More About Hungary

After spending several days in Budapest, we rented a small – very small – car and spent the next ten days visiting several other towns and cities.

I think my favorite was Eger, to the northeast of Budapest. It’s been a while, but I remember three things about Eger very clearly.

First was a minaret in the center of town. I started to climb up the extremely narrow interior steps until my claustrophobia took over… at the third step.

There’s a spectacular sculpture in the center of the old town commemorating the Magyars defence of the city against the invading Huns. Hungary has been invaded and liberated over and over again throughout history. The Nazis and the Russians were just the most recent.

And there was a wonderful meal in our hotel where we were entertained by a group of musicians led by an astonishing violinist.

From there we drove to an area of the country called the hortobagy (pronounced HOR-tow-badj) where the great, broad flat plain, the puszta, is located. This is the center of the Hungarian horse culture. My wife and daughter went for a two-hour ride and returned positively aglow, having experienced, in my wife’s words, “several thundering gallops.”

We also were privileged to see some demonstrations of absolutely astonishing horsemanship. For instance, there was the csicos (Hungarian equivalent to “cowboy”, pronounced CHEE-kosh) who rode past us standing, one foot on one horse, the other foot on another horse, with three more horses out front, guiding all five animals with reins in each hand and at a full gallop. WOW! (As a matter of fact, it was my distinct impression that Hungarians do pretty much everything at a full gallop.)

More to come.