Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; and environs: October 19 - 24
On Friday afternoon, Val Haskell and I will arrive in Budapest, meeting Emily Cain, Danielle Nava, and Gwendena Real Bird (bios here) at the Starlight Suites Hotel (is this really Las Vegas?), before we tour the Buda Castle area, and have dinner with Hungarian Marshall Fellowship alumni.
Saturday morning, we'll ride for an hour to get to Tatabanya, where we will visit the Open Air Mining Museum (I'm not making this up). Then we will visit a "Roma Ghetto" before walking up the Hill of Tatabanya, for a look at the famous Turul Bird and the Szelim cave. We'll have lunch in the Restaurant at the Top of the Hill, where we will meet with the city clerk and the Deputy Mayor of Tatabanya. And then (and I'm still not making this up) we'll tour the regional landfill site in Tatabanya.
Then, late in the afternoon, we will travel to the neighboring historic city of Tata, where we will have dinner, and walk around the lakes and castle.
Then, in the evening, we will travel to Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic (near the borders of both Austria and Hungary). We will stay at Hotel William.
Late Sunday morning, we'll have a guided tour of Bratislava, with attention to its multicultural heritage.
Sunday afternoon, we have some free time to visit the museum, gallery, or castle.
Sunday evening, we'll have dinner at the home of Pavol Demes, German Marshall Fund Director for Central and Eastern Europe (and formerly Minister of International Relations from 1991-1992, and Foreign Policy Advisor of the President of the Slovak Republic from 1993-1997).
Monday morning, we meet with Michal Kovac, President of Slovakia from 1993 - 1998. That must have been a very exciting time to have been President, so this interview will be most interesting.
Then we're off to a meeting with the political scientist Grigorij Meseznikov, President of the Institute for Public Affairs. The discussion will revolve around domestic social and political developments in Slovakia.
At lunch, we'll meet with Milan Urbani, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the National Council of the Slovak Republic.
Monday afternoon, we will meet with Dr. Roman Schoenwiesner, Deputy Head of the EU representation in Slovakia. Naturally, we'll discuss Slovakia's representation in the European Union.
Then we have a little free time(!) before a working dinner at 7pm with Daniel Lipsic, a former Minister of Justice of the Slovak Republic.
Tuesday morning, we'll head over to the Slovak High School for a conversation with students. I am particularly looking forward to this meeting in the high school gym. As a headmaster, I was always interested to tour other schools, but I've certainly never had the chance to do so in a place like Slovakia.
Then we take a bus over to SARIO, the Slovak Agency for Investment Development and Foreign Trade, to discuss economic development and foreign investment.
After lunch on our own, we'll head over to the Government Office to meet with Erika Adamova, the spokesperson for Dusan Caplovic, who is Deputy Prime Minister for Knowledge-Based Society, European Affairs, Human Rights, and Minorites. She'll discuss diversity and minorities in Slovakia with us.
Tuesday evening, our individual appointments are still pending. But by 7:30 we'll be back together for dinner with Rodolphe "Skip" Valle, the US Ambassador to Slovakia (and also an entrepreneur with a very interesting background).
Wednesday morning, we all get together to go to the Budapest Airport, where we head to Berlin via Munich, for the last leg of our trip.
"...hunt, drink, sing, dance, sail, and dig; and those that would not should be compelled by force."
-- HILAIRE BELLOC