Have you ever really lived?

Have you ever decided not to let go, no matter?
And continue to stand?

Have you ever been so tired you couldn’t stand –
but were still glad to be going?

Have you ever closed your eyes and still kept going –
all into the unknown with discomfort and stingy joy?

Have you ever succumbed in joy so much
you wanted to get out but had to stayed?

Have you ever felt you had to stay for good
’cause that’s what everyone wanted you to do – and still quit?

Your greatest principle of all – have you quit it
to do good for someone else?

Have you stopped yourself judging others
just for the sake of silence?

Have you broken silence against all norms
’cause even persecution’s better than being an accomplice?

Have you ever been -jumping in deep water- accomplice
in unconditional love?

Have you ever loved someone
who didn’t deserve it but needed you?

Have you ever said – I’ll always be here when you need me
– and stood by your promise?

Have you ever broken a promise so hard and sharp
that it’d just hurt?

Have you ever been hurt for someone you care for?
Have you ever really lived?

Today I grew a year older

I’m breaking my promises by writing about something that’s not becoming part of my book. But, what the hell.

Yesterday was election day in Hungary. The most saddening and least likely result (for me!) came out: practically things stay as they are (the extreme right wing governing party reached 2 third of the votes, the left got weaker, the right got stronger).

Today has been a very unmotivated day (I’m practically never ill but today I couldn’t eat). Oh yeah, I’m never unmotivated either.

The words that can describe my mood the most are: bitter helplessness and mental hangover.

It was a great reality check: people in Hungary are not like me. I’ve known that 80% doesn’t speak English. Probably <0,001% has an English language blog. People don’t have foreign wives. People don’t live in inner Budapest. People worry about paying bills. People, people, people – and me.

I’ve been politically active recently: going to demonstrations, talking to people, creating memes, sharing articles, writing opinions, offering a ride to my grandparents, etc.

Well, we: city people, international people, English speaking people: we lost today big time in Hungary.

And this article doesn’t lead anywhere.

Minimalist it is. Happy it is not.

But you know what: I’m a little bit proud to be unhappy. Once I read a book about Nazi Germany during the war and the protagonist said: “it’s only fools who are happy in times like these”.

I am not convinced any more (at all) that personal happiness is the ultimate goal. In times like these it’s time to look into yourself and see what you can do when you are back to your enthusiastic self.

I’m not going into politics. I’m not founding a new party.

But I’m ready to make a difference. Probably through education, radically expanding the program of EU lectures in Hungary and in Europe.

Wish me luck!
Daniel, who grew a 1 year older today….

Have you ever felt you’ve said it all already?

I used to write a lot when I was younger: 14 to my early 20s: including a novel, a short(er) novel and probably over a hundred short stories and maybe a dozen poems. And hundreds of pages of diaries. It was about art, emotions, love, easing anger – and of course, self-expression.

In March 2016, however I decided to write partly to change the world with it (no, not to topple political systems and start or end civil wars) – but to express my opinion on public issues. One of my first articles (and the most read and shared) was on Muslims & terrorism. The project ended with the 100th article as planned and it took a little while to “put myself together” again and narrow down my topic.

In November the same year I’d begin on new waters: writing in English and having let a lot of topics go I’d focus on self-improvement (whatever it really is). This is when Minimalist Happiness began. It was supposed to be a 1 year long project with about an hour dedicated to it daily on average but I’m still writing it.

And I can’t say I’m running out of topics (I have over 300 article ideas saved) but I’ve run out of topics to research more in depth. I feel more fascination now with successful writers who take their time to write long form articles (Mark Manson, Wait but Why) although they seem to have their limit too (Wait but Why’s last article came out a year ago!).

I feel that I’ve said it all – because I’ve found ways to proactively participate and make a change with direct actions:
– I’m a father for almost 4 months and I raise my child with my wife
– I’ve founded a “part-time” company with a friend
– I’m trying to extend greatly an education program I’m managing
– with elections coming up in a week I’ve got way more involved than in the rest of those “4 year” blocs…

Writing is great – I’m still working on the book that aims to sum up the 16 (12?, 11?, 14?) most important things I’ve learned in life. I still believe I have thousands of pages in me – but in a relatively open society like today’s with so much to do and change and opportunities to do that: I think writing’s getting a break for a while.

