I’m pleased to introduce fellow traveler, fellow Europhile, and fellow native of Vancouver: Adelina Wong. She’s lived and worked in Budapest, Hungary, where a big part of her belongs, mirroring my own feelings towards Germany. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have interviewed her for Fotoeins Fotopress.
What circumstances prompted your move to live and work in Budapest/Hungary?
AW: “I had always wanted to experience what it was like to live abroad. I had a small taste of it when I studied abroad in the Netherlands, but that was only 4 months. During university, I was part of an organization called AIESEC which facilitates an exchange program for university students and recent graduates. Eventually it was through AIESEC that I found my placement in Budapest. I didn’t deliberately pick Hungary as I was open to opportunities anywhere, but I found a great job and the rest just fell into place.”
What were the most memorable aspects of living in Budapest/Hungary?
AW: “Easily, the most memorable aspects were the people that I met that made the whole experience so rewarding and memorable. I made some great friends from all around the world who I still keep in contact with today. I also met a couple of really great Hungarians as well who I always look forward to seeing when I visit. Most importantly, I met my boyfriend there.
I also enjoyed aspects of the culture. North America is so driven by capitalism and the need for more and more that it was a refreshing change to be some place where it’s not as prevalent. I’ve been told that this is starting to change in Hungary, but comparatively it’s nothing. Work-life balance was also good. It was common for people to go out for a drink or two after work – especially in the summers when the patios are open and the days are long and hot. I’m a big food person and I love how the fad of organic food, farm to table, nose to tail cooking is just a part of everyday life. Going to the market or store everyday to pick out some fresh veggies for dinner was normal. Most things were organic by default, and the seasons dictated what fresh foods were available on shelves. Delicious in the summers, harder to handle in the winter, but definitely memorable.”
For someone visiting Budapest/Hungary for the 1st time, what would you recommend they see & experience for something uniquely Budapest/Hungarian?
AW: “I’m a firm believer that food is a great way of experiencing a new culture. I would suggest a wander through a market, not the famous central market that most tourists visit, but rather one where mostly locals shop. The market at Lehel ter is a great one (and easy to get to on the blue metro line). Barely anyone speaks English so be prepared to do a lot of pointing. You’ll get to see what’s in season, interesting breads and desserts, and people watch as they pick out what’s for dinner. There are only a few hot food stands at this particular market, but they’re worth checking out for a quick bite; lángos, deep fried dough with sour cream and cheese on top, is a must!
A taste of palinka is also a must. Hungarians swear by this fruit brandy. The older generation uses it as an aperitif and believes in its healing powers for any ailment. There are palinka bars throughout the city where you can sip on different fruit flavours from plum to cherry.
AW: Another thing unique to Budapest are the ruin bars, also called kerts or garden bars, around the city. The courtyards and insides of old derelict buildings are transformed and repurposed as bars and gathering places. Originally, they were decorated with mismatched furniture found in the building, but many ruin bars are now designed intentionally to look old and random. Most visitors head to Szimpla which was the first and most famous ruin bar, but there are plenty of others worth checking out, including Kuplung, Ellato Kert, and Fogashaz.”
What is the ONE thing you miss most about Budapest/Hungary (that you can’t get anywhere else)?
AW: “My boyfriend! Cheeky (but truthful!) answer, I know. Other than him, I miss the energy of the city, especially during the summer. Yes, I complained a lot about the heat; 35+ degrees Celsius on average for months at a time without air conditioning is rather painful. But I also loved being able to wander around at 10pm in just shorts and a t-shirt. It was great to see people out enjoying each others company, relaxing in parks, chatting at bars, or splashing around in local pools.”
If you could return to live in Europe (not Budapest/Hungary), where would you go and why?
AW: “I like cities. There is nothing more I love more than the hustle and bustle of people. Of all the places I’ve traveled in Europe, the two places where I could see myself living (other than Budapest, of course) is London and Berlin. Both cities are steeped in history and have unique vibes that I like. I felt like I was at home even though I was a visitor. They’re different in their own ways, but I feel a pull towards both. I would love to live in either city for awhile and discover all their little secrets.”
The photos above were made and kindly provided by Adelina Wong. For more things Budapest, Hungary, and all around Europe, check out her website: packmeto.com. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5d0.