Exploring The World Beyond Travel

What makes a traveller? I don’t think the answer is that simple as ‘travelling’. Because I am a traveller even though I’m currently not travelling. By the way, travelling is not enough. I think it’s the open eyes and the eagerness to explore the world what makes a traveller. But the good thing is that it’s also possible if you’re not on the road. Let me show you our favorite ways to explore this complicated and amazing world beyond travel.

Cowell Ranch Beach, California

Since I’m Hungarian and it’s Hungarian history and culture that I know the best, I collected some further Hungarian inspiration in some of the topics. We are also eager to read yours whatever country and culture you are coming from – please share them in the comments!

Reading books

Reading a great novel is a unique kind of journey itself, anyway. It’s a journey where our fantasy is the only limit. It takes us to a different time and place. It gives insight into the everyday life and feelings of people we could never meet in reality. We got to know the history, traditions and legends of different places through engaging stories.

Explore the world beyond travel: books

Of course, fiction writing is what is says: fiction. But most of the great novels are so much more than their stories and characters. They are also a portrait of their age. A lot of them highlights social issues or broke taboos. Just think of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables or Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

I’ve read a lot of European classics like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. Then Selma Lagerlöf or Gabriel García Márquez lately. And now my plan is to get to know some Asian authors. And I’ve just started the book “I Am Malala”. Visiting a country that I already somewhat know from books just feels different. Actually, books can even inspire those visits.

So what are the novels I’d recommend for an insight into Hungary? I only tell the titles for now because I’m already writing a more detailed post about them and it’s coming soon! Until then here they are:

  • Magda Szabó: Abigail
  • Magda Szabó: The Door
  • Imre Kertész: Fatelessness
  • Margit Kaffka: Colours and Years
  • Sándor Márai: Memoir of Hungary 1944-1948
  • István Örkény: One Minute Stories
  • Vilmos Kondor: Budapest Noir
  • Géza Gárdonyi: Eclipse of the Crescent Moon

Watching movies

I feel similar about good movies as about good books. However, there’s a huge difference here. While most of the books we’ve read are written by European authors, most of the movies we’ve watched are American. They are probably the main reason why living in California felt a bit like a movie for us. The beaches of LA felt familiar even though we’ve visited them for the first time. All the stereotypes we recognized from the movies gave us a tiny “wow”.

But the non-American movies we’ve watched were maybe even more memorable. Because they are so different. And they are about a different world. Like Black Cat, White Cat (Crna mačka) directed by Emir Kusturica. Or Downfall (Der Untergang), a drama about the final ten days of Adolf Hitler’s rule. Or Amélie, the French romantic comedy with Audrey Tautou. Actually, one of my favorite movies in the world is French, too: The Intouchables.

Though I’m far from being an expert in the field of Hungarian movies but there are two that I think are typically very Hungarian and I also like them very much:

  • The Witness (A Tanú, 1969): a true cult classic. It’s a satire about the darkest days of Soviet rule. It was banned in Hungary for 10 years but then it became one of the most well-known and popular Hungarian movies ever.
  • Children of Glory (Szabadság, Szerelem, 2006): story of a star athlete and his love, a young student. Story of the Hungarian water polo team winning over Russia as the Hungarian Uprising is crushed by Soviet tanks. This film commemorates the Revolution of 1956, one of the most important events in the modern history of Hungary.

Trying out recipes of different cuisines

Explore the world beyond travel: international cuisine

We love cooking and baking. Actually, we enjoy trying out recipes of different cuisines more than just sit in a restaurant and order. Beyond the (hopefully) good food, we also like that there are old stories and traditions to be explored in these special recipes.

If you feel the inspiration to grab the spoon and the pan, here are our favorite Hungarian recipes to try:

  • Curd Cheese Dumplings (Túrógombóc in Hungarian)
  • Palacsinta, the “Hungarian Crepes”
  • Sour Cherry Soup (Meggyleves in Hungarian)
  • Stuffed Peppers (Töltött paprika in Hungarian)
  • Cheese Pogácsa, a traditional salty snack
  • Hungarian Floating Islands / Madártej – it can be mirror-translated as “Bird’s Milk”, though it has nothing to do with birds, it’s a delicious milky dessert

Learning foreign languages

In how many languages can you say “thank you”? We like recalling all those short phrases we picked up on our travels. Though sometimes we do quite a poor job, we always try to memorize some simple phrases in the language of the country we visit. It’s a nice and polite gesture for one, and it’s also fun!

But learning foreign languages is a part of our everyday life at home, too. Improving our English is a never-ending task, for one. 😀 But I’ve also enthusiastically started learning Spanish on my own recently. Because it’s just a beautiful language, isn’t it? Duolingo app is a fun way to start and pick up some simple words and phrases.

Highlands, Iceland

Getting to know the people around you

Meeting people is an exciting part of travel experiences. But actually, those people are also there when we aren’t travelling. Okay, not the exact same people, but all the different kind of interesting, friendly, inspiring or strange people. Then there are colleagues and neighbours from different countries and cultures. Not to mention tourists seeking for connection with locals – hey, that’s who we are!

Meeting new people can be a delightful and enriching experience – no matter where you are.

Are you a traveller? How do you explore the world?


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By Beata Urmos

Bea is the co-founder of Our Wanders. She’s the writer and the trip organizer, and she’d love to help you plan your own amazing trips! She likes hiking, good novels and chocolate, as well. Her motto is: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John A. Shedd)

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