It`s been a cruel summer with you!
Saying goodbye is never easy. Saying goodbye to the best year of your life is even harder. Because there was A LOT going on in 2023, this season of Marcus in Budapest will be split into two parts. I`m still faster than the writers of Emily in Paris. When does Netflix finally give me my own show?
The Intro of Season 5 is again brought to you by Taylor Swift in her Era`s Era (Taylors Version) featuring the 1975-y Finsbur-y Matty Healy at his very best:
“Well, I think I’ve gone mad, isn’t that so sad? „What a shame, you’ve lost a brain that you never had“
You won’t believe half the things I see inside my head. Wait ‚til you see half the things that haven’t happened yet.
I searched all day, it drove me insane. Where would I be if I was my brain?
What would you do if they never found us out? What would you do if we never made a sound?
Well I know when you’re around ‚cause I know the sound of your heart.
I was not lying when I said Taylor and Matty will rule 2023. Congratulations Person of the Year.
41. The Year of the Rabbit
The Chinese calendar is different. The Chinese calendar does not count years in an infinite sequence. Each year is assigned a name consisting of two components within each 60-year cycle. The first component is a celestial stem. The second component is a terrestrial branch. It features the names of animals in a zodiac cycle consisting of 12 animals.
2023 was the Year of the Rabbit. It was also Year of the Rabbit when I was born in 1987.
People born in the Year of the Rabbit are believed to be quiet, kind, polite, restrained and thoughtful. They also tend to hesitate and wait, proceeding with caution or reservation, which can cause them to miss opportunities.
Highly sensitive and sentimental, those born in the Year of the Rabbit attach importance to friendship and fellowship. However, due to their tender-hearted nature, they can be easily hurt and influenced by their emotions.
The only thing I could think about when I read about the Year of the Rabbit was: “Peace out Rabbit” – Eminem walking away to do his own thing, Lose Yourself playing in the background. I guess I have to re-watch 8 Mile. So the beginning of the year was all about walking away from un-supportive, egoistic groups of people and looking ahead. Even if it means being on my own.
I even signed a contract to move to a new city in summer. But destiny kept me in Amsterdam for a bit longer. More on that later. So while I was preparing for my year, I made a pact with myself. Take at least 12 international trips this year to visit 12 different countries. I had to start with a small trip, but a country I have never been to in my life.
One week later I was on the 40-minute plane trip to London. Actually, the train ride from the airport into London takes longer than the flight from Amsterdam to London. I enjoyed London that much, that I even came back later again during summer. This city is just too huge to be discovered fully in one weekend. There are not many cities in the world that can claim this.
My second trip of the year was to Paris. On my way home to Germany I took the Flixbus and made a day stop in the city where the Olympics will be hosted in 2024. Night bus into Paris, night bus out of Paris. I saved the hotel costs completely. My day trip to Paris was just 19 EUR for the bus. Cheaper than taking the bus directly to Germany. And being in Paris from 8am to 8pm was more than enough to see the most important sights. It`s nothing compared to London.
Almost Spring. Almost Tulip time.
42. The Tulip Triangulation
But before we get into the Tulip fields of the Netherlands, let`s recap two more spring trips. A sleepless weekend getaway to Edinburgh and starting my running era at the beaches of Portugal and Spain.
Visiting Edinburgh in early March is maybe not the best time in the year. Visiting Edinburgh in early March without place to stay overnight is for sure not the best idea. I considered myself smart and signed up for a pub crawl with the intention to just stay in the pubs until the sun rises again. What I did not know is that all pubs and nightclubs in Edinburgh close at 2am.
I found myself homeless on the street in the middle of the freezing night, light snow falling from the sky and tired from the day. The only place that opens before 8am was McDonalds. They opened at 5am. After three hours of wandering around a Edinburgh ghost downtown, I was sitting in the McDonalds chatting with some other travelers and party goes trying to find a place to stay the night. At least I was not the only one who did not know about Scotland’s strange pub law. The rest of the trip was nice.
