- 27 Nov 2023 5:14 PM
She also studied in Aarhus and has lived in Amsterdam, Budapest, Moscow and Dubai. In the Netherlands she worked for Excerpta Medical Communications and for numerous cultural organisations. In Hungary, she spent several years with international organizations including the International Red Cross and the Red Nose Clown Doctors Foundation. She worked for the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation for over ten years, much of itf rom home office abroad.
She has been a freelance graphic designer for several years now and lives in Badacsonyörs when she is not travelling. She also runs a small rustique guesthouse, Wild Boar Cottage, with her husband. She is a vivid traveller and has visited almost 100 countries.
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Szombathely, close to the Austrian border. My kindergarten, elementary and high-school were in the same street as where I lived. Maybe that is the origin of my travel bug infection?
2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
We've lived overseas in various countries and what's wonderful is that, in spite of preconceptions about certain places, we've realized that there is always something beautiful and surprising to discover everywhere. I've even written a book about it. Returning to the question, I would opt for a destination that allows me to discover even more, particularly within nature. Sub-Saharan Africa has captivated me. I have visited many African nations, but there is still plenty to explore.
3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
My mother. She is one of the reasons we came back to Hungary.
4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
Take a train to Badacsony region and enjoy wine tasting, excursions, and a swim in Lake Balaton. It surprises me how many foreigners living in Budapest haven't been there. We run a guesthouse here where foreign visitors are always amazed by the region.
5.What is your favourite food?
Squid. It's not always easy to get hold of fresh grilled squid in Hungary, so whenever I can, whether at home or abroad, I take the chance to eat it. Simply grilled with garlic and seasoned with lemon. It is even so bad that I stop reading a menu when my eye catches squid.
6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
Every morning, I walk on the barefoot path that I made in ou garden, no weather stops me. If we are home, I swim in the Balaton, daily from May until October. If we are travelling, I spend at least 15 minutes stretching in the morning. I practice yoga and enjoy cycling.
7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
Badacsony area. I have been visiting this place since I was a kid, as my parents owned a small vineyard there. The volcanic hills, the lake, the wines, and the ambiance fills me with positive energy. Every day, every moment, when I glance around, I feel grateful.
8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
As a child, I wanted to be an archaeologist, as that would allow me to travel. Knowing what I know now, having seen what I have seen, I would expand it and be an explorer!
9. What’s a job you would definitely never want?
How doctors and teachers cope with their daily work is something I could never grasp but have always respected. Also, working for a multinational company is something what I try to avoid. With a lot of pleasure I worked for many international organisations, but the unnecessary pressure in those organizations is something that is not for me.
10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
I don’t really vacation as such. I am fortunate that I can basically do most of my work (graphic design) from anywhere. So when the weather gets chillier in our little paradise at Lake Balaton, we look for a warmer destinations. We learned to slow down when travelling, taking our time to absorb the culture, people, food and the temperature of course….Our recent travel was 2 months in Colombia, what an amazing country. We obviously saw only parts due to its size, but it was so diverse and welcoming.
11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
As I have just published my book (Wanderlust – trips outside the comfort zone from Brazil to Kamchatka), we are fully occupied with that. Normally around this time of the year we have a plan for the winter, now not much, as I have many events related to the book. Although I keep an eye on flights to Senegal, Gambia or Cape Verde .Uncovered African territory for me.
12. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Hair. Depeche Mode. Nothing has changed, I still try to get close to the unusual, thinking out of the box, somewhat rebellion thinking, I guess.
13. Apart from temptation what can't you resist?
Looking at maps. I can spend hours with that.
14. Red wine or white?
Both? We make some wine ourselves, mainly white, but we started with red a few years ago. Basically, I have my preferences with certain types of food, but not always in line with the tradition. It also depends on my mood, and what my husband gets us from the cellar.
15. Book or movie?
Difficult one; I love to read, but I need to be relaxed to do so. And only real paper books, I refuse to read from a screen. We don’t have a TV. We occasionally watch a documentary or a movie on internet. Afterwards I love researching about what I just saw. About the director, where it was filmed, about the actors etc. In summary I would say, in summer more books, in winter (if not travelling) 50/50.
16. Morning person or night person?
Night. As mentioned before, as a child I lived next to my schools, my dorm was next to my University, so I am well trained in getting up last minute. And during my study time in Denmark, I was trained even more, I lived mainly at night. It did not make a difference, in the winter months it was hardly light anyway during the day.
17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Indifference and prejudice towards other cultures / countries / regions. One cannot know everything, but in my opinion one cannot ignore differences and I expect people to at least do some effort to understand one and another.
18. Buda or Pest side?
Now Pest; living in the country side, makes a few days in Pest heaven. Seeing my friends, going to a theatre, an exhibition, or getting any type of food, all is walking or biking distance.
19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
The Wanderlust book I just published. I have been thinking about and working on this book for 2 years, and it just got published in English and Hungarian, so very fresh. Not only writing it gave me much pleasure, but as it is self-published, I am responsible for everything. From designing it, typesetting, selecting a printing house, till figuring out how to ship it affordably outside of Hungary too. I learned a lot again. I will have quite some talks and book launch events coming up in the coming weeks in Budapest, Pécs, Szombathely, Badacsonyörs and Amsterdam. The first one is a TEDx talk on 11 Nov at BME, in English.
I have also made a website for the book and it can be ordered there: www.wanderlustbook.hu . The Hungarian website is www.mennikell.hu .The latter will be also available at Libri/Bookline.
20. What would you say is your personal motto?
The impossible is possible. As a child, I already dreamed about travelling, which was practically unthinkable in the 70’s in Hungary. And look where we are, I visited almost 100 countries and I even published a book about it.