Hope it’s all right with you: I’m always up for a conversation, anyways! 🙂

you just needs to fool sometimes…

“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Money. Fitness. Body. Enterprising. Marketing. Travel. Problem solving. Leaving your comfort zone. […]

Topics all self-improvement readers know too well. But the more you think, read, talk about these (or hey, other) ideas, there’s a big danger: you’ll start taking yourself dead serious. You will find yourself more valuable because of the thousands or millions your earn, because of the weights you lift, because you’ve been to over 100 countries in the world, etc.

Alone at home, in the evening with your partner or friend(s) or family: leave this all behind. [I’m not saying we are all equal or equally important, at all. Yet, measurable metrics as the above ones cause arrogance, condescension, egotism, often smugness. /Consult your doctor or pharmacist about risks and undesired side effects./]

It was just 2 months ago when I began to write a serious article (about my top 10 movies) and I couldn’t help but notice 2 out of ten were spoof comedies and a couple others were often described as comedies. I was surprised. Am I not the constantly looking, self-developing and improving, writing, organizing, managing guy?

Not only. When I certainly L-O-V-E to fool.

A culture coming from my father and mother (I’m not sure I’ve ever heard people laughing so much – and on such silly jokes as they do) and it was continued with my friends and partners. Fooling make me believe the world is a great place where there is nothing else to do for me – but to laugh and enjoy myself. I hope more and more people feel this…

I remember one particular occasion, meeting my best friend at his place at 10 pm. I really had to share with him the day’s saddening story from the same girl who was giving me saddening stories for years. But his sarcastic face (one of his memorable jokes being about the non-existent but very visual description of the diarrhea of the girl) and his body language convinced me that it just did not matter. So he started another story. And I had another one. We both had something to say all the way until the morning when I had to leave. We never went to sleep and talked the night through… …and I did not manage to tell the story (it’d needed 15-20 minutes of focused time). That night, although I can’t recall more than what I wrote here, is a top memory, an all-time high. It showed the best of a safe, pleasant, free, young, healthy world in and around me. All I needed was a friend…

“Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Humanity: a nation of babies

I’m a father of a 3+ months old baby boy, Alexander.
I’ve already spent hundreds of hours with him, less and sometimes more focused. I’ve learned a lot about him and about babies. No wonder. I expected that I’d feel this way.
But one learning seems more important than all the rest for now: I think I’m just like him.
I eat and I’m grumpy when I don’t get food.
I need a toilet.
I want my wish to come true, right away.
I don’t like to be bored. I look for stimulation.
I listen to my instincts and emotions.
I love playing.
I try to learn every day, non stop.
Clearly, we are not the same though. He struggles to fall asleep and I help him.
He needs food now and now and right now.
I can set up an account with a fake UK phone number to order one and pay from money I earned. Etc.
But after all, the differences are differences of quality. The fundamentals of our existence are one and the same.
It feels like we’re living in a modern, well-developed world. But in a couple decades this type of life shall be considered dark aged.
We, humans are essentially the same creatures we’ve been for hundreds of thousands of years: way before civilization.
How could we truly convince ourselves we ever grow up!?

My greatest moments of freedom

My best friend told me 10 years ago that the primary force in me was hunger for freedom. It’d difficult and probably misleading to try to explain what freedom means to me.

Rather, I try to give an account of my greatest moments of freedom. (You might have realized that the last articles were very personal. I have been writing a book about my own life experiences and these articles will be used for it. It’ll end relatively soon. You’re stuck with the very personal stuff for now though.)

Freedom from love I can clearly remember the moment when I first felt free. A simple walk from home on the same street I’d take every day. And yet another sunny day with my 15 year old body suddenly becoming hopeful, healthy – and as easy as a feather taken by the warm spring breeze.
All of it happened inside my head but I finally let love, suffer, depressive and suicidal thoughts levitate away. Finally, I could define myself a young, positive, conscious teen, ready for life. That walk was a true beginning of a new era.

