Three months away from Orange County, California is always enough for a bit of reverse culture shock, but it's still good to be home. I just flew in the other day after two months in Portugal and one in Budapest. I'd thought I might stay in Europe for six months like I did last year, but in the end I decided to keep things legal this time around. Ninety days is the limit for a tourist visa, unfortunately.
Last year I got away with overstaying my visa, but not without a bit of hassle from immigration on the way out. Perhaps it's best not to push my luck two years in a row.
And so I'm back to the land of fancy cars and plastic surgery, beautiful beaches and summer traffic. I'll be here for a week or two with my parents and then on up to the mountains to spend some time at Mammoth, finishing my latest novel (so close now!) and working on my next project.
Living the itinerant lifestyle is always interesting. In some ways I feel like I have a completely separate life in Budapest now. I'm comfortable there, I know my way around, and I have tons of friends.
I remember the first summer I spent in Budapest, in 2009. I went there because rents were cheap and I thought it would be a good place to write. When I arrived I didn't know a soul. Sometime during my first week there I took a walk around Margaret Island, a big city park in the middle of the Danube.
Groups of people were having picnics on the lawns all over the park. When I looked at those groups of people I couldn't help but be a little jealous. I wished I had a group of friends that I could have a picnic with, instead of simply walking around all alone.
Three years later, I think I have more friends in Budapest than anyplace else on earth, including California. Last weekend my friend Alla organized a picnic on Margaret Island.
What a nice change from those first few days back in 2009! Alas, it was very sad to leave this time around, but I can't complain too much. You can't surf in Budapest. There's no mountain biking either, or hiking without taking a tram all the way out to the Buda hills.
Budapest is a nice city to spend the summer in, as far as cities go, but how nice is spending the summer in a city, really? Maybe two summers there are enough after all. One thing is for sure, after some time away, it is always nice to come home.