a couple from Australia. Having hosted numerous Aussie and Kiwi guests in the past, this was not earthshaking news. What Susan Packer added to her note was quite awesome. She read about us in the Travel section of the local newspaper. This is what she included:

“The article was a full page feature in the weekend Travel section of The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne's Age newspapers, so it's about the biggest travel-related coverage that you can get in Australia!”

Needless to say, it brought tears to my eyes that we are continuing to receive far flung coverage. We have had fabulous reviews written about us in the largest travel magazine in Africa, based in South Africa years ago. Now our coverage has spread to another continent.

This is the quote from the article “Buda B&B (budabab.com; $65 for two, $21 supplement for one-night stays) spruiks itself as "The Best in Pest"; the owners have an incredible knowledge of the city.”


The online article from the Melbourne's Age newspapers is here. You can read all of their other recommendations.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Not Free for You

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I just read a short article about Italy changing its museums pricing policy. As of July 1, 2015 free admission to museums will be restricted only to students under 18 and teachers (no age restrictions offered). Those who fall within the ages 18-25 will be receive discounted admission, but there are no details what the discount will be.

Those over 65, both Italian and foreigners will no longer receive free admission after July 1, 2015, with the exception of the first Sunday of each month. It seems the Minister responsible read the data that showed discounted or free admissions were applicable to more than a third of the population, both local and foreign. Big bucks, er… euros being lost there.

I had to chuckle at this news. A few years back, Ron and I were at Pompeii. When I went to buy tickets, there was a sign offering free admission to teachers. When I asked for my discount, I was asked for a teacher ID. I had two with me; one ID was the STA International Teacher ID Card, the other was my ID card from my university.

The ticket seller took my International Teacher ID Card and threw it back at me saying it was not acceptable. Being nonplussed, I handed over my university ID card. He looked at it and said “The discount is only for EU countries.” Suppressing laughter mixed with anger, I shouted through the PlexiglasHungary IS in the EU as of 2004!” In his lackadaisical Italian manner of not giving a damn, he then countered with “Well then it is only for elementary school teachers.” That ended the argument, but I did secure a discount on Ron’s admission.


End note: As an instructor both in CA and here in Hungary, I have never once received any discount using my STA International Teacher ID Card. It was wasted money! 

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Cash & Card: Dealing With Money While Traveling by Susie Staff

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I am happy to say that today's post has been contributed by a guest travel writer. Susie Staff asked if I would consider a piece she has written, so here it is.


Susie Staff contributed:
Some people have travelled the world, from country to country, by cruise or airplane or train; others are only just taking their first steps out of their own country, uncertain of everything on this first time in a foreign land. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re a world adventurer or travelling for the first time - everyone always worries about dealing with money in a new country. Once upon a time the best or only option was traveller’s cheques, along with all their associated costs, frustrations, and the hassle of spending time on your holiday trying to find a place to cash them (or, god forbid, losing them). International banking, debit cards, and credit cards have taken the place of traveller’s cheques in most places, but there are still reasons for travellers to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to access their funds. Some credit cards are rarely accepted in some countries or cities, cash is king in some places but not others, and there’s always the spectre of thieves to keep travellers holding tight to their wallets. Luckily, by taking a few simple steps, it’s easy to ensure you’re never short on funds while you live your dream vacation.

Navigating Exchange Rates
The first choice you have to make when it comes to travel money is deciding whether to take advantage of a low pre-trip exchange rate, or rolling the dice and choosing to take the exchange rates as they come in return for the convenience of being able to take money out only when necessary on your trip. Even the experts can be caught off guard by the confusing fluctuations of exchange rates, which can vary wildly based on small and seemingly insignificant details. However, no matter which decision you make on whether to take out money before or during your trip, you can still make sure you get the best deal for your exchange. At home, your bank may have the best deal for withdrawals in foreign tender, although larger amounts are unwieldy to travel with and may require your bank to order in your money ahead of time. Once at your destination, your choices are primarily banks or specialised exchange centres - each has its own negatives and positives, so make sure to do your research (either online or in person).
 