Freedom from home: travel – travel has become a synonym for freedom. And while traveling is freedom from the everyday routine, you often choose other, limiting ideas: (company, guidebooks, highlights, tick off places / countries from some imaginary list, etc.): because really being free from all constraints is just frightening. It’s a serious moment alone with the universe. Most people would pay plenty to avoid this.
But travel still holds way more chances to experience freedom than being at home. I remember biking in Transylvania, not sticking to the group on a perfect summer day, admiring the landscape. I didn’t think of the past or the future, just immersed fully in the present. One of those moments when you exactly know that you are at the best place at the best time in the universe.
Another moment was crossing the Polish-Lithuanian border by bike, alone. Lithuania was a place back then that none of my friends have ever been (or considered going). Lithuania was very far from Hungary. And I made it there alone, by bicycle, riding for more than 10 days North. It was a beautiful sunset that I couldn’t enjoy because of masses of mosquitoes. Being one of the 3 nights out of 37 when I bothered to set up my tent, on the top of a small hill and getting down to write my diary remains one of my purest experiences in life.

Freedom from parents’ and friends’ expectations – a couple hours before moving from home, I didn’t know I’d go ahead. A month after my 18. birthday with the catalysator of an unimportant argue with my parents I’d just leave. It was a long dream coming true and the feeling of being powerless and passive never returned to my life. A similar (though rather sad than triumphant) feeling came when we broke up with my girlfriend. A similar great emotion had such effect on me that I had to hit the wall until my fist bled when a friend made me realize I didn’t have to spend more time with my classmates: because there is better company out there. Or the several. Se-ve-ral occasions of getting tipsy and drunk was another important moment of freedom, no joke.

Freedom of body – not matter what they say, humans are animals. Developed animals that think with their brain (most of the time) and listen to their instincts too. Animals, that are alive as long as their body functions: by definition. It would be unwise to say that our body does not have everything to do with our moods, thoughts, ideas, feelings: let it be hunger or freedom. And our body can give us enormous freedom. Let it be a morning exercise, running 30 kms or having your first orgasm. Don’t tell me you don’t remember it. Wasn’t that properly relieving? Wasn’t that at least a moment of complete freedom?

Freedom of together – I used to have a strict theory in which individuals were able to reach freedom while 2 people together were already regarded “society”. And I’d think: society is full of sin, murder, dirt while an individual is always right and sacred. Later I’d come to the conclusion that the basic issue (call it original sin if you wish) is in every single individual. There is not one person that can live in harmony with himself and the world. Two or three neither.
But getting over your own self can be something liberating. Freedom from loneliness in cases of company of drinking partners, a best friend, a romantic relationship and to extend your personality beyond yourself – by having children, to feel part of the universe or any other way you choose. For me, apart from being a friend, a husband, a father practical aspects like volunteering and charity (becoming free from my own earnings’ grip) have worked.


What are your greatest moments of freedom?
Let us know in a comment, on Facebook or in an email: drazsika@gmail.com

All that I’ve learned from traveling (part 4 / c) /the last one/

2014, 2017 – South East Asia: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Myanmar, Vietnam
Stepping outside the airport in Bangkok in winter, 2014 changed my view of the world more profoundly than any lecture, movie, book or person did before. It was the heat (coming from cold winter), the smells (they really are terrible), the dozens of antipathetic touts yelling into my face, the traffic (in-cre-di-ble) and everything else that unfolded the next weeks: religion, behaviour, poverty, architecture, smiles, friendliness, openness next to ridiculous and constant scams, prostitution, constant bargaining (sometimes quoted prices were 100-fold (!) of the price of a competitor!), etc.
The cultural shock was even bigger because we thought this was the one and only long trip of our lives outside of Europe. We thought we were the only ones who were able to get away this long (hehh: we were asked all the time: why only 4 weeks?!) and we wanted to make the best out of it.
All that I learned during this travel was burned into my body thanks to a tough tropical illness called amoebiasis. The tough part was over a month with various antibiotics and the complete recovery (being able to drink Hungarian pálinka and other distilled alcohol just like before) took 2 years. Laying at home utterly weak was the first time in my life that I wished to have children. Other than the sickness (and possible my instincts of reproduction kicking in) I was inspired by seeing the families in rural Cambodia that seemed to have nothing but each other. Observing them killed much of my (anyway beaten down) wish for a career per se.

Day 2: my stomach is close to 100%

Returning to the region in 4 years was surprisingly great. Rather than losing its charm we could dig deeper.

