In the WittyLeaks series, Diplomacy&Trade regularly publishes the personal accounts of ambassadors and other diplomatic mission leaders accredited to Budapest.
As I stepped into the role of the Ambassador of Egypt to Hungary, little did I know that this opportunity would lead me on a remarkable journey of discovery, cultural immersion, and friendship. From the moment I arrived in Budapest in September 2021, I was captivated by the country's rich history, architectural beauty, and warm reception from the Hungarian officials and the diplomatic community. Allow me to take you on a visual and narrative journey as I recount the unforgettable moments of my tenure as ambassador.
Budapest: a city of beauty and life
My first glimpse of Budapest left me awestruck. The city's magnificent architecture, spanning from historic landmarks to contemporary structures, created an enchanting atmosphere that seemed to whisper tales of a glorious past. The iconic Parliament building, with its neo-Gothic splendor, and the majestic Chain Bridge, elegantly stretching across the Danube River, left an indelible mark on my soul. Yet, it was the vibrant energy and bustling streets that truly brought Budapest to life, making it a city brimming with vitality.
Cultural richness and gastronomic delights
Hungary's cultural wealth revealed itself in myriad forms. Budapest, the cultural hub of the country, offered a treasure trove of museums that showcased art, history, and scientific discoveries. Each visit deepened my understanding of Hungary's rich heritage and its invaluable contributions to the world. But it was not just the museums that captured my attention; Hungary's culinary landscape was a revelation. Every dining experience became a journey of flavors and cultural exploration, with diverse restaurants offering cuisines from around the globe.
As a devoted pet lover, I was delighted to discover Hungary's deep affection for animals, particularly dogs. The warmth and acceptance extended to my own two beautiful dogs, Lily and Leo, was heartwarming. Hungary's pet-friendly policies and well-developed infrastructure ensured that my dogs were just as comfortable as I was. From numerous parks to dedicated dog-friendly spaces, Hungary provided ample opportunities for exercise, socialization, and an inclusive pet culture that made me feel right at home.
The diplomatic community
The diplomatic community in Budapest welcomed my wife, Ingy, and me with open arms, enveloping us in a tapestry of warmth and camaraderie. The genuine bonds formed among diplomats created an atmosphere of cooperation and friendship that transcended borders. Ingy found a sense of belonging among the group of spouses of diplomats, engaging in various activities and meetings. Through these connections, we fostered cultural exchange and understanding, strengthening the ties between Egypt and Hungary. Ingy and myself were also lucky that our arrival to Hungary was just after the resumption of the diplomatic activities after almost two years of freezing due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Exploring Hungary's cities
Hungary's cities, each with its own distinct charm, beckoned me to delve deeper into the country's diverse landscapes and regional identities. From the historical grandeur of Eger, known for its medieval castle and fine wines, to the picturesque streets of Pécs, boasting a blend of Ottoman and Roman influences, every city had a captivating story to unravel. By immersing myself in these regional experiences, I gained a profound appreciation for Hungary's cultural tapestry.
Natural beauty and recreational delights
Beyond the urban bustle, Hungary's natural beauty revealed itself in tranquil parks and captivating hiking trails. Escaping to the serenity of nature became a cherished respite during my tenure. Summer visits to the serene Lake Balaton and Lake Lupa provided moments of relaxation and rejuvenation, reminding me of the intrinsic connection between humans and the natural world.
Thermal Baths are among the ‘must do’ things in Hungary, these baths are available all over the place either in Budapest, Hévíz or other Hungarian cities and towns.
Finally, I want to point out that the bilateral relations between Egypt and Hungary have reached the strategic partnership level. This relationship is further strengthened through the recent exchange of visits between officials. The Egyptian president's visit to Hungary in October 2021 and the Hungarian prime minister's visit to Egypt in February 2023 highlighted the growing cooperation and mutual respect between the two nations. The economic ties between Egypt and Hungary flourished, symbolized by the contract to manufacture and export 1,350 railway wagons to Egypt. Additionally, Hungary provides Egypt annually with a number of scholarships for Egyptian undergraduate and postgraduate students.
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