Official and in-house exchange rates should be clearly posted, in addition to any going fees. If your bank has a branch in the region you may be able to get a better deal there, but it depends on the branch’s relationship to your home bank. As a rule, avoid cash points unless necessary - these can have steep fees, either as a rule or due to your own bank’s fees - and airport foreign exchange booths, which often have skewed exchange rates and very high fees.
 

Credit Or Cash
It is vital to always carry enough cash on you to get safely back to your hotel if your cards are lost or stolen (preferably in a place other than where you keep your cards!). Beyond that, how much cash you need to carry on you is dependent on your destination and what you plan to do. Even in large cities many places have minimum spends for the use of credit cards, or may not accept cards at all; likewise, public transit, where available, used to depend on cash. (This has changed with the slow move towards transit cards like London’s Oyster Card.)
 

When it comes to credit cards, Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted, followed by American Express, Diners Club, and similar cards. If your card is one of these, be sure to bring another method of payment along. Furthermore, make sure ahead of time that your PIN and card are acceptable at your destination. Chipped cards are quickly becoming the standard, and four-digit PINs are the most commonly accepted varieties, but check to ensure that you’ll be able to use your card before you plan to depend on it. As always, use common sense with both cash and cards - look for modified credit and debit machines and refuse to use them, do what you can to reduce your attractiveness to thieves, cover your card while using your PIN, and don’t carry large amounts of cash on your person. With these tips, you’ll be saving plenty, and you don’t want to donate it to a thief.


Thank you Susie!

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

An Almost Tearful Goodbye

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Two years ago short of a month, Jamie and Bill Hoversen arrived in Budapest. After doing a meet and greet with dozens of Fulbrighters over the past 12 years, when I went to their aid getting these things out of the taxi, I went into full stomach wrenching laughing spasms. When we left the US with the intent on traveling for a year, we had one suitcase each and one backpack between us. When I was able to catch my breath, they both took my guffaws in stride.

With all of their things sitting in the bedroom of their new temporary home, Feri Place, we gave them a walking tour of the neighborhood. As many times as we have toured people around, it still is exciting to share this gorgeous city with someone for their first time. It feels like it was last week.

In the beginning of their great adventure, Jamie was a Fulbrighter on a student grant, which included her teaching some classes at ELTE in my journalism program, but she also worked part-time for the Fulbright office counseling students. Bill found a teaching job with a local high school. 

At the end of Jamie's Fulbright grant, they decided to stay another year. Bill's school was thrilled to have him stay on. Jamie found work with an educational component through the Aquincum Museum and continued part-time at the Fulbright office. We were delighted to have the apartment filled for another year.

Being the adventurers that they are, they covered a tremendous amount of territory during their time. They are fearless travelers, not having extensive bus rides impede their discovering destinations where cheap airfares don't exist. Just getting a tiny review of their wanderings, it is clear they should write a budget manual for those that follow them. We have been envious more than once, but for an extended period on a bus, I would need to be shot with a tranquilizer gun. If not for that, we could replicate their journeying.

Today, we went to pick up the keys to the apartment. As true explorers, they are not leaving Europe just yet, but returning to Riga and then busing to a national park outside the city. July 16th they will be reacquainted with US life for a short time before heading off to China to teach.

They have been great tenants and though we did not see much of them, we will miss knowing they are around. "Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow." Though there will be no morrow for us with them, we wish them the best. They have been inspirational.

After a couple of summer guests visit Feri Place, our new tenant Arnold from The Netherlands will be moving in around August 20th. He will be teaching full-time in the Dutch department at ELTE. We are looking forward to welcoming him and giving him the extended neighborhood tour.

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Friday, July 04, 2014

For Sale - One American Dream

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There has been some past harping on this topic in the past, but then again, new information comes to light, so I feel obligated to touch on it again. Oh, and yes, today is Independence Day in the USA, but not here in Hungary. Happy 4th to all Americans - those by birth or those by choice.

Today in USA today, an article addressed the American Dream as costing $130,000 a year. Can you afford it? I know there is no way in hell I could. Okay, to be fair, this is for a family of four, but let's do a little breakdown with their figures.

$17,062 - Median housing expenses - Now you may say this is cheaper for one or two, but no necessarily depending on where you live. A single person living in NYC could easily spend more just living without 4 roommates. They didn't mention taxes or housing insurance.

