Hello Reader! My name is Szilvia, I was born, raised and educated in Hungary, moved to the United States in 1997.  I am addicted to traveling and never hope to recover.  Imagine it like a disease that runs through your veins when the moments of happiness burn into your memory. Try it once and you will never go back.  Jokes aside, it all started with a trip to Amsterdam at the age of 16.  At that time I could only afford to take a bus and sleep in a hostel but I’m a working adult now, can buy an airplane ticket and travel further while staying in a hotel, but hey, I’m still adventurous! They say traveling makes you richer which I found to be true. I don’t care where I go but when I come back I’ll be “richer” and hope to be a “millionaire” one day!

I believe I was born with a map in my hand but in addition to a passion to travel I was a discovered “talent” at the age of 6 who got admitted to the Budapest Ballet Academy. We lived on the countryside of Hungary in the famous Tokaj region near Slovakia; my family owned a vineyard about 2 hours from the capital.  My parents did not think sending a 6 year old girl away was a good idea but they enrolled me in dance classes nearby.   I continued dancing as long as I know it and became a member of a dance company, called Athellana Dance Theater. I was 16 years old when we got invited to Antwerp, Holland to perform Requiem by Mozart, which was the first time I went abroad.

The director found sponsors to rent a long distance bus with a driver, our parents paid for the costumes and the Holland theater took care of the stage. We packed a sleeping bag and some food for the long journey and got on the bus.  The first thing I noticed was the windmills and fields of colorful tulips! If I could have put my face out the window, like a dog, I would have! After performances I went sightseeing to discover the city and signed up for activities to visit the neighboring towns on the weekend. I walked through the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which not many kids can tell!  That was the first time I got infested with this disease, called traveling. Upon returning I took summer jobs between semesters to be able to visit other countries and the drive to discover kept on growing.

My parents did not have the opportunity to travel internationally simply because it was not ideal during socialism . There were two kinds of travel documents available, the red passport to communist countries, so-called Eastern Block and the blue passport to capitalist (western) countries, which was almost impossible to get. At that time if anybody got caught traveling with large suitcases on the west, was accused of dissidence and got sentenced to jail. Hungarian citizens did not prefer to vacation in communist countries because they were economically worse than Hungary so people preferred to not travel outside of the country. My generation was the first generation holding a universal passport and had the possibility to leave Hungary without getting arrested.