A little it warmer was my second trip of the month, to Portugal. Including day excursion to Sevilla and Lagos. It was almost 30 degrees in Sevilla. Can`t imagine the heat during summer there. Probably my favorite city in Spain, after Barcelona turned out as disappointment. And during spring I was even able to see it in blossom season. Very strange to see Spain with all the pink and white flowers and trees. Semana Santa. There was also a large procession planned for the Sunday, but I skipped this one.
To drive back to Portugal. I brought my cheap running shoes and did some 10k easy runs. 10k. Easy run. Who would have thought? Not me.
The third big spring trip was at home. To Tulip Terrain. Keukenhof. The largest and most famous exhibition of tulips in the Netherlands. But more impressive were the endless colorful tulip fields in the towns around Keukenhof. I found another Tulip Barn close to Hillegom, watched all the tourists take tulip field selfies and cycling around. The sun shining all day. Spent the morning at the beach in Zandvoort and the afternoon walking inside huge tulip fields. I do understand now why this has become such a huge tourist attraction. And I started to really feel at home at this place.
How do they say on Tiktok? My spark was finally coming back.
43. The Come Back Runner
As a kid I hated running. I was fat and slow. I never made it to the finish line in time. And everything did hurt. I made a promise to myself that I will never run a meter in my life after my last day of athletics classes in high school. And here I am running around the largest lake of Europe in the middle of the night. Second time at the Ultrabalaton. First time as runner.
It was the longest Friday in my life. After work I took the plane to Budapest. Plane was delayed so I arrived at midnight. Got my rental car and drove down to Lake Balaton.
I went to sleep at 2am and we had to get up at 4am for the start. Not a single minute of sleep. Then I was standing at the starting line taking my first picture as runner ever. Few more sunrise pictures later I was at my first running section.
Went in way too hard, because I had no experience from competitions, only training. I died almost every minute during the 7km, and again for the other 7km and again for the other 7km. Except the last 7km I had to run in darkness. Without sleep for 40 hours.
All exhaustion vanished on the finish line accepting my second Ultrabalaton medal. YOLO, right? Time for sleep – nope. I had to get back to my rental car and then drive up to Budapest again. I slept two hours in my car and it was daylight again. Once I finally got a proper sleep it was Sunday evening. But for me it was still Friday. The longest Friday ever.
Flash-forward to October. It`s 9am. Hail rain is pouring down from the sky. I`m at the Olympic stadium of Amsterdam in shorts and t-shirt. My bib number is getting wet and it`s freezing cold. Ten more minutes to run my first Marathon.
Summer training did not go well. Too hot. Too many travels. Covid. But I had signed up for the marathon, so there was no way out. Even if I have to walk the last 20k. And then I was running through Vondelpark, trying not to crash into one of the other million runners on the track which all seemed to be slower than me.
At the half marathon mark my left knee started to hurt. But I got used to running in pain. That was part of my preparation runs. Just not for 21k. At kilometer 30 I had to take my first walking break. From now on it was a run – walk – run session. The spectators were screaming my name they read from the bib number on my shirt. No way to walk if everyone screams your name.
The last 5km were the toughest. Pushing above the limit. But I knew that I will make it to the finish line within the time limit, so I was already celebrating inside and trying to enjoy the final parts. At kilometer 40 a blister in my right toe exploded. Hard to describe this one. My toe nail is still not back til this day.
And then I am again at the Olympic stadium. Destinys Child Survivor blasting out of the JBL speakers. The last 500m. Sunshine is peeking through the clouds. Across the finish line. Getting my medal. Limping my way outside the stadium doors.
What they don`t tell you about marathons is, that the marathon does not end with the finish line. You have to get back home somehow. And you will not be able to get out of bed or your flat for an indefinite amount of time. You will limp for four more weeks. But yeah – the fucking medal is worth it for sure.
Next goal Triathlon, Ironman 70.3 and then Kona. Did someone say USA?
