- 12 Feb 2020 7:35 AM
After finishing her college studies in ecotourism and nature conservation, Szilvia went on to pursue a career in Hungarian tourism. After some experimenting in the industry, she founded her own company to serve as the Hungarian ground agent of the renowned Swiss tour operator, Arcatour. For six years, Szilvia was organising and guiding birdwatching and nature observation tours in the country.
At the same time, she worked as a freelance field guide at the Hortobágy Nature and Gene Conservation Ltd. Her main focus was on presenting and preserving the Hortobágy National Park's flora and fauna, and the centuries-old traditions of the local people, including the world-famous herdsmen traditions and handicrafts.
With a strong passion for travel and birdwatching, she accompanied her husband to countries like Uganda, Tunisia, Malaysia and Canada. They have seen almost half of the Indian subcontinent and visited remote places like the north-western and north-eastern border areas of India, as well as the Andaman Islands.
Ornithology, nature- and heritage conservation became not just a job, but a lifelong passion for Szilvia. She suspended guiding when her first child was born.
After becoming location independent, Szilvia and her husband, András set out for an open-end trip to Southeast Asia with their two children. Driven by their never-ending hunger for travel and discovery, they spent months both in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, living a mix of expat and digital nomad life. After two years on the road, they returned to Hungary in November 2019. You can read about their adventures in their experimental travel blog, explorationlounge.com.
During this trip, Szilvia started a career as a freelance creative writer, another lifelong passion of hers. She works for clients from the travel and the beauty industries, as well as photographers and artisans. Take a look at her portfolio here, or connect with her on LinkedIn.
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Romania, into a Hungarian family. We emigrated to Hungary while the dictator Ceausescu was still in power. I was nine years old.
2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?That's a difficult question! I have so many favourite places. At this point, I would say Bali.
3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
Friends, family, the landscape of the 'puszta'. Swearing in Hungarian. I mean that's so creative, with endless possibilities. I'm joking... no, I'm not.
4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
The Great Market Hall. I find markets fascinating. The food in Hungary is worth its weight in gold, so we would definitely explore some of the historic restaurants as well as the newest additions to the food scene.
5. What is your favourite food?
Indian. But let's talk Hungary. Töltött káposzta. Stuffed cabbage in English. My grandma used to make the most delicious of all. These days I very rarely eat meat, so it has become a rare encounter.
6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
Yoga and sleeping. Seriously. My firstborn is seven years old. I haven't slept in, let's see, exactly seven years.
7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
My favourite places are in the southern protected areas of the Hortobágy National Park. And the steppe just north of the Máta Stud Farm, where I used to work daily. And the north coast of Lake Balaton, that's truly amazing.
8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
Barista. You know, I have a slight obsession with coffee. I love writing, and I love the jobs I had before. I would want to work with traditional communities all over the world, helping them preserve their cultural heritage and identity and empowering them. There are many different ways to achieve that. For example, I admire the work of the British NGO, Turquoise Mountain.
9. What's a job you would definitely never want?
10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Croatia. That was the last trip we called a vacation.
11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
Portugal or Morocco.
12. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Honestly, I have no idea what I was doing as a teen.
13. Apart from temptation, what can't you resist?
14. Red wine or white?
Red. And pálinka. Oh, does coffee with alcohol count?
15. Book or movie?
16. Morning person or night person?
Night person. Regularly up until 3-4 am.
17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Large-scale conflicts, wars, and the humanitarian, cultural and natural destruction they cause.
18. Buda or Pest side?
19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
Trekking in Ladakh for ten days in search of Snow Leopards, after being hit by severe altitude sickness right upon arrival. Oh, and being able to keep my nerves with the kids. Definitely. Most of the time. OK, 50% of the time... well, they still like me, you know.
20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I'll give you one of my favourite quotes. "The only thing that is constant is change." From Heraclitus.