So as we do every two years, Carol’s company takes us on a working vacation to fancy foreign destinations with a small intimate group of about 350 people. This past June we went to Budapest for 6 days (then on to Prague on our own dime for another 3 days).
Once again, I got the not so subtle reminder that life can be a two-faced she devil. One moment as sublime as a bird’s feather floating on a gentle breeze and the next a 2×4 that knocks out most of your front teeth like you’re playing in your first hockey game.
After all these years of traveling you’d think I would know better, I made sure all my expensive camera gear was well protected and in my constant possession from Seattle to Amsterdam and then on to Budapest, but my camera belt pack had to be stored in my checked bag and in there were a bunch of items I never considered all that worthy of attention or sticky fingers. Six SD memory cards totaling 82 gigabytes worth of potential images got stolen, not to mention several backup batteries. So my first morning in Budapest was spent freaking out trying to fathom how dumb I was to have put my gear in harms way like that.
Having two Canon 5D bodies and several “L” series lenses doesn’t do you any good if you dont have memory cards on which to store the images you shoot. I had one 16gig card loaded in one body on the flight over, all the rest were in the belt pack. I went from being able to take over 3,000 shots down to about 550. I was planning to shoot at least 2,000. I did not fly half way around the world for 20+ hours to shoot 550 shots; Carol had to talk me down off the 7th floor ledge of the Sofitel.
So why not just buy some new memory cards, right? It turns out that in this part of the world you pay about 600% more than you should for them in the US, not mention that the best camera store I could find only had one SD card even hanging on the wall. That one 8gig card cost 30,000 farfignuggens (or whatever the local monopoly money is called), and that translates to about $117 US dollars. Thank you Mr Geitner for QE1 and QE2, let’s bring on QE3! Now that’s bang for your buck!
I stuffed down my pride and ponied up my credit card and said “let’s do this” to the clerk. I ripped open the box, loaded the new card into my camera immediately and said “smile” to the guy who had just ripped off the desperate (quickly turning ugly) American. At which point I needed a drink, so we found a Starbucks nearby where I could get a coffee for a price I’m much more accustomed to.
The point being, I did get my shots — almost 1,000 of them, thanks in part to a loaner SD card from Dave Thomas the pro hired by PacLife to document this trip in film, and those are finally loaded onto my home PC and ready for editing. When done you can look for some of those shots on my website.
Later on while getting ready for a cocktail party, the same day I discovered that my memory cards got ripped off, I went looking for my new leather dress belt — gone, then “where are my news socks!?!?!”, they were still in the Nordstrom’s packaging, so I guess that makes a pair of socks worth stealing!?!?
But enough about Budapest …
Prague gets a lot of press as one of the cleanest and most picturesque big cities in the world, and it gets my vote as the most photogenic urban landscape I’ve ever seen. So check back for those shots.
BTW … the image above was taken from our room looking from the “pest” side of the Danube over at the “Buda” side of the city. A financial adviser not to be named plunked that bottle down on the dinner table the night before and insisted we all do shots with him. It was a wild time to be sure, so I had to have a picture to commemorate it.