Founder’s Diary: Budapest

InterNations Founder & Co-CEO Malte Zeeck tells us all about his recent trip to visit the InterNations Budapest Community, a vibrant expat event in a charming metropolis.

I hadn’t been to Budapest in a decade, but after ten years of absence, the city impressed me all over again with its sheer beauty.


As I was lucky enough to stay with friends in a centrally located apartment, close to the river, it was easy to see why the capital amply deserves its nickname “Pearl of the Danube”. And those who are more interested in present-day nightlife rather than architecture and history will love Budapest as well — it’s a perfect city for heading out and enjoying yourself!

An Eclectic Event Venue and the Perfect Hosts

The InterNations Official Event was hosted at Up & Down, a fairly new bar and restaurant whose riverfront location surely makes it one of the most panoramic venues in town. From its terrace, you have a great view of the majestic Danube, provided you aren’t distracted by the place’s eclectic and extravagant interior design.


The stylish location had been chosen by our hosts Samira and Erika, two members of the InterNations Budapest Community Team. The two perfectly complement each other: Samira came from Teheran to Hungary to acquire her Ph.D. in pharmacy and work in the pharmaceutical industry, while Hungarian-born Erika used to work as a chocolatier in Iran until last January.

A Growing Community and a Stylish Party

This great duo is one of four official Ambassador Teams in the Hungarian capital: our Budapest Community has grown to an impressive 12,000 members, and a total of eight InterNations Ambassadors from Hungary, Iran, Italy, Romania, Sweden, and the US organize three regular events and a Newcomers’ Event each month. Moreover, nearly 30 InterNations Groups offer a plethora of activities for a wide range of interests, from business breakfasts to live concerts to aviation.


Over 250 guests from nearly 50 countries had signed up for this event, and while I was giving an interview to a young journalist from Daily News Hungary, the two friendly hosts offered a warm welcome to everyone. Then I seized the opportunity for a brief welcome speech, thanking all the volunteers.

Volunteers such as our great photographer Wolfgang, a German expat, to whom we owe the professional-looking pictures of the smartly dressed crowd. (The night’s dress code motto was “Black & White”.) I hope I could encourage other members to step up and get actively involved in our community life, for example by joining our many group activities or even by starting their own InterNations Group.


I enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere and the interesting people at the event so much that I just didn’t want it to end at the official closing time of 23:30: so the Ambassadors, several members, and I unofficially continued the party at BOB — short for Barcardi Original Bar, an elegant long drink club close to the famous Chain Bridge. If you love sipping a classic Cuba Libre or gin and tonic, this is the right place for you!

A Swedish-Hungarian Love Story and an International Festival

On the following day, Erika, Samira, Daniel (another member of the Budapest Ambassadors Team), and I met up for lunch at Pomo D’Oro, a traditional Italian trattoria in downtown Budapest, to discuss the general business strategy for InterNations and the future development of our Budapest Community in particular. (Aside for ice-cream lovers: all visitors with a sweet tooth should also make sure to stop by at the Pomo D’Oro gelateria and artisan confectionary right across the street.)


Daniel, an expat from Stockholm, who works for a Scandinavian telecommunications company, was very enthusiastic about Budapest: he considers it to be Europe’s most beautiful city. But he didn’t fall in love only with the Hungarian capital: thanks to InterNations, he also happened to meet his wife Katalin here, with whom he now organizes some of our local events for the Budapest Community. It was them, for example, who hosted the recent celebrations for our ninth anniversary. Unfortunately, Katalin — whom I chatted with the night before — couldn’t make it to our lunch, though.


While Daniel and Samira had to leave after a delicious meal and a productive discussion, Erika kindly took the time to show me the Sziget Music Festival, where Manu Chao, an artist I remember from my student days, was currently playing. But there’s more about this in my sightseeing tips for Budapest

Viszontlátásra, Budapest! I will definitely be back.

(Image credit: InterNations)

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