Bali surprised us as being a bite from Paradise when we managed to get away from the crowds and long, littered beaches. And the locals? You got to be tough, being the only place in a large country that’s not Muslim.

Sacred source of water & temple, Bali

Singapore felt like the Israel of South-East Asia in the good sense: a living example of the success of controlled & encouraged immigration of professionals (and tax havens, hehe).[BTW: don’t believe about crazy order, police, people not crossing red lights, etc. Much has changed since the ’80s…]

Supertree grove, Singapore

Myanmar was a sort of continuation of our earlier adventure with even more “third world stuff” and unspoiled / non-touristic moments too.

Close-to-sunset in Bagan

Vietnam, with its C-R-A-Z-Y traffic, cult of USA, rocket-fuel-filled energy, incredible nature, smiley and grateful people was yet another place I hope to return.

Hoi-An in the morning

2015 & 2016 – South America
The most surprising things of South America were:
– culture: how extremely European it was (mostly language and religion) – although farther from Europe than SE Asia it didn’t bring anything close to the cultural shock I experienced before…
– nature: how superior it was to anything I’ve ever seen.
– distances: I already began to suspect earlier but it was here that I finally realized how small Europe was (point of reference: Brazil alone is almost twice as big as the 28 countries of the European Union together…)
My favourite countries were Bolivia and Peru.

Salt Flats, Southern Bolivia

2015 – Iceland
Iceland is a super-sparsely populated place. 300 thousand people (200.000 in the capital!) in an area where 10 million live in Hungary. And it’s not very dense here either. The big learning here was that there are places that are just completely out of the whole game…
No military, no cities or towns other than Reykjavik, 80% of the country is unapproachable, a sunset lasts 5 hours while even the warmest summer days are freezing, people believe in elves and so on and so forth. Iceland seemed more of a different continent from Europe than South America. This was probably our first trip where locals played a key role: we did Couchsurfing as many times as we could and set the itinerary on the way depending on the accepted couch-requests. (I wrote an article about it here.)

On the top of a warm vulcano

 2016 & 2018 – Middle-East: Israel, Palestine, Jordan & Lebanon
I remember one of the closing scenes of the movie Body of Lies where one says, quite like an axioma: No one likes the Middle-East.
If it had to live there (apart from Israel & Beirut from what I’ve seen) it would probably be pretty terrible.
But traveling is always something different. Apart from ruins of the antiquity (e.g. the largest Roman temple in Baalbek, Lebanon), the fascinating history of the 3 monotheistic religions in Jerusalem (walking in the footsteps of Jesus? No matter that I’m atheist, count me in!), the incredibly history of modern and present-day conflicts within and across borders & meeting those people of whom you hear a lot in your TV: fascinating people.
Hatred, intolerance, passion, enthusiasm, open-mindedness and mental cages: boiling emotions on every corner. I’ll return! (one of my articles was inspired by the night we spent with the Bedouins in Southern Jordan)

Petra, Jordan

2017 – Hungary
If you’ve read this long you probably know that I’m Hungarian. I come from Szeged, the third largest place in the country with 200.000 people and live in Budapest, the capital with 1,7 / 3+ million people (city proper / metropolitan area).
I’ve experienced little from the rest of the country and when I did, I looked at the place as “It’s my country, I know it well. If something doesn’t fit, it’s an accident. I KNOW THIS COUNTRY.”
As I traveled more and more in the world I grew to realize how little I know about my home country and its people. Last years day-trips to all directions from Budapest, topped with volunteering in a Rroma segregated community, holding lectures (about EU & its opportunities for young people) in different villages, towns and cities and bike-guiding for 10 days with a group of tourists in the countryside made me realize why my country runs as it does. Enlightening moments that I hope didn’t finish last year.

Botanical Garden in my hometown that I never bothered to visit before

I finish this saga here. It’s hard to draw a line during which travels I gained a “major” or “most important” insight but I have to say I never regretted visiting to a destination or spending money on travelling. If unsure, travel quick and return to the places you fell in love with. I sure am happy that I didn’t spent more than 40 minutes in Lichtenstein but I feel a little bit more complete for having been there.

All that I’ve learned from traveling (part 4 / b)

Here comes the middle episode of the places that had the most effect on my life.

