The most inspirational person I’ve met in my travels was my Hungarian-Swiss Airbnb host in Chur, Switzerland: Piroska Szönye. You’re probably asking yourself, “Who is this lady and why should she matter to me?” Well it’s not so much who she is, but what she taught me. The way she lives her truth fiercely and in doing so, truly lives.
My first impression? Piroska doesn’t just go through the motions. We arrived at her flat, unassuming at first, but bursting with creativity once inside. She captivated us from the beginning with her decor alone. It was clear that she was an artist by trade as we noticed the stacks of mini luggage trunks kissing the ceiling, handscribbled recipes decorating loose wrinkled, pages and a chair made entirely of meaningful letters from her life. It was a lot to take in.
She was calm, relaxed and genuinely just happy as she explained that she was writing a book. A handmade diary from Heidi herself (ya know, the one that went to live with her grandparents in the mountains when she was a child… or so the fairytale says). It was the most original thing I’d ever seen, every single copy handmade and personalized for the reader! Including recipes Heidi might have used in the Alps, songs she might have sung, black + white pictures wrinkled with time. Piroska had poured her soul into this art project. Every book would be delivered in one of the mini luggage trunks that she was in the process of adding border control stickers to when we walked in. If you want to see how amazing her process is, check out the book below!
Here she is dressed as Heidi herself. They literally climbed the Swiss Alps in costume with a table, floor lamp and miscellaneous props in hand to make this picture possible. If I had this kind of dedication in my life, it would look very different.
Chur is a small village – our stopover between the Bernina Express and Salzburg. So we came in with zero expectations and zero things to do, which was perfect. We spent the entire afternoon + evening learning more about Piroska and her journey through life. The way she left Hungary when she was a child, and the slow, tumultuous transition into Swiss life. The languages she speaks fluently, the causes she fights for, the children she has helped, the famous people she has met because she just does what she’s passionate about. We listened to the original songs her best friend had written for her, and I thought to myself, “These are the kinds of people you should keep around in your life.”
She made us coffee + poured us wine, while James Blunt crooned in our ears. I was equally as inspired by her music as I was by her words, and I’m #notsorry that I secretly shazamed every song on her playlist… get it for yourself here! Guys, she was even kind enough to gift me 3 beautiful vases I was admiring in the guest room. Her room overlooked a beautiful garden, and it was filled with items she had collected from her travels. Her decor was simply her memories. And what better way to create conversation with your guests than to fill your home with pieces that tell your individual story?
We spoke until our eyes couldn’t stay open, and it reminded me how much I miss engaging conversations. Words with meaning. Lives with purpose. Piroska didn’t necessarily do anything to inspire me. It was all in her perspective, and the way she found joy in the little things like music, coffee, windows with a view. It was the way she was “full” because of the passions she pursued… the ones we’re sometimes told are not “the responsible thing to do.” This may have been a complete tangent, and I’m sorry if it was, but I believe it’s important for us to be reminded of how fulfilling everyday life can be. At least it is for me!