Colm FitzGerald was born in Ireland, grew up in Southern California and now lives in Hungary. He’s passionate about exploring new cultures and off the tourist-trail destinations. The Paprika Project was born from the idea of sharing Hungary’s rich culture and natural beauty with the world.
Many people visit Budapest and move on, but Hungary is overflowing with fascinating places worth visiting: From awe-inspiring national parks to 22 distinct wine regions, this small country packs big charm. Through his photography and writing Colm hopes to give the world a glimpse into Hungarian ways and inspire others to live their lives outside of the box and discover themselves through travel. As a graduate of MatadorU’s writing and photography school, he is currently pursuing a career in the travel industry.
Growing up in Southern California I always knew my life would take me places. A house in the suburbs, the cushy corporate job, these things never appealed to me. I wanted to travel and experience the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the world for myself. In 2005 I moved back to Ireland, the country of my birth, and met a tall blonde girl from Hungary with striking blue eyes. Her name was Anita. I had already been in Ireland for about six months at that time and had fallen into a funk. My mind was already set on returning to to California, but Anita invited me to come and visit Hungary in April of 2006. Something clicked between us during that trip and my passion for life and adventure was rekindled.
That July we left Ireland and moved to Madrid, Spain. On our first night in España I proposed on the rooftop of our brick apartment building. I taught English and she found odd jobs here and there. We lived in tiny apartments and roamed the real city that never sleeps night after night in search of our next tapas fix. We voraciously explored museums, parks and every neighborhood in the city. Madrid was wildly entertaining but the hustle and bustle of big city life wore on us. I think I spent more time underground on the metro than in my apartment.
A year later we left the Spanish capital. In what I can only describe as a movie moment, Anita and I parted ways in the middle of Barajas Airport. I flew back to California and she to Hungary. Once in the states I would begin the process of applying for her Visa. I do not wish this task on my worst enemy.
After six months or so we were granted the K-1 Fiancee Visa. With hardly more than a few hundred dollars in our pockets, we married in June 2007 in California. By November of that year we had our own business cleaning windows. It was a modest profession but cost little to start and we were in profit mode from day one. We worked hard and grew our company while making regular trips to Hungary and other countries including Italy, Croatia and Austria.
And here we are today. In September 2014 we sold our business and decided to live out our dream from day one: to own a piece of land, produce our own food and raise a family in an environment that is peaceful and close to nature. And continue traveling of course!
On January 20th Anita and I boarded a plane in L.A. and started our next adventure. We’re currently living in Miskolc, Hungary with my father-in-law while we search for that perfect piece of land. I know it’s out there somewhere.