Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rejuvenating in Budapest

The Parliament Building
I'm in Budapest, Hungary this week for a work related training.  This is one of the great benefits of being employed overseas where training sessions are held in great cities most Americans only dream about visiting.  I may be working this week but for me, this time is a much more than another work assignment.  This week is a much needed and long anticipated escape from my Albanian reality.

In a twist from the norm, on Sunday it was I who walked into the airport while my family drove back home. While Glenn is holding down the fort on the home front- with assistance from the nanny of course- I am having a flashback to the travel filled days of my previous professional life.  I may be sequestered in a hotel conference room for much of the day, but in a return to this environment I am able to focus on my job and how to do it better.  I don't have to worry about rushing home to relieve the nanny, what to wear to that evening's reception or contemplate what I'm making for dinner that night.  Before I left I did offer to grocery shop and cook for the week.  Glenn assured me that he would handle it but I did catch a glimpse of his meat heavy menu for the week and and am now resting assured that both he and Sidney are loving their vegetable free meals.  But back to my time in Budapest...........

This week I've met fellow Americans from Embassies throughout Europe who are working in the same position as I hold in Tirana. We're all spouses who have given up our careers to follow our other halves halfway around the world.  We are fortunate to have the jobs that most of us are over qualified to hold.  Our time away from our respective posts has been enlightening.  We've simultaneously shared horror stories and felt relieved that maybe our situations aren't as dire as we had previously thought.  (I've learned that there are conditions in Europe that are so much more spartan than those in Albania.  Who knew?).  Yes, we're being briefed on the nuts and bolts of our jobs but as is usually the case, the best information comes from our networking opportunities.  

The Chain Bridge across the Danube
And yes, I'm having a little fun too.  I was able to have dinner with an American friend currently living in Budapest. Over a dinner and a bottle of Hungarian wine we were able to compare notes on the highs and lows of Embassy life without interruption.  I've missed long talks with my girlfriends and dinner with Laura was just what I needed to recharge my batteries.   Skype, Facebook, and email are just inadequate substitutes for real human contact.   This is perhaps what I've missed the most about living overseas.

After hours I've been getting out and playing tourist while visiting Budapest's historic sites.  I've strolled around Pest's litter-free sidewalks in the evening, meandered through the Castle District's cobblestone roads, and taken pictures of the magnificent  historical buildings that line the banks of the Danube River.   I'm not a shopper but I've tried on clothing in trendy stores not because I need anything new but rather because I can.  At times I've felt like a country bumpkin as I stand in awe and observe Budapest's cosmopolitan public transportation system, well lit streets with working streetlights, well preserved historic buildings, and feral animal free streets of this capital city.  In many respects, this former communist city is everything that Tirana isn't.  I've also noticed that I'm not the only one doing this; those of us living in the far reaches of Eastern Europe and beyond are relishing in the same sights and experiences.  This week I'm getting to experience so many of these forgotten pleasures that at moments I feel as thought I'm in sensory overload.  

Without a doubt I'm missing Sidney.  By the time I return home this weekend this will be the longest I've been away from him sine he was born.  I know he is in good hands with his dad and I'm loving the fact I can sprawl across the king sized bed and have all five pillows to myself.  I have full control of the television remote and haven't heard Elmo's lispy voice once.  Thanks to the Starbucks that is adjacent to my hotel I have regular access to my beloved vanilla lattes.  For the moment I'm in heaven.

I'm appreciating my time here and I know that is because this is all so different.  In a few days I'll be back to my Albanian reality and I am ok with that.  The hustle and bustle of my days will fill my time and I will  enjoy that as well.  In the meantime, I'm going to go order myself another vanilla latte.

No comments:

Post a Comment