Let’s interview the travel agent and traveler Attila Berenyi and learn about his fascinating journeys. Attila is the author of the adventure project The Travel Scientists. Back in 1994 in Amritsar – India, he was chosen from a massive crowd to be one to carry the holy book of the Sikh back to its resting place inside the Golden Temple.
|Full name||Attila Berenyi|
|Place of birth||Debrecen, Hungary|
|Year of birth||1970|
|Occupation||Currently, I’m in the hospitality business, managing short term rental places in Budapest. Also, my friend and I have a small adventure travel company so I join one of our exciting road trips whenever I have a chance.|
|Visited countries count||62. But honestly, I’m not the counting type (actually I’ve never counted before you asked me). That reminds me I need a second life to get to all the places I want to see!|
|Continent count||Most of my travels were on 3 continents, so Americas and Down Under will come later.|
|Favorite way to travel||Everything that moves! If I really need to choose just one: that would be a car (2WD or 4WD depending on where I go), that gives me the highest flexibility and independence and that’s one of the most important things when you want to explore especially off the beaten track.|
|Favorite food||Meat with meat!|
|Favorite color||Ummm… it depends on the color of what, but probably blue.|
|Favorite band||Hard to say, hm…. let’s say Supertramp.|
|Favorite book||Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote.|
|Live to travel or travel to live?||In a way, both…. and that’s no coincidence. Nowadays, more of living to travel unfortunately but that will change I hope.|
|Fell in love with someone on the road?||Yes|
|Fluently spoken languages||Hungarian and English. My mediocre Russian and un poco español helps me a lot on my trips.|
|Favorite hotel||Irente Cliff View Lodge in Lushoto, Tanzania. I don’t really stay in hotels, and if I do I don’t choose by brand. However, an amazing experience recently was the Irente Cliff View Lodge. Breathtaking views. Fantastic place to stay!|
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Interview with Attila Berenyi
What is your relation with traveling? What do you want to find or what are you searching for while visiting other countries?
Traveling must be in my DNA. My parents dragged me with them from an early age, wherever they traveled, although back in the 1970s and ’80s in Hungary, we didn’t have endless options being part of the Eastern Bloc. However, that never stopped them, so we discovered the Balkans and most of Eastern Europe, and I’m sure I have been in more museums and churches than any other boys my age.
I certainly hated that back then because amusement parks and ice cream parlors were a lot more fun. Still, soon as I grew up, I got more interested and realized that I did have an affection for history and different cultures, so when the time came, I was off to start my own travels.
That’s what I’m looking for: meeting people, talking to them, understanding how they live, how they think, how they cook, what they love or hate, and why.
Surely I visit the most famous sights wherever I go, but frankly speaking, that is always secondary to experiencing the “now,” real life. I am positive that traveling, or more precisely understanding-through-traveling, would be the cure for many substantial problems of this planet. I’d make traveling mandatory for all young people if that was my decision.
Many travelers are strongly affected by previous journeys, certain people they met, the different cultures they encounter, and special experiences on the road. What is your most memorable trip and why? You can write about more than one trip if you wish.
There’s no trip without discovering something new or something that made a profound impact on us. Every single trip I have done shaped me, changed me a bit, and there are certain events on every trip I will always remember.
One of my first “global” experiences back in 1991 was on a deck of a ship between Haifa, Israel, and Piraeus, Greece, traveling with 25-30 likeminded people feeling that we are the same cast even though we were from all over the world. We were free! A community of travelers, low budget, but open-minded people who don’t also need a common language to understand each other.
One moment I will never forget is from my trip to India in 1994. I was in Amritsar, Punjab, staying in the pilgrims’ house of the Golden Temple, trying to recover after some food poisoning in Pakistan. One evening I was chosen from a massive crowd for an important task: to be one of the people to carry the holy book of the Sikh back to its resting place. I never knew why me, but I felt honored!
Another great experience was back in the late ’90s when I traveled in Syria, hitchhiking from the site of Symeon the Stylite. I was picked up by a local couple, ethnic Armenians. They showed fantastic hospitality, took me to various places, talked about their life, problems, and joy, and I got some insights I could probably never get if I don’t meet them.
I recently met a legendary person called the Forest Man of India, in Assam, North-East India. While traveling, we decided to visit his village and see his project. If you read about his story and how he planted a whole forest on his own over the decades and started a completely new ecosystem on a dying land. During a concise conversation, you learn a lot about dedication, focus, and what one man can achieve if he believes in what he’s doing.
I could talk about my experiences for days non stop, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion…
Some people need to be encouraged to leave home, to lose their fear of traveling. What advice can you give to someone who wants to start traveling but doesn’t know how, when and why?
That is very real, I know a lot of people who are simply scared of traveling. First of all, because fear from the unknown is naturally coded into humans. To go to places they have never been, where they don’t understand the language, where people look different, the food is different, it is all alienating.
I’m sure everyone knows someone who travels, who they trust and they can ask if they have doubts. There are excellent online travel forums where no one will laugh at them if they ask even basic questions. Actually, they will get loads of information and encouragement. Let’s start with this travel blog right here, full of valuable information to read!
Also, there are community trips like the ones we do (my friend and I started an adventure travel company back in 2007). Travelers can join a group of people where they still feel independent without mother henning them. They end up traveling the way they like but get basic things taken care of and feel secure by being part of a community.
As an example, I’d probably never had driven a dodgy Soviet car all the way to Mali if I didn’t meet people who did the same, so I said: “OK, let’s go, what can go wrong”? If there is will and desire for traveling, nothing will stop people!
Have you lived in a different country for more than six months? If so, where was it, and what were you doing there. Also, tell me what you learned from your experiences abroad.
Unfortunately not. Although I always wanted to. Well, family matters… I have lived in Chennai, India, for almost 3 months, and I think that qualifies for 6 months elsewhere.
Choosing a favorite landscape can be very difficult. But try to choose a landscape that will remain in your memory forever. What did you feel at that time?
Just one? That would be the desert. I really love deserts. Most people think it’s something empty, dull, and monotonous, but it’s quite the opposite. The desert is magnificent, enormous.
I was in many deserts around the world, but I had this trip in Northern Niger, deep in the Sahara, where we traveled for days, and even with a GPS, precise waypoints, and some experience with the devices we got lost several times. And that is not really the place you want to get lost. There was the moment it stroke me more than ever… and I realized that despite our super vehicle and all the technology – how small and vulnerable we are.
Do you want to be interviewed?
Want to be included in my traveler’s interview archive? Please feel free to send a quick message to my WhatsApp +212696132468 – so that I send you the file. If I find your profile interesting and adequate for my blog, I will publish it.