44. The Pi En Double You
The Pacific North West of the United States of America aka the PNW of the USA. I had this trip planned for summer 2020. Until hell broke loose and my life turned upside down. Now that I have reclaimed my identity, it was time to finally take the trip to one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
Funny coincidence was that it also turned into an adventure ride of transporting mail from Budapest, over Amsterdam, Seattle and Portland til Los Angeles. I don’t think there was ever a piece of mail that did this exact trip within three weeks.
As a big Greys Anatomy fan, Seattle was one of my favorite stops on the tour. There isn`t much that compares to the view over the city from Kerry park with the white hood of mount Rainier and the Space Needle in the background. I will never forget how the first two season of this series made me feel.
And then I hopped into my Jeep Wrangler with rooftop tent and was on the road up the mountain. There was still a lot of snow in the mid of May, so the highest part of the road was closed. Suddenly I was in the middle of a winter wonderland, while down the road it was 30 degrees in the sun.
Next stop on the road was Portland. Probably the weirdest city of the US. In the middle of downtown, if you take a road to the left of right you are suddenly surrounded by graffiti and weird statues. But also junkies and tent cities of homelessness. Every year I come back to the US it seems to get worse and worse. I did not feel very save in this city center, so I hopped back onto the jeep seat and drove up to Mount Hood.
My favorite city in Oregon will always be Bend. I never heard of it before reading Playing with FIRE. And finally standing in Bend myself, it felt like closing a cycle which started with reading my first financial independence book in Stamford, 2019. This city is from another planet. Such a contrast to Portland. Like a large Stars Hollow. And even though it was May, due to the high altitude it still had Spring vibes with cherry tree blossom everywhere. I did not want to leave this place.
Some more canyons, waterfalls and snowy mountains later I was back in Portland. I had a meeting to attend. The first get together of the Fioneers. I just read about it randomly two weeks before on Facebook, and figured that I might be around Portland at the same time, and now I was sitting in a cider bar somewhere in the outskirts of Portland talking to ten other FIRE enthusiasts about our plans and goals. This is what I mean with closing a cycle.
One of those trips that you do not plan, because they plan you.
Back to Seattle I watched my first baseball game ever. Took a weekend flight to Los Angeles, delivered my package, felt like a hero at Warner Brothers studios, went to Getty museum, had my second In and out burger, discovered how run down Venice, Santa Monica and basically all of LA have become since COVID and took a long flight from Los Angeles over Seattle and San Francisco back to Amsterdam.
45. The Amster Dam Tourist
Late nights in the middle of June. There is something beautiful in discovering you own city with tourist eyes. Revisiting familiar places gaining a fresh view. From someone who has never walked these streets before. Just like writing a song, getting stuck on the last rhyme. Not being able to come up with a good composition. But then someone steps in and finishes the sentence effortlessly. In the getaway car…and I`m losing my, something.
Every time I do one of my Amsterdam tours I`m amazed how much I already know about this little city I have moved to exactly one year ago. And how beautiful it is to see with touristy eyes.
The canal lights at night, the street art colors, the bicycle madness, the smell of historic street toilets, the tesla bikes of Amsterdam, the crooked houses, the scent of fresh products, the dark water, the endless list of unvisited coffeeshops, the rainbow flags, the influencer gangs, the selfie tourists, the red lights, the beach clubs, the SUP boards, the people in the windows, the triple X, the transformer houses, the ferry boats, the crazy loud dutch, the skyline of cranes, the remorseless heat during summer, the curtainless windows, the toilet seat, the sunset at 11pm, the crowded cafes on a Monday midnights, the feeling of safety, the amazing people I met in this city.
I love being a stupid tourist in Amsterdam from time to time. Back to the unvisited coffee places…
- Anook – Classic coffeeshop and patries in the center of De Pijp, very aesthetic, because as we say in Germany the eye eats with you.
- Luuks – Little chain of coffeeshops in Amsterdam, very minimalistic design in blue and white. I love Gilmore Girls, so I cannot not got to Lukes.
- Rum Baba – this one is a bit hidden, and there are not many places to sit down. It`s more a to go place. But the baristas were very nice and the cake is the best I ever had in Amsterdam.
