Friday, 11 June 2010

Cutting corners

[pics another time, sorry]

Written 7th June

So here we are, having breakfast in a field side layby in Slovakia.  And it is hot and sunny and...

What?  What do you mean, you can't get from Romania straight to Slovakia?  

Ok, yes, you're right, you can't, and  we really have skipped straight through Hungary in just over 24 hours.  It is a shame but we did have a lovely long weekend in Budapest a few years ago - back when we did have time for all the tourist things like castles and museums and scrummy hot chocolate and cake in the renowned Café Gerbeaud, hot gluhwein from the christmas market, and fois gras and rich Bull's Blood wine in atmospheric cellar restaurants, it was a very good weekend! - and most of the hungary 'things' in the lp are way over west, so not on our Nordkapp bound trajectory.  Another time then.

But the drive was useful, nice flat motorway - it is effectively a toll motorway which we would normally avoid but we couldn't manage to explain to the woman at the border that we weren't going to use the motorway and therefore didn't need to pay the motorway tax on entering the country and, given that we had paid, we figured we shouldn't waste it.  The picnic stop service areas were particularly pleasant... - so a bit more fettling was done before we arrived in Eger, a small town known for its castle, baroque architecture and Bull's blood wine - honestly, it was on the way, stopping here was nothing to do with the wine... ;)

We found some architecture,

and the Minorite Church

and the statue of Istevan Dobo defeating the turks

and the castle, and the minaret, which, although now minus its accompanying mosque, is apparently the northernmost remains of the ottoman empire in europe - we had never really given much thought to the Ottomans before, seems they were quite a travelling bunch in their day! -

and then out to the Szepasszony Volgy, the Valley of Beautiful Women - that really is its name! - where all the winaries in the region have cellars for tasting.  I don''t know about beautiful women - is it so-called because after drinking the wine, all women think they are suddenly beautiful or because all women you then see are suddenly beautiful...  the bus load of middle aged ladies singing and swaying around in the carpark certainly seemed pretty pleased with themselves... ;) - but the small horseshoe shaped valley is pleasant enough, without actually being pretty,

with the 20-odd wine stores dug back into the hillside on each side. It seems the thing to do is bring some plastic bottles, make your way round the valley tasting as you go (for a small charge per glass) and then get your bottles filled at your favourite.  Or you come with one bottle and spend a happy afternoon in the park with your mates.  Either way, all jolly nice. 

Sadly, we didn't have a bottle and our quest to get across Hungary as quickly and cheaply as possible involved not getting any currency out as that forces us to spend money we don't need to before each border crossing so we didn't have any small money for little tastes but we did go back in the evening for dinner in one of the restaurants so a properly typical  hungarian meal of goulash with dumplings and paprika pork stew were ours, washed down with a delicious Eger red.  Well, we're only here for one night, got to make the most of it!

Spotted this at the restaurant next door...

I don't know about hungarian children but there's definitely one meal on their that Christopher Robin wouldn't eat, and piglet has questionable tastes too... :)

Up early this morning as the parking charge started at 8am - hadn't realised there was a time zone change so bit of a panic when the first clock I saw said 8:30! Fortunately the mobile which has the alarm changes timezone automatically, we just hadn't noticed the two were different.  Well, it's hard enough knowing what day of the week it is, let alone getting to actual specifics like hours and minutes... ;) - and we had intended just to get out of town and find somewhere to stop for a cup of tea but there wasn't anywhere and suddenly, with no fanfare and hardly any sign, there was the border.

So here we are, having breakfast in a field side layby in Slovakia.  And it is hot and sunny and all very lovely so far.

Lets see what this new country brings then....

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