As you will remember, earlier this year I returned to Oxford 15 years after my first visit there. Only a few days later, [m] and I visited Brighton, and while we were there I realized that I’d first been to Brighton a whole 20 years ago, back in 1992.

And, a little while ago, I went back to yet another place I hadn’t been to in over a decade, Pannonhalma Abbey in Hungary. All in all, this was my third visit to Pannonhalma, and this time I went there during a kind of art historical field trip in the company of students and colleagues from both Austria and Hungary. Of course, Pannonhalma is what you could call a must see for anyone with an interest in medieval art and architecture. The 13th century abbey church is one of the earliest buildings in the Gothic style not only in Hungary but in the whole of Central Europe, and its Porta Speciosa is certainly one of the most beautiful medieval portals you’re likely to see, well, anywhere:

Pannonhalma Abbey, The Porta Speciosa, c. 1220-1225 (Photo taken April 2012)

It was quite interesting for me to see how differently I looked at the abbey’s architecture now, after years of art historical training and with a more or less thorough knowledge of medieval architecture, when compared to my first visit there. I’m not sure what year that first visit actually took place, but it must have been at some point in the mid- to late 1990s. Back then, I was still in grammar school and – while certainly interested in the Middle Ages – had little to no actual knowledge of medieval art. It’s perhaps not surprising then that what I remember most from that visit isn’t so much the abbey itself but the company I was in, namely my family and [h], an elderly gentleman who was a dear friend of our family and who passed away several years ago…

Pannonhalma Abbey, The 15th century cloister (Photo taken April 2012)

Only a few years after that first visit, I returned to Pannonhalma in the company of [m] and our Hungarian friend [h] (apparently, a different [h] from the one mentioned above – hm, perhaps we need to reconsider our policy of abbreviating first names…). This was in March 2000 during the preparations for what has since become known in our own personal history as “The Hungarian Wedding” (actually, [h]’s wedding). Again, I only have vague recollections of the abbey itself. This may partly be due to the fact that our visit didn’t take too long since we arrived there only shortly before closing time. But I guess it’s mostly because our visit to Pannonhalma was just one minor item in a long and crazy weekend, and certain other, er, ongoings on that trip turned out to be much more memorable. Well, I won’t go into details on that, but let me just say that there’s I reason why I spelled Hungarian Wedding with capital letters…

Pannonhalma Abbey, The 15th century cloister (Photo taken March 2000)

Now, I’m not sure if any of this is even interesting to you or why I’m even writing about it. I guess it’s just that all this revisiting and reminiscing has somehow made me feel, well, not exactly old but, you know, weird… I mean, I still feel as if any sentence beginning with the words “20 years ago I was…”, when referring to me, ought to end with “in kindergarten”, and it feels weird to be able to say: “20 years ago I was in Brighton (and travelling abroad without my parents for the first time)”.

On the other hand, it feels kind of cool to able to say: “Twelve years ago, [m] and I went to Hungary together”. I definitely like the sound of that.