We're not dead yet!

Trip Start Jul 26, 2004
Trip End Sep 01, 2004

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Lots to say, lots to say!

Our last night in Budapest, we saw a performance of the Hungarian Folk Ensemble. Obviously a tourist-trap type of thing, but I like seeing any kind of dance and the presentation was fun: instead of just demonstrating the dance, they put it in context, like a country ball or a court dance. They looked like they were enjoying themselves, the women spinning merrily around and the men jumping and slapping their boots and cheering. G claims he enjoyed it, even though I had to keep poking him awake during the first part of the show. Poor baby, walking all day tired him out.

It was a shame that Eger (where we spent the last two nights) has something against internet cafes, because I couldn't write about all the wonderful wine we drank there. Really, I think that when my mother goes to heaven, it'll be there. A little valley with a single road; along one side, restaurants and along the other, nothing but little wine cellars, with wine about 60 cents a glass and a litre for 5$. The first night we were there we splurged and had a traditional meal in a nice restaurant, complete with gypsy band. I had cold fruit soup (made with plums and sour cream) and wild boar stew with these tasty little pasta beads; G had the Hungarian fish soup he'd been wanting to try and duck, which was delicious. We shared a litre of semi-sweet red wine that went down so easily that it was only after we left that I realised I couldn't really drink any more and we'd have to put off exploring the cellars until the next day.

Yesterday was a fruitless search for an internet cafe, which left me grumpy. We also saw the ruins of the Eger Castle, but it wasn't nearly as impressive as the ruins I saw in Slovakia. Near the end of the afternoon, we went back to the Valley of the Beautiful Women, where the wine cellars are, and tried and bought some. Quite good, even though the cellars themselves are teeming with mold, which offended G's delicate nostrils.

This morning we were up at 4:15 -- yes, that early! -- to catch a train to Fuzesabony (fuzzy bones!) to catch another one to Budapest. The reason I'd been searching for an internet cafe was to check the train schedules because at the Eger station, only local connections were posted and we wanted to get to Cluj today.

Well, we were back in Budapest a bit after 7:30 and found out that a train for Cluj left another station at 10, which gave us plenty of time to find a toilet, find bus/metro tickets and make our way to the station. Our train was already there, so we got settled in long before the departure time.

As the crow flies, Budapest to Cluj is at best 400km, maybe? (I'm guessing) The train journey, however, takes almost 8 hours. First of all because of all the stops, then because the train stops for a while at the last town in Hungary, passports are stamped, etc., then the same thing happens once on the Romanian side. And after the Great Hungarian Plain, the Carpathians suddenly leap out of nowhere, meaning the train has to wander through hills and valleys. It's incredibly pretty countryside, though, small green hills dotted with little red-roofed houses, and green, green, green everywhere. Unfortunately I kept nodding off and my eyes were often too unfocused to properly appreciate the view.

Now we have to check the train schedules again, so if you don't hear from us during the next couple of days, it's because we're out in the middle of nowhere seeing painted monasteries.
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