Last week, I said my wife and I had met a fellow from Aiken -- the one in South Carolina -- on our riverboat cruise from Germany to Hungary.
Well, the small world got smaller during our remaining days in Budapest, Hungary, a place where I could not stop taking photos, or seeing familiar things.
January 5 was our last morning on the boat. My wife Kristi and I were waiting for a cab to take us from the riverboat, docked on the Danube River in Budapest, to a nearby hotel. Kristi started pointing at another passenger and telling me to look at his long-sleeved t-shirt.
Ever the obedient husband, I grudgingly walked up to the guy and noticed his Myrtle Beach State Park t-shirt.
I started one of those awkward, "Hey, I saw your t-shirt! I'm from Myrtle Beach!" conversations, which also ended awkwardly, but like my encounter with the guy from Aiken, I was surprised to meet someone with a connection to my part of the world while on the Viking Njord riverboat, docked in Budapest, of all places.
Our cab arrived, and we went to our hotel, the Intercontinental. We squeezed out 20 more Euros to have a room with a view of the Danube River.
The room would have been perfect if it had only had free wireless Internet access. As one might expect, a moving riverboat doesn't always have the strongest, or most consistent, Internet connection. Now, Kristi and I wanted the highest high-speed, broadest broad-band we could get. Except we weren't willing to spend 20-30 Euros per day for it.
Our problem was solved later that afternoon when we accidentally stumbled upon a British pub on a street behind our hotel. You might recall, from reading previous Beerman columns in the Weekly Surge, I was able to visit England four times between 2009 and 2011 while my in-laws were working over there. Kristi and I certainly had become familiar with pubs in England.
And here was one in Budpest, not only promising familiar food, but free WiFi, too. I only felt the faintest, briefest twinge of guilt for not finding a proper Hungarian eatery.
The reassurance of WiFi drew us back a second night, on Sunday, Jan. 6, our last day before we began a chain of three flights homeward, Budapest to Frankfurt, Germany, to Charlotte, N.C., to Myrtle Beach.
Earlier that day, Kristi and I had walked through a large intersection in a shopping district. We saw TGI Friday's, Subway, Burger King, and other familiar chains from America.
And now, back at the pub for the second night, another patron had requested the Ravens-Colts game. I was in Budapest, in a British pub, watching NFL football.
I got a look at the guy who apparently had requested the NFL game on satellite TV. From my angle, I could see the tell-tale marks of my alma mater's rival. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt. It had light-blue letters. I could see a few of the letters that make up the world "Carolina."
I was thousands of miles from home. I hadn't been mugged. I hadn't been robbed. I hadn't been sold into a network of underground human trafficking. But I still could not avoid the assault of a UNC sweatshirt.
Oh, well, that's the way it goes for N.C. State fans. Unlike the fellow with the Myrtle Beach State Park t-shirt, the guy with the UNC sweatshirt did not receive an awkward introduction from me.
-Colin Foote Burch