$12,659 - Groceries - This seems low to me. Ron and I were spending as much as this back in 2001 in the Central Valley of California. Had we lived in someplace more alluring, the cost would have doubled. We didn't eat high on the hog either. 

$11,039 - Car expenses - Another category that strikes me as low ball. They based this on one 4 WD SUV. For a family of four, you would need at least 2 cars. In CA, your car registration is based on the value of your car. One year, my registration alone was over $2,500. Add to that gas, maintenance, highway tolls, and so on, It is adding up.

$9,144 - Healthcare - We were healthy when living in the US, but Ron did have kidney stone attacks 3 times, causing him to spend a night in the hospital more than one. He also had a sleep study done. Between us, between paying co-pays, minor prescriptions on occasion and our share of medical insurance premiums, we came up to about $9,000 without two additions.

$4,000 - Educational expense - What world do these researchers live in? After public school, there are no free rides. The average tuition for universities in the US is $33,716 a year, but then you add on other fees, books, meals, and so on. My doctorate degree started at $60,000 and the interest is pushing it to over $80,000.

$2,631 - Apparel - Perhaps 2 people could get by on this if they never bought new things, but a family of 4? Hardly!

$1,956 - Home utilities - They include gas and electric in this. When we were in CA, our electric ran $100-160.00 a month. Anyone who knows me, knows I am continually shutting off anything that is not in use. Gas ran about $100 a month for the water heater and dryer. That adds up to $2,400 a year if you use the low end of each, but doesn't include water, sewer, or garbage.

The other sub-groups are "Extras", "Taxes & Savings", before finally giving you their faulty calculation of sticker shock. You can read the article here with eyes wide open.

If you choose not to read the article, know that the term The American Dream was coined in the 1931 book Epic of America by historian James Truslow Adams.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Happy Beerday to Ron

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Yesterday was Ron's birthday. Rather than have a cake and ice cream, I decided to do what most people would like better, go drink beer.

There is a great beer ruins pub that we discovered, where they generally have 15-20 beers on tap at any given time. Best yet, the types rotate, so you can frequent the place and try new beers all the time.

I had invited a small group who I knew would not be on Facebook, but also sent a general invite to those on Facebook as well. We were lucky to get a good table, for the 7 of us who made it. It turned out to be a good number but both Szilvia and Sylvia were missed. 

A good time was had by all, especially the birthday man who left the pub walking a lot less steadily then when he entered. 

Élesztő
Address: Tűzoltó utca 22
Hours: Monday to Sunday 3pm to 3am.
Élesztő, the newest ruins pub, is dedicated to craft beer. For starters, you can find 17 craft beers on tap. Unusual beer offerings include millet, blueberry, cherry, elderberry, and 'Korty', a unique choice of Hungarian beer made with fermented Tokaji Aszú.


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Monday, June 30, 2014

Szeged Sunday

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When I resigned from ELTE, they requested my discount train paper, which technically is good until March 2015. They did waiver the rule to allow me to keep it until August 31, 2014 when my contract really expires. It seems petty to make me hand it over, but then again, I have never used the maximum train trips and generally less than half a dozen.

Our friend Kat, who has been living in Budapest for the last 9 months and her boyfriend, Geoff, who is here from the US, have never been to Szeged. With Ron’s birthday coming on Tuesday, it was a no-brainer to suggest we all do a train trip.


Szeged is the 3rd largest city in Hungary with the Tisza River running through it. The city is famous for paprika, Szekelygulyas, a goulash made with pork, sauerkraut and sour cream, and a fish soup named halászlé. It is made with catfish and carp, two types of fish I would never touch.

I went with Geoff to get tickets for the two of them. I was shocked to see that 2nd class ran over 14,000 Huf and they needed an IC supplement besides. The woman clerk knew we were traveling together, but never said as much for me. Ron who used to ride for free, due to his elegant age, had to pay 520 Huf. No BFD.

With 5 minutes to spare, we rush for our train looking for the car with Kat and Geoff’s assigned seat. What should be on the next track over, but the New Oriental Express? Oh, how I would love to do that route from end to end.

