Balázs Dezse is an eye-catching figure, with tattoos everywhere, stretched ear piercings and a charming boyish smile. “I may not be 23 any more but I feel like I am and I’m simply not willing to get older,” he says, laughing as he stirs his soya milk coffee.
Dezse says that he has never really been career-driven, which may be why he enjoys his work so much. Currently he writes for “We love Budapest” but he is still open as to what his future may hold.
This approach has served him well so far. “I did my school leaving exam at 17 and wasn’t really sure what the next step should be. A relative in Canada suggested that I move there for a while until I figured out what I wanted to do.”
His uncle fled Hungary in 1956 with his parents and has lived in Canada since. Dezse lived for a time in the English-speaking part of the country but says he “never really felt at home there”. Why? “Because minus 40 degrees is bloody cold,” he says succinctly. Edmond is a beautiful area but for a young man from Budapest it was rather lonely, he says. “The whole city is spick and span and looks like a plaything. And unfortunately it’s also rather dull. While half the Hungarian capital seems to be out on the town at 11pm on a Friday, in Canada people are already settling in for the night.”
He decided to return to Budapest and pursue American Studies. Of course it was not simply the buzzing nightlife that brought him back. He was simply missing the Hungarian flair.
“We’re a poor city and a poor country. We build our success from the bottom up, such as ruin bars, design markets and home-brewed beers. A lot of things that are great successes today started from nothing.”
Dezse is fully enjoying the fruits of that creativity. “Sometimes I’m really overwhelmed by all the possibilities and don’t know what to do first.” Every day there are new entertainment options and new clubs, he says. “You simply can’t get bored in the city.”
Alongside all the fun, “We love Budapest” aims to present the city to foreigners from the perspective of insiders. Before turning to writing, Dezse worked for music channel Viva.
“Originally it was only intended to be a summer job,” he recalls. The summer job turned into a five-year stint. “First I just cut the texts into the live broadcast, names and subtitles and so on.” When a job as cameraman and technician became vacant, a colleague suggested he try his hand.
“It was incredibly fun. We travelled a lot, reported from all kinds of places and produced our own programmes.” It became time for him to leave, however, when increasingly programmes were bought from England and America, and dubbed and broadcast instead. “Unfortunately the standard fell, more and more colleagues were laid off and I wasn’t really enjoying the work any more.”
He kept his head above water by translating articles and helping with books. As a lucky coincidence, the position of journalist at “We love Budapest” presented itself.
Although the staff are constantly under deadline pressure, it is clear that he loves the job. “We want to give more underground tips. At the moment we’ve got more readers on our Hungarian site but we’re keen to push the English site more now.”
Part of this strategy involves presenting parts of the capital of which even many Budapest residents are unaware, in addition to the familiar suggestions such as the Basilica and the Castle District.
“When it comes to Paris everyone thinks of the Eiffel Tower but there are so many other sights, and that’s true of Budapest as well.” Since there are also countless interesting events outside Budapest too, the partner site “We love Balaton” is being launched. However, Dezse will not work for that site directly because there is still so much to do and write about in Budapest – and that is clearly his calling.
We love Budapest
The shop Szerpentin Szalon feels idyllic from the moment we enter. The enticing aroma of fresh coffee and the soothing sounds of classical music mixed with antique furniture make visitors feel instantly at ease. When we learn that the small shop is the brainchild of two cousins, who run it themselves, we are eager to find out more. This treasure in District I’s Hunyadi János utca is an excellent spot to relax or hunt for inexpensive souvenirs after a walk in the Castle District.
For more information see www.welovebudapest.com