While we are all doing our best to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, TCS is committed to keep your wanderlust alive. With this new interview series we are hoping to reignite your travel imagination and perhaps even give you some interesting ideas for post-Covid adventures.
Zo is a part-time postgraduate student at Cambridge University, who juggles full-time work and studies. We conducted this interview online over a cup of coffee on a Saturday afternoon.
AK: Which country (or city) made you fall in love with traveling, Zo?
Zo: When I was ten, my family participated in an exchange. We hosted Russian schoolchildren in my home town in Hungary and when I turned eleven, several children and I visited in return. We landed in Moscow and we took a walk. We were just kids, so instead of noticing the architecture, our eyes were glued to the ice cream! We couldn’t believe it – ice cream in winter! We all rushed to buy some. It was such an adventure that we didn’t care about getting sore throats in the least. This moment itself was enough to make many of us fall in love with traveling forever. I was so impressionable that I still clearly remember tens of small things. I also bought a huge doll from a market in Moscow – about sixty or seventy centimetres tall. I still have it. I remember I felt really independent buying a doll by myself and I couldn’t wait to show it off to my parents.
AK: What is your favourite place in Hungary?
Zo: The thermal springs, especially in winter. I love watching the steam rise from the warm brightly lit surface,up towards the dark winter sky.
AK: City or countryside?
Zo: Depends on my mood. Sometimes I’d like to be in nature. Other times I’d rather be in the city, because I can go out and see friends whenever I like. But when I’m in the countryside, I can see myself. In nature you pay attention to myriad small things which you wouldn’t notice otherwise – a bug, a flower, a leaf… while in the city you see mainly the bigger scale. For example, my flat overlooks a building site. Only recently did I notice that there are windows there now. You just see in a different scale.
AK: What’s your best travel hack or tip?
Zo: At some point I realised that if I roll my clothes, they take up less space and don’t crease. But then it turned out the whole internet knew that already!
AK: If you could travel anywhere (in a perfect world) where would you go? Why?
Zo: When I was little, I used to really want to visit the Pyramids of Giza. Now I’d just go for a walk by the sea. If I could fly, I’d fly over Germany, because I remember how beautifully ordered everything looked from the plane. A yellow block, a purple block… a green one. Each with very clear contours. From above, it’s like a painting rather than a country. I’d also go to Prague just to walk its streets again for the first time.
AK: What’s the most unusual mode of transportation you’ve used?
Zo: I once got on a donkey cart to go to a flea market. On a good day it takes fifteen minutes by car from one town to the other, but by cart it seemed to take an eternity. I even took a nap and dreamt of something. I guess that was pretty normal if you consider that the horsepower of a donkey is less than one. Well, we still made it. Another time I hitchhiked a tractor and it felt just as slow!
AK: Tell me about a time you got lost.
Zo: My friends and I decided to go to Germany on a very tight budget, starting from Budapest and going via Prague. We slept on the train every single one of five nights. My home town has only one station, so when we left our luggage at the station in Prague, we didn’t think we’d have to remember which one. So when we were supposed to go back for the night train, we had no idea where we’d have to go. At this point we made a financial sacrifice and turned on our mobile data. Thank God for Google Maps!
AK: Favourite type of architecture?
Zo: Vernacular architecture. I am in awe of the patience and stubbornness which goes into making a house, a temple or anything which belongs to a place and is made by materials sourced there. I admire the generations of knowledge which have gone into making a house which belongs. Even if it is a small brick house with only two rooms and a porch.
AK: Anything else you would like to share?
Zo: Just a thought. I’ve always wondered how an imaginary line we draw on paper can make people so different… But still, anywhere you go, you walk, walk, walk, and then… all of a sudden, you see someone just like you. Be it in appearance or behaviour. That’s when I think that people have no idea who we actually are and where our individual genes exactly come from; from what specific mixture. But you can still sense when someone is like you. Even when they are outwardly very different. And you can always find common language with this person. That’s why I like uni. It brings a lot of the world to you.