Setting fantasy aside, we found the seats, but they were not a foursome, so we moved to one. Wouldn’t you know it, when the trainwoman arrived, she made Ron and I move to the next car because we did not have the IC supplements. All four of us move and actually were more comfortable.

Szeged was delightful. It has been about 6 years since we were last there, but it is a charming city. We were amazed with the number of trams and buses crisscrossing the streets but we chose to walk. The day was delightful and enjoyed by all.

Returning to Budapest, we went to the Caledonia Scottish Pub and Restaurant for a beer before going somewhere else for dinner. As it turned out, we dined where we drank and the food was excellent.

It was a lovely celebration of Ron’s birthday two days early.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On, But the Rules Have Changed Again

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Last week, I posted an article in Facebook about the changing rules of the airlines with regard to their rules for carry-on pieces. Half jokingly, I stated that if an investigation were to be pursued, it would probably uncover a co-conspirator relationship with the luggage manufacturers. How often have people bought a smaller carry-on because the last one was not small enough? 

Unless your suitcase is from the planet Imsk, like Shrinking Violet of the Legion of Super-Heroes fame, you are gonna be stuck with a conundrum at check-in time. Airlines used to report their size requirements in linear inches: you added the total length + width + height. If you met their maximum magic number, you were safe regardless if one side was bulkier than the other. You were still sitting pretty.

Two different experts have a bit of differing information. You can read Peter Greenberg here and George Hobica from Airfarewatchdog.com here.

Most importantly, check before you fly, check again on the way to the airport, and one last time while waiting in line to check in. The rules are changing with great momentum.

The second most important thing: Buy stock in a good luggage company~

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Want to Try “Google glass glasses”?

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This last week, I received this e-mail. Being a techie junkie, I would have loved the opportunity, but knowing this was unrealistic, I just wrote him back about my location. His response is below the initial note. Regardless, I thought I would give them a shout-out for trying. Please do not blame me that he spelled organization incorrectly!

I think that ultra-expensive drinking holiday actually happened on our street during the World Cup matches. We were inundated with Brits, more than usual.

Hi Ryan
We have some of the much talked about “Google glass glasses” arriving this week and we were wondering whether you or any other travel writers in your organisation might like to borrow them? Perhaps for a trip or even just around the office!

It would be completely free of charge and is just part of our plan to grow our relationships with writers.

Let me know if you might be interested?

We are also going to be the first UK travel company to lend them to its customers, which may be a story in itself!

Best wishes
Byron

Byron Warmington
Marketing Assistant
www.holidaysplease.co.uk
Direct line from UK: 0121 200 5706
Direct line from outside UK: 00 44 121 200 5706

About Holidaysplease.co.uk
•    We are the best travel company … that no-one has heard of!
•    Recent trips include a £750,000 drinking holiday
•    No.1 ranked for customer service from 300 UK travel companies on Trust Pilot
•    UK online travel agency of the 2013-14


Response:
Hmm Budapest might be a little bit of a problem logistic-wise at the moment. Perhaps reach out to me later in the year when I have hopefully figures out how to get them round the UK first!

Of course in the meantime feel free to mention we are the first company in the world to also be lending them out to customers:-
http://www.holidaysplease.co.uk/news/google-glass/

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Chip In or Else

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These days, you don't need a chip on your shoulder to travel, but you had better have one in your wallet when visiting many countries. When we were in Cambodia in 2008, we went to a lovely restaurant that took credit cards

After an outstanding, but still relatively inexpensive meal, I whipped out my credit card to pay the bill. I had not visited an ATM, so we were cash poor at the moment, but credit rich. The server took the credit card only to return moments later to say the card would not work. Assuming the company did not read the memo that we were traveling, I just handed over another card. Without leaving the table, the server said "This card will not work either." Not sure if we had met a Cambodian fortuneteller or what the story was, I asked innocently "How do you know this?" 

It seems Cambodia, back in 2008, had changed over the credit card system to the microchip embedded cards. Their machine was only capable of reading the chip. Swiping the card was not an option. 

Having read about this issue occurring in Europe, the thought that it would happen in Cambodia never surfaced in my wildest dreams. Still, what I had read was to tell the creditor to call in for authorization. There was no getting around this issue; the restaurant people were not willing to comprise on our using our credit card. When they finally accepted the fact that we did not have enough cash between us, they suggested we return the next day with the full amount owed. Refusing even partial payment, they sent us on our way.

