Naive Artists

Trip Start Jun 08, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I stayed in Pecs for the morning to see one of the museums that had been closed on Monday. Specifically, I went to the Cella Septichora Visitor Center to see a set of World Heritage-listed early Christian tombs. The Visitor Center was underneath the St. Peter and Paul Basilica, and it consisted of a series of walkways around and above a handful of burial vaults from the 3rd and 4th centuries, created by the Roman inhabitants of the area. Several of them were still decorated with murals, and the center was a very creative way to allow visitors to view them while still protecting the tombs from further damage.

Leaving Pecs having seen the majority of what I wanted, and just seconds before it started to pour rain, I headed across central Hungary to Kecskemét. For about half of the trip, I was on a secondary highway. It went through a long stretch of country fields, with a curtain of trees lining the sides of the road. The traffic was mostly myself and a bunch of truckers.

At one point, I passed a bus stop with a single woman waiting by the side of the road. I couldn't tell you why at the time, but there was something about it that seemed a little off. She was waiting for a bus in the early afternoon on a Tuesday in the middle of Farmville, Hungary, but she was dressed like she was going out clubbing on a Friday night in Budapest. After passing an identical sight every few kilometers where there was a pull-off for the better part of an hour, I was 95% sure they were prostitutes.

I did some checking into it, and prostitution had been legal in Hungary since 1999, but critics pointed out Hungary was still a center of human trafficking and the legalization alone didn't help the prostitutes. Under the current laws, local governments could designate zones of operation, so that road must have been one on the list. Apparently, there were several highways with similar setups, but that was the only one I saw, and I did a lot of driving in Hungary.

But learning about Hungarian prostitution was not my goal for the afternoon. I was on my way to Kecskemét, Although I got a few pictures of some creative buildings, of which there were quite a few, I was mainly interested in two of the town's museums: the Museum of Hungarian Naive Artists and the Szórakaténusz Toy Museum and Workshop. There were actually a number of small, quirky sounding museums in the town. If I hadn't spent the morning in Pecs, I might have gone to one or two of the others.

For the first of the two museums, I figured I had been to the Croatian Museum of Naive Artists, so I should see how Hungarian naive art compared. The Hungarian museum was actually a mixture of folk art and naive art. The line between the two was apparently rather thin, and it kind of seemed like "naive art" was the term for "folk art" when the artist painted on canvas instead of whittling or cross-stitching something.

The second museum, the Toy museum, had a charming collection of old-fashioned toys. Many of them were hand-made. A lot of them were local, but there was a section of toys from around the world. The museum also apparently functioned as a daycare center and I found myself dodging stampedes of children, but it was a toy museum, so I couldn't complain.

After the museum, I spent a little more time on the town square before heading on for the night. When I checked into my hotel in a small town south of Kecskemét, the clerk asked me if I was in town for tourism or business. I replied "tourism", but I was intrigued by the question as the town was small and I had presumed in the middle of nowhere. Apparently, they get quite a bit of foreigners because a new factory was being built in the area. I passed it on my way from Kecskemét and it appeared to be some sort of auto or maybe tractor factory. Consulting the internet, it may have been a Mercedes-Benz plant. Still, I'd guess that meant most of their foreign guests were from Germany, I can't imagine the company imports a lot of US workers.

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