- Sam’s koffie – The area around this place has become one of my favorite in Amsterdam, not a lot of tourists here. So maybe I`m biased by that, but definitely a place for good coffee.
- Berry Amsterdam – not too far from Sam`s koffie, same area. Check out both of them when you are there.
I`m running out of coffee places, so I have to extend the categories. Sneak Peek to some recommendations & categories which are coming soon:
- Pizza (Nnea, Sotto, Mangia, dePizzabakers)
- Burger (Maijard Smashburger, Paindemie)
- Sweets (Polaberry, Le Petit Deli, Fort Negen)
If we were in GTA Amsterdam – I would say my map completion rate is around 95%. It might make sense to look for an expansion pack soon. How about GTA Munich?
46. The Road to Munich
There is this one city in Germany, I was always supposed to end up in. And I never did.
This is the fairy tale of the Road to Munich.
Since I can remember, I always have been a fan of FC Bayern Munich. I watched the last second championship wins over Leverkusen and Schalke around the millennium. The Champions League title in 2001. I got destroyed at the Finale Dahoam in 2012 and dreamed of our Wembley night with Robbery. But I have never seen a live football game at the Allianz Arena. It was always supposed to be once I moved to Munich.
For my university study between 2010 to 2015 I had to decide between Munich and Bayreuth. Bayreuth was the cheaper option. I could still go there for my Masters, right? But I did my Masters in Bayreuth too. At least it was close to visit. The first and only time I visited Munich was a day train trip in 2013.
Then I applied for an internship in Munich, skipped the interview and started my internship in Karlsruhe instead. The place I also started to work full time and lived until I moved to Budapest. Where Marcus in Budapest was born.
Some more unsuccessful job applications around Munich later I moved to Amsterdam, where I still am. Then in January of this year I finally signed a work contract at a company in Munich and started my preparations to move. It is finally coming come.
But a little voice told me I`m not done with Amsterdam yet. I resigned again from my contract, before even starting the job. What a mess. Still no Bayern Munich game at the Allianz Arena. Still not living in the city I was supposed to live already for the past 15 years.
But this journey is not over yet. Next year destiny has already planned three visits to Munich for me. Taylor Swift and Coldplay concerts in the Olympia Stadion and finally, finally a football game in the Allianz Arena. The semifinal of the UEFA European Football Championship. Enough time to discover Munich a little bit better and decide if I really want to move to this city at some point in my life.
The Road to Munich never ends.
Mid-Season. What better way to waste it than in a hammock at 30 degrees in the desert of Amsterdam. Let`s take a look back at some of the highlights from the first half of Season 5:
- Running is the new cycling. 4 half marathon, 1 three quarter marathon, 1 Ultrabalaton, 2 pairs of new shoes, 4 bloody toes and 99 blisters later it is time to start preparations for the marathon. Or Ironman?
- Spain, UK, France, Luxembourg, Scotland, Portugal, Germany, Hungary, USA aka Sevilla, London, Paris, Edinburgh, Lagos, Budapest, Seattle, Portland, Bend, Los Angeles had a guest role in the first six episodes.
- Sleeping at the airport saves money but is uncomfortable. Sleeping in a night club in Edinburgh is not the best idea. Neither is sleeping on the streets when it is snowing. Side note: McDonalds in Edinburgh opens at 5am
- Matty and Taylor, still at their very best, finally getting together and breaking up within two weeks. Or didn`t they? Speak Now!
- The Road to Munich turned out to be a major plot twist. Emily would be so proud of this storyline.
- The Dutch people are as orange, crazy and loud, as usual. Someone stole a cup at the Homomonument on Kings Day because a guy peed on a tree. And selfies in tulip fields don`t work when your phone is dead.
- The toxic people gracefully exited the show. We wish them all the best. Luckily we were able to replace all side-actors quickly with an international star ensemble. Might be interesting to stay tuned for the second half of Season 5.
- Spoiler: It will take another season until we will see a successful wine bottle opening without wine art. Btw, where did all the art plot in Season 5 come from?