The next day, we arrived around noon to pay our debt; we had to get to the airport. They were closed, even with the hours showing a lunch service was possible. We left the money with the business next door, hoping for the best. 

Now in 2014, I just read the article Don’t be a chip-and-pinhead! by Christopher Elliott where he had problems on a motorway when approaching the Europabrücke or Europe Bridge. When he went to pay the toll, the machine would not accept his non-chip US credit card.

This made me check my credit cards. I have a Citibank Visa, CapitolOne MC, and 3 different Amex cards, but the only card with a chip is the Diners Club/Mastercard. I never leave home without it, because it gives me access to Diners Club lounges in airports around the world. There are some really unexpected places where they have fabulous lounges. The $95 membership fee pays for itself, plus I get airline miles for any purchases. When we are at home, I keep it for emergencies. 

Check for chips before leaving home. More and more places here are using the chip cards and much of the rest of Europe is too.

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Ray Wrote

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Ray Ruiz has left a new comment on your post "Umm...I Am Not Out of Here Yet":

Congratulations, Ryan!!! Wonderful send off.
Now--- the world is your oyster-- not that that hasn't been so your entire life.
But, now you'll have more time to pursue your dreams and fantasies.
I hope so, anyway :-)
Hugs,
Ray Ruiz in New Orleans



It figures! Now the world is my oyster, but I am allergic to oysters and mussels, (but not muscles). 

On a side note, Ray is a B and B owner in New Orleans. Check out his site here. He is also personally responsible for our buying a condo in Pompano Beach, Florida.

We have never met Ray in person. We have never seen the condo that we bought. Funny world!

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Motivational Teaching

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I was advising a BA thesis student. His topic concerns teachers’ motivation and its impact on student learning. He sent me this story he found particularly enlightening. It came from the book Teaching Well and Liking it: Motivating Faculty to Teach Effectively. This is the story as the student sent it to me. Since this has been published in the book above, I am leaving the names intact.

Dr. Ralph Connors and Dr. Carol Raynor have been colleagues for eleven years. They have adjoining offices in the modern science center of Eastern State University. Both teach introductory physics to undergraduates. They have much in common, but they are entirely different teachers. Among the undergraduates, Dr. Connors is known as “Dr. Snores.” As he lectures, Ralph has the curious habit of looking down at his weathered boots while constantly counting and recounting his pocket change. Occasionally his right hand emerges from the side of the podium to add emphasis to what is being said or to flip pages. But only his hand is animated. His speech is soft and slow. There is little life in what he says or in the way he says it. All the fraternities have copies of his notes, copies of copies that date from 1984. But he is popular with them because “Snores only gives two multiple-guess tests, and if you’ve got his notes, you can skate his class.”

Dr. Raynor has a different reputation on campus. Students call her Dr. Rap because in the spring of 1990 she invited to class a local group to rap about Ohm’s law. Midway through their performance she suddenly turned off the lights and told her two hundred students to join in: “The louder you sing, the brighter the lights will become.” Sing they did, much louder than she ever expected. The lights swiftly rose to glaring intensity and then flickered and began to fail. After their applause she said, “Now let’s talk about the role that resistance can play when circuits get overloaded.”

Dr. Raynor no longer needs the rap group; it has become a tradition for students to rap on their own on the day that Ohm’s law is scheduled. She constantly works on her teaching. She enjoys physics and shares her enthusiasm with students. When asked by a campus reporter about the best class she ever taught, she replied “Teaching is a work in progress; I’ve been pleased with some of my classes, but I have yet to teach my best class.””

On that note, I want to share my pride in all 9 of the students who I advised for their thesis this semester. For some I was their direct advisor and for others, they were part of my thesis writing class. Each and everyone of them received a grade of 5 (the highest possible) on their written thesis. So far, they each have received a 5 on their defense as well.

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At Home Around the World

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When I first posted that we had joined a home exchange club, particularly HomeExchange.com, someone wrote me warning of their negative experiences with this group. It was not a problem with exchanges, but rather the lack of exchange opportunities. From what I remember, this person was not successful in getting one exchange completed during her enrollment.

