It’s a beautiful summer morning – warm, but between a patchwork of clouds and the elevation of the Kőszeg Mountains, the temperature is pleasant. As I wind my way through birch and pine trees and among white and pink foxglove flowers, I relax into the stillness of the forest.
Standing there, it is hard to believe only a few hours earlier, I was in the hustle and bustle of Budapest. This is the Hungary that many visitors to the country will never see.
More to see than Budapest
Understandably, most Americans who travel to this land will spend the majority of their time in the nation’s capital, and for good reason. Budapest is one of the great cities of the world. The breathtaking architecture of Parliament and Andrássy út, the world class museums, the hundreds of years of history – Budapest has enough to keep a tourist satisfied.
Still, Budapest is just one part of Hungary. And I am not a tourist in this country. I have been here for two years as an American diplomat, and I want to get a full view; not just Budapest, but Pécs, Debrecen, Szeged, Tokaj, Eger, and other places. There is so much beauty in this country, and I am doing my best to see it, one stretch of the Blue Trail at a time.
The National Blue Trail, or Országos Kéktúra in Hungarian, snakes itself from the lookout tower of Írottkő on the Austrian border to the little village Hollóháza in northeast Hungary on the Slovakian border. All told, the Blue Trail stretches 1,168 kilometers from start to end. I would love to explore as many sections of the trail as possible while I'm here in Hungary.
An experienced hiker
I’m not new to hiking. Much like Europe, America has a rich hiking and camping tradition. The National Park System in the United States is famous throughout the world. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “There is nothing so American as our national parks.” The U.S. counterparts to the Blue Trail of Hungary – the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and several other iconic hikes in America – attract millions of visitors every year, and I have been privileged to hike in many of our most beautiful parks: Yellowstone, Sequoia, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, the Grand Canyon.
Just as Hungary is not only Budapest, the United States is not a single place, like New York City or Chicago. I encourage every Hungarian I meet who wants to travel to the United States to broaden their visit as much as time and money will allow, because there is so much to the American experience. See the great American cities, but also get out to the smaller towns of the Midwest. Visit the rural heartlands. Explore the natural beauty of our great country. There is nothing like doing that with a pair of sturdy hiking shoes, a hat for shade, a sense of adventure, and an openness to talking to the people you meet.
Hiking the Blue Trail
In my time hiking the Blue Trail, I’ve been fortunate both to experience the natural beauty of Hungary and to meet interesting Hungarians along the way. My position as Chargé d’Affaires at the embassy provides me with the opportunity to get to know many Hungarians, not only those working in the government, but people from companies, NGOs, the arts, and, of course, the talented group of Hungarians who work within the embassy.
Still, there is something different about coming across a fellow hiker on the trail. These encounters can be brief, or they can linger as people take a break for some water and a snack. From the very beginning, though, you have a shared connection. You have the love of outdoors, the joy of the hike, the understanding that the natural world is something that connects us all.
A natural encounter
On one of my recent hikes, my daughter and I found ourselves in a conversation with a pre-school teacher from Győr as the three of us looked for one of the stations with the stamps to mark progress on the trail. She told us about her love of teaching, the energy of her young students, and the challenges she and her community faced during the pandemic. Would the two of us have ever crossed paths if we hadn’t both been hiking the Blue Trail that day? Maybe. Perhaps I would have met her at an embassy function or had the opportunity to visit her school. Would the exchange have been the same though, in a classroom in Győr, rather than in the square in Kőszeg at the end of a long day of hiking? I don’t think so.
Diplomacy in nature
It is for these brief encounters just as much as the natural beauty of the trail that I do these hikes. I can select a stretch of the Blue Trail, be there after only an hour or two’s worth of travel, breathe in deep the clean air, and let the accumulated stress of the city go. I can hike, walking at whatever pace I choose, and pausing to take photos or simply enjoy my surroundings.
And, if I’m lucky, I’ll come across other hikers out on the trail. Maybe they’ll be Hungarian. Maybe they’ll be tourists from another country out to enjoy Hungary’s natural treasure. We’ll share a few words, and I will learn more about them and their world, and, in return, I will provide a small glimpse into the country I have come to Hungary to represent.
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Top 5 Articles
- Sharing Business Experience December 10, 2022
- Hungarian Inflation Rate - the Highest in Europe December 16, 2022
- Another Korean Battery Supplier Appears in Hungary November 17, 2022
- In Strategic Partnership with the Client January 2, 2023
- Mobility is Electric for ŠKODA December 6, 2022
Articles by Date
- ► 2023 (317)
- ► 2022 (1249)
- ► 2021 (941)
- ► 2020 (899)
- ► 2019 (237)
- ► 2018 (161)
- ► 2017 (310)
- ► 2016 (279)
- ► 2015 (324)
- ► 2014 (229)
- ► 2013 (233)
- ► 2012 (250)
- ► 2011 (303)
- ► 2010 (167)
- ► 2009 (43)
- ► 2008 (3)
No comment yet. Be the first!