Budapest, Hungary

Let me start off by saying that Budapest is one of the most amazing cities I have had the privilege of visiting. Most of the people are incredibly polite and helpful even though they barely speak English. The city has kept its old style architecture and is just beautiful and even the less good parts of the city aren’t as bad as most major cities in Europe. In just a few days we saw so many things in the city that I feel this summary cannot do it justice.

A friend of mine lent us his apartment for the week in the city centre. Our first night there we decided to try our luck at one of the local restaurants and we were extremely lucky. Hungarian food is not normally known for being delicate but this restaurant succeeded in preparing local dishes but with such finesse that even to our French palates it was very fine. We let the waiter choose our beer, our only instruction was that it had to be Hungarian. Out came a very flavourful beer that was fruity yet tangy at the same time. If you are limited to one restaurant only, make it Király 100

The next morning we went to find coffee and true to form, asked the cashier which was the best Hungarian coffee he had. It was good enough for me to bring back with me once the trip was over. First things first, we decided to go visit the Great Synagogue of Budapest. Synagogues are not usually known for the amazing beauty since the idea is for people to go there to worship God and not the architects (at least that is what I was taught) but this one had such amazing artistic details that I was not surprised to find out the architects had been influenced by the architecture of churches. We went to see the historical monuments and museum commemorating the Jewish community that used to live there before WWII and never before had I realised how much this Jewish community had given the world.

From there we decided to go towards the city centre and stop by the New York Cafe. It was like being transported back in time to the Austro-Hungarian empire. The live music playing classical pieces, along with the excellent food and drinks, in such an amazing decor and architecture was a once in a lifetime experience. The New York Cafe has survived both World Wars and is a must if ever you visit Budapest.

After walking around the city, we ended the day at the world renowned Szechenyi Baths thermal springs. I have a confession, it was my first time in a thermal spring and it is absolutely an experience I want to have again. It was such a good feeling, we both slept very deeply that night.

The next day, we went for a walk towards the Danube to see what would be there. We passed by a large building with amazing architecture and I could not contain my curiosity. I saw there were some armed guards so I decided to approach one of them and ask them what that building was. He was very proud in answering that it was the Hungarian Parliament. The beauty, the aesthetics, the feeling one feels when being so close to such grandeur… I am not one to follow authority very easily but seeing such a building makes you want to follow what is happening inside.

The next day, we did a tour on these great big 4 wheeled heavy duty electrical standing (or sitting) bikes with EZ Raider Budapest. Up until that point we had seen only Buda so we were excited to see Pest with this tour. Pest is the wealthier side of the city and it did not disappoint. Much quieter, with views overlooking the Danube and monuments that have been well maintained over the centuries. Right then, we decided to come back the next day and see the castle.

I have tried to keep this short because Budapest is a city that has to be experienced to really understand its magic. The one comical part of this visit that happened was due to my severe peanut allergy. Even though I had my epipen with me, I prefer to let the waiters know in case I choose something from the menu that has peanuts or was made close to peanuts. One restaurant refused to serve me any food, one waiter took the menu out of my hands forcibly and refused me dessert and so on. It is apparently not something they are used to and have no intention of testing the kitchen staff’s habit of keeping everything very well separated. At some point my mother just asked me to stop telling them of my allergy otherwise we’d be stuck eating at home all of our meals. So just keep that in mind if you do have allergies. But overall, it was a great experience and I would not be against visiting it again.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

I went to Dubai for 2 days, just for business. I knew I would barely have the time to do any tourist activities but if there is the possibility of mixing business and pleasure, I’d find a way. And I did.

First of all, let me say that the politeness and level of service of almost everyone in Dubai was incredible. How incredible? Even Americans, who are usually amongst the best at customer service, can learn from the people in Dubai.

Second, I was there at a time when antisemitic attacks were happening worldwide in numbers that had not been seen in decades and here I was going to a Muslim country whose normalization agreements were still fairly fresh. I had heard that there was nothing to worry about but the truth is that any Jew will tell you it’s never far from your thoughts. And wow. I was pleasantly surprised. At no point did I feel uncomfortable. 

I took a boat ride around Dubai and took loads of pictures with a camera that had no SD card in it so that means I now have to work extra hard to keep the memories of that trip in my mind. Since I was the only one on the boat, the crew were being extra attentive. Of course, it was heavily influenced by their desire to receive a tip but even so, they were very friendly. We were able to have a conversation about Dubai, their life, their goals and many interesting things.

There are many other things I wish I had had the time to do but let me say this already now, I am sure that one day I will be back.

Pauses for rest and pauses for strength

Sometimes we need a pause to rest and sometimes we need a pause to build. The lockdowns forced me along with everyone else to take a pause. Since it was completely unexpected (to me), I had many constraints without the time to be able to work on finding optimal solutions for them. But true to my nature, after a brief moment of stress, I found the best solutions I could and used it to my advantage to build new connections, meet new people and better develop the ultimate nest.

After some time to pause and rest, I took the time to build. During the weeks of confinement I focused my energy on building something new in business so that I would come out of the lockdown better than before. During the weeks of confinement I started a regular physical routine to work on improving myself and to come out of lockdown better than before. And during the weeks of confinement I took the time to really ask myself some tough questions about myself and my life which are easy to put aside in the day to day.

Unfortunately, towards the end of the confinement we lost Piggy to a virus. I know I did the best I could in real time to save her but in hindsight I see all of the mistakes. And though I know I did the best I could with the information I had, I still deal with some guilt. Especially, I deal with the pain of missing her.

So what now?

The lockdowns are over and various restrictions are easing. I had initially thought this would be the time I jump at the opportunity to travel again.

However, I still need some time to process some things. I still need some time to give my all to the new business and I still need some time to chill without the stress that comes from epic adventures – even when the stress is ultimately the good kind and the rewards are absolutely worth it.

I rented a beautiful place in the suburbs of Paris. I am almost in nature, there are windows all around (reminds me of the penthouse I had in my 20’s except that then my view was the sea and now my view is a forest). I will rest myself here, do more work than I could if I were on the road, take care of Lucy who is still a bit sick and… find and build our new land nest. No details on that yet. You’ll have to wait till next time.