2008/09 – Milan
Living in Milan was one of the “travels” that rather affirmed my beliefs than challenged them. At age 19 I thought I was a counterculture figure and going to a “Western European” city wasn’t a very thrilling option. If the whole stay hadn’t been paid for (by my parents and my sister’s scholarship) I would have never gone for it.
Other than fun stories like begging successfully for a sandwich of an Austrian homeless and some general life experience I learned particularly little from the destination.
The bottom line of my experience was: even if 99 out of a 100 choses Milan, Italy over Szeged, Hungary, it doesn’t matter for me. I’m just different.

Milánó - Zolával, Lucával - 2009
One of those Milan nights (own pic)

2009 – Genoa
Milan itself didn’t do the trick but the “neighbourhood” did.
In late spring I set out to hitch-hike to Genoa. As I was impatient and cars didn’t stop I started to walk. And I walked for 4 days. In mild rain, sleeping by the road and in unfinished houses (once gendarme were called when I was discovered sleeping in a garage – later the older woman who called them gave me a banana).
On the fifth day, waking up on the rocks at the beach the sun was up. Walking through the city (endless kilometers!) made me understand the idea of the beauty of a city. After literature and movies I added another genre: architecture. (Okay, it was probably Italy that started my interest in paintings, too.)
The same process and fascination with Italy’s architecture, art and heritage (Roman and Renaissance mainly) was continued as I visited Siena, Florence, later Sicily, Lecce, Rome followed by dozens of places unknown villages and cities of the North during the next years.

stop - Genova - oda
Leaving for hitchhiking to Genoa (own pic)

2009 – Albania
During the summer of 2009 we set out with my best friend then, Szilárd for a bicycle trip to Albania through Bosnia (and Kosovo at the end). By this time it was the biggest cultural shock in my life. I didn’t care much about the thousands of car washing businesses, the (literally) over hundred thousands bunkers, the uncovered sewers on the streets or  the fact that we entered a (mainly secular) Muslim country. But I desperately missed something. Whether it was the thousands of products missing from the shelves or some form of critical thinking or some remnant of (imaginary) times when the area had leading culture or I don’t know but this was the first time I liked and missed European Christian culture. Because Albania had none of it.

Arrival back, on day 27 (own pic)

2009/10 – Calabria
While Italy is regarded “West” by Hungarians and the west is the best it became obvious for me that people in Calabria lived way worse than people in Hungary do. Not only the extreme unemployment, the low salaries but the slow pace, disappointment, lack of enthusiasm and people’s “mental cage” too.
Keeping to my values meant few friendships (and plenty of conflicts) both with locals and foreign students. But it meant keeping one very important relationship. Getting together with my future wife & mother of my son.
Calabria mainly taught me that one has to stay different, no matter the price. Not seeing old people for half a year, often partying so long that I wouldn’t see the sun for days and not conforming to plenty of standards made me proud – and happy to leave.
We haven’t returned since.

One of the farewell parties (own pic)

“Western Europe” – 2011: Southern France, Barcelona, 2012: London, 2014: Amsterdam to Paris 2015: Scandinavia
My counterculture views were eventually challenged by getting to places which were pleasant, beautiful, open and people just seemed happy.
If I had to leave Hungary and had to choose the destination right now I’d choose Cannes or Nimes or Marseille or something around there in Southern France.

A magical sunset in Cannes (own pic)

2012 – Istanbul
As far as I can remember Istanbul was the first and maybe the only place so far that inspired me to write a short story. By its sheer size, diversity, location on 2 continents and its place as a regional and historical cultural center. (Note that I’ve mostly visited counterculture / periferic destinations before.)

Doctor Fish (own pic)

Former Soviet Union – 2007, 2013, 2014, 2017 – Moldova, Transnistria, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia
I left Europe first time when we visited Tunisia and Morocco and well, Istanbul: but leaving Western culture behind -it felt for me- happened the first time in the backyard of Russia where one looks like an idiot if doesn’t speak Russian (off all languages!). It was amazing to see a country several times more poor and difficult than Hungary: Ukraine and visit countries that don’t exist in the minds of most people: Moldova and a country that doesn’t even exist on paper (much more in reality, though): Transnistria. Here’s when I learned that Western media lies too – or at least gives you a completely wrong picture (Belarus) and learned that Hungary is not so special by being small and having a language that no one speaks. Georgia and Armenia even came with alphabets that no one else can read…

x_Souvenirs from Transnistria
Transnistrian souvenirs (2 euro world-class brandy and 15 cent cigarettes)

To be continued soon…

All that I’ve learned from traveling (part 4 / a)

I wanted to use the word “inspiring” – but all I want to write about are places that showed me a really new face of the world. This often meant being inspired: I’d write poems or short stories about a destination. And often it meant being extinguished and losing ideals I had before.