We are doing our first exchange this August for 10 days with a woman who has a home in Cádiz, Spain, though she lives in Seville. Since we agreed to this exchange, we have had offers from:

Somewhere on the Canary Islands
Palermo, Sicily
Strasbourg, France
Como, Italy
Salinas, Ecuador
Toledo, Spain
Livadhia, Cyprus
Guebwiller, France
Rome, Italy

Oslo, Norway

Oslo, was my first choice when I ventured into this as a project. Knowing the expense of Norway, this seemed like a somewhat affordable way to see the country. Our suitcases would be packed with food, even if it only left us with one set of clothes for the duration. Prices up north are astronomical. Denmark nearly killed off our wallets and that was back in 2005. 

As luck would have it, I contacted every Oslo member, around 9 of them. Not one was interested in Budapest at this time. It was then we accepted Cádiz, Spain. 

This last week, I received an exchange request from a couple in Oslo. How strange I thought; I sent a request to each and every member. Looking at their profile, they had just joined the service the previous week before their contacting me.

So far everyone wants to exchange this August. I have offered the months of October, November, and December, but no bites yet.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hungarian Go-Round

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Hungary may be chomping at the bit to reestablish a national airline after Malév's demise in 2012 (gosh, has it been that long already?), but it seems unlikely that it will happen. 

As an article in Portfolio.hu points out, Wizz Air has the area wrapped up in a neat cloud covered package. There really is no need for another significant national airline. After Sólyom Airways, with their non-Hungarian moniker attempted and failed rapidly, it should be obvious that another attempt is futile. It is like riding the merry-go-round; there is no ending point, just going in circles.

You can read the Portfolio.hu article here.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Umm...I Am Not Out of Here Yet

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Hmmm…current events have brought to mind the misquote of Mark Twain “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. (‘The report of my death was an exaggeration’. It was his cousin James Ross Clemens, who was seriously ill and he was confused with the author).

Reports of our leaving Hungary have been greatly exaggerated. It is funny; I resigned from ELTE at the end of the semester. Wednesday was my last official day at the university, where I spent close to five hours administering thesis defenses with three of my colleagues. After each student defended, I kept thinking this is the last time I will have to do this. The night before, I was awake most of the night, so this was the one thought that energized me through the tedium of the exams. When we finished grilling the last student, there were two hours to spare before a faculty meeting scheduled at 2pm. I gave serious thought to skipping out on the meeting; whatever they discussed no longer pertained to me. However, it did occur to me that there was still a paycheck hinging on my being cooperative, so I decided I had better go.

After everyone was there our department head announced there was a long agenda. As it turned out the faculty meeting was a ruse for my goodbye party. She said that my students will probably remember me for many years to come and of course I had to add that I hope that some of those remembrances would be positive. This provided a chuckle.

She reminded me that I should take all of the equipment I have purchased over the years, since it is mine and not ELTE’s. She didn’t know was that my office was wiped clean weeks ago.

The television that sat in there for the last 5 years, which I had purchased for my classroom was given to an orphanage in Göd. They also received a large bag of Legos I used in my Critical Thinking classes. My printer went to a former student. I took home my laptop, speakers, and of course the projector; all of these were my purchases. Every book that had accumulated on my bookshelf, came home in small easy to carry bundles until my bookcase space only had old theses I advised and books donated by former Fulbrighters.

At the party, all of the women colleagues gave me a hug, while the two male colleagues who showed up, shook my hand. The ‘refreshments were Hungarian pogácsás, a tray of chocolate chip cookies, but the highlight was special.  One of my colleagues thought enough of me to go out to buy three pieces of diabetic cake.

My going away presents were a novel by a Hungarian writer translated into English. Another present was a travel coffee cup with the ELTE insignia on it. I was assured that the top could be flipped around to I would not have to look at ELTE any longer.

Funny, but each of my colleagues had a different version of what my plans were now that I have left the university. They ranged from my leaving the country to move back to the US, to South America, to another European country, to sailing the blues seas in a life raft.

So I am officially or unofficially no longer working although my contract continues until August 31. I'm not sure what I'm going to do beyond that, but as always, I have some ideas brewing.

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