I travel a good bit, and almost always arrange for a private tour when I visit a place for the first time. Friends of mine recommended Zoltan's company based on their experience with another guide a few months ago. Zoltan was incredibly knowledgeable, insightful, flexible, and focused on making sure that my expectations for my tour were met.
After meeting up, Zoltan asked what I was interested in. I'm not sure my answer was coherent, but I tried to convey that I was incredibly curious, interested in history, interested in modern Hungarian life, not interested in religion, and that I would be keen on having a tour that didn't focus on the typical list of places that one must visit. In short, my request to Zoltan was, "Show me what you love about Budapest. Show me what you hate about Budapest. I want to hear interesting stories and get a sense of the place."
Without much more than that, we set afoot and walked the city. I got great history lessons, learned bout Hungarian politics, discussed demography and sociology, saw interesting sites, and spent a fun time with a cool guy and got a glimpse into a life well lived. We also had coffee, Hungarian disgestifs, and an adventure in the West End mall trying to find an adapter for an American electrical plug.
In short, I got exactly what I wanted. My request may have been unconventional, but Zoltan delivered. After a half day together, I left feeling like I'd scraped the surface of Budapest and Hungary and I wanted to know and experience more. It was the kind of introduction that will set me up for a lifetime of visits and learning, which is so much more valuable than just ticking the tourist-trap boxes.