I come from Szeged, Hungary, a border and student town of 200.000 from a small, middle-class, intellectual family.

2004 – Transylvania in summer by bike
It was just the summer when I learned to appreciate nature. And after leaving the completely flat plains and the city behind, boy, was there something to appreciate!?

Békás-szoros (countrytours)

2007 – Alone in the nature (Hungarian countryside)
Have you ever been outside, alone at night, in a tent? Blindly trusting those few people that saw you to let you sleep in peace?
A leap of faith that killed plenty of fear in me. While during this preparing travel (of 1000 km) I usually slept in my tent, a month later on my 37 day journey I used the tent 3-4 times, only in rain / mosquito land: otherwise falling asleep in my sleeping bag looking at the stars was just enough comfort.

This is Romania and I’m with friends but I think you get the idea…

2007 – Any village (Poland, Węgierka)
People want to see the must-see things. But is it really life-changing the see the Eiffel-tower or the Big Ben? Visiting a place where no tourist ever stopped before, probably, is a way easier task: I bet there’s a place like this even in the 30 km radius of where you live. I chose a small road to cross a small village called Węgierka in Poland because of it’s name (meaning Hungarian girl, more-or-less) and when 4 elementary school age girls started to wave at me I turned back. Two of them wanted to run away but they stayed at the end and with very limited English we talked some words and they taught me some basic Polish words (left, right, straight ahead). As good as it gets…
Later, we had a very memorable stay in Imyanin, Belarus where the road ended and some agriculture students let us stay at their place for a couple euros that were spent on vodka and drunk promptly.
As one of my best friends put it: “nice to see whatever eiffel tower, taj mahal and shit, but what value does give it to me? almost zero. be able to say say/tick off that i saw this or that piece of stone, inscribed in whatever list? seeing a structure that i’ve seen already in pictures or movies 100 times? having the feeling of being one of millions of other idiots who gathered there to take a picture of that structure, of which there are already billion photos anyway? 😀 everything, completely everything that forms the experience around these places is just copy-paste of any other attractions anywhere else – food, people, their behavior towards you etc

Imyanin (or whatever), Belarus (or whereever)

2008 – Being the victim
In Chitila, just outside of Bucharest we were robbed: my friend’s bag was taken by force and when we tried to get it back my friend was stopped and “searched” again while I was hit with a big stone by a small kid.
We got the police (never saw policemen being afraid in their own police station before, constantly) and they were as powerless as we were.

(romanianhistoryandculture) – The incident didn’t make me racist: I’m part of & donor for a volunteer-based educational organisation for mostly Rroma children in deep poverty

2008 – The middle of the night at the middle of nowhere
While biking alone in a forgotten small road in Bulgaria, looking up to the sky I realized how small and unimportant I was. Never happened before and rarely after.


Part 4 / b, is coming soon 🙂

All that I’ve learned from traveling (part 3)

Extra Hungariam non est vitasi est vitanon est ita – there is no life outside of Hungary: if there is, it’s not like it.

This is a popular Hungarian saying. When it was first written down in 1660 it was probably not very smart. In 2018, however, it is bordering complete idiocracy.

/In the first part of this so-far trilogy I wrote about my ultimate learning from traveling. The second part is about my biggest cultural shocks and big learnings about the world & traveling./

Now it’s the 3rd part and here comes a short summary of my most meaningful personal interactions in connection with traveling.

2002, 2004: Participating on 2 week long bicycle trips organized by my chess teacher. Being among several other students of the same age (I was 13-15) I’ve learned how lonely one can be – and that conforming to the others’ behaviour, ideas and values are definitely not a must. I’ve learned too that I wasn’t not more valuable than others: I shouldn’t take more out from the common than how much I add.

