When I was in Budapest for our 10-year MBA reunion, a classmate had organized a tour of the brand-new CEU campus. As you enter on Nador utca 15, you’re greeted by this quote from George Soros.
The entire new campus so beautiful, functional and full of well-designed details, it kind of makes you want to go back to university again.
There are little study areas with computer screens around every corner.
Even the benches on the roof have power outlets, so you can sit there with your laptop and get work done. Though I doubt, people would want to work there, when the can instead enjoy the sun and a view of all of Budapest’s architectural highlights.
I graduated from Central European University (CEU) in 2007, so for the ten-year reunion, I added a 36 hour visit to the city at the end of my Vienna trip.
A lot has improved in the city. Gone are the Soviet-era buses and metros cars on the M2 metro line I took to class every day.
Instead trains and stations have been upgraded and squares such Kossuth tér and Deák Ferenc tér are looking great.
Outside the city center, however, it’s a different story. Városliget (above) is well maintained, full of people and no place to sit down. Népliget (below) is full of benches nobody wants to sit on and looks like it had been untouched since the 1980s.
Same along Kerepesi út where the CEU dormitory is. Sure, they installed some new benches there, but overall the area was almost unchanged since I had last seen it 10 years ago.
And the M3 metro line still features its original trains, signage and depressing color scheme.
Vienna was the latest destination on my Capitals of Europe list.
This city is so amazingly beautiful. It’s impossible to walk around and not be impressed by grand architecture everywhere you turn; with one exception, see end of this post. Particularly on the ring streets that opened up for development in 1865 after city fortifications there had been demolished.
My favorite place was the quiet park behind Palais Liechtenstein.
Even though other parks such as Volksgarten were pretty great, too.
Beach-feeling along Donaukanal on this hot summer day as cafés had put out beach chairs.
Standing out from all the grand buildings is this house on Liechtensteiner Straße that dares to be ugly.
Capital by John Lanchester has been mentioned on this blog several times , ,  as it is one of my favorite books. I particularly like its many initially distinct, but eventually overlapping story lines.
When we read complex books like this in school, the teacher would make us plot out the locations where the story took place or visualize the connections between its characters.
I didn’t believe it at the time, but it’s true that such as structured approach to a story really does make you understand and thus appreciate it more. It’s too bad I didn’t have this realization back then. Sorry, Ms. Bartholdi.
So having just finished the book (again), I tried graphing the connections between all of the main characters (i.e. characters that are connected to two or more other characters). At the center is the We Want What You Have campaign that brings them all together.
Today’s photo excursion took me few kilometers outside of Düsseldorf to Schloss Dyck, one the most beautiful water castles in this part of Germany.
The castle is surrounded by beautifully landscaped parks and patches of forest.