2007: Biking alone in Hungary & then in Central Europe for a couple weeks taught me the big lesson of people: they do not care about me. If they do, they usually help (98/100) and very rarely harm me (2/100). But it’s not because of my actions but because of their set of values and situation. [I couldn’t judge the -probably drunk, young- Poles that stole my phone in the center of Lublin where I slept. Maybe I’d have done the same. Okay, I wouldn’t have. But still. It didn’t (and doesn’t) seem evil.]
I learned that one can find a best friend or a girlfriend even for an hour or half a day and can enter adventures that stay in his mind for a lifetime. I often recall a time when a guy asked me where I was going to sleep while offering me tea and sandwich and when I mentioned “by the road”, he called up his friends to help (he spoke Polish, I spoke German so it was more misunderstanding than communication). His friends happened to be policemen, taking me and my bike in their car off the main road unexpectedly. I thought they’d beat me or rape or kill me but I was taken to a big house where I slept at the end next to a guy in his 60s (who’d mysteriously greet me in the middle night in Hungarian (of all languages!), asking “Sör az van?” / Do you have a beer?). I went to sleep thinking I was in a police station and it took a while (and a free müsli) to find out that I slept in a senior’s home. Awkward.

2008-2011: biking for 2 weeks with my 2 best friends made us get to know each other well. At our destination (halfway), we’d get into an argue and separate. The friendship deteriorated with the one we left behind and the other guy became a real best friend. I learned as well that in time of danger you DO get to know the others. It was probably the most shocking travel experience when a group of gypsy kids took my friend’s bag on the main road in Chitila, outside of Bucharest, Romania. When we started to follow them we’d be attacked, a bit. (A small child found enough strength to throw a big stone on my back that’d hurt for days). Two of us tried to chase the lost bag. The third guy rode the other way.
Bike trips followed the next years and I’d get to know others too. It was twice that a girl joined the trip. None of them ever wanted to do another bike trip.

2009: Living in Milan, Italy did change a lot of perceptions. Living with my sister, only the two of us changed our perception of each other. As well as I found a Hungarian friend with whom we’ve been in touch, on and off, slowly but steadily.

Then Cosenza, Italy, on my Erasmus, bonds that seemed strong at first sight quickly disappeared. I’m in touch with one local, Calabrian person: we’d have a short conversation sometimes & this is where probably the most important voluntary human relation of my life began: I met my future Polish wife there.

2010: Moving to Poland strengthened the relation with her but I’d have little contact with others from Poznan by today. (One would have to presume that maybe it’s not the places’ fault that I didn’t build lasting relations. Hehe.)

2011-2018: Work & travel. Being a tour leader on river cruise ships has been one of the most interesting way to get to know people. I was among those who considered the working days (90 or 130 a year) part of my private life. Even though I didn’t get to decide with which crew on which ship with which colleagues and passengers I’d spend my time. Most of my current friendships come from cruise ships: imagine 11 – 14 days when you see your colleagues 8-16 hours a day and have to cooperate very-very closely while you sleep in single cabins – but just a couple inches from each other. A great recipe for hate – or lasting friendships. I never hated long. As a cruise ended & the anger quickly (okay, sometimes slowly) disappeared. Friendships often last, on the other hand.

2015-2018: We are getting farther from travel and closer to work: I work as a local guide in Budapest and through this colleagues and travelers somewhat connected to travelling have become new friends and acquaintances. I’ve recently organized an event in Hungarian language and noticed that about half of my friends on FB are not Hungarian speakers so I couldn’t invite them. It somehow felt very good.

2009-2018: These past 8 years I’ve mostly traveled with my wife. We’ve met people on travels with whom we still meet or at least keep in touch. They (you!) opened my mind in ways I could have never managed at home.

So, the bottom line: I’ve met my wife and most of my best friends (let them be Hungarian or no) through traveling / travel business. With those old friends who count we’d travel together, sometimes. Even if someone managed to convince me that traveling is not worth it (environment, money, mass tourism, etc.) it couldn’t last traveling directly or indirectly but gave the richest part to my life: the best of human relations…

After all, it’s people who matter, no?

And if you travel to see the best pieces of architecture, the best pieces of art, if you travel to get a business deal done or move to get the best job available, wouldn’t you travel to have a chance to meet the best people?!