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Posts Tagged ‘Hungary’

Pécs

Pécs is a smallish town 3 hours by train South of Budapest. It’s not far from the border with Croatia. It’s a cute little town, but we got a late start in the morning, so we only had six hours or so there. There are a lot of museums we didn’t get to.

In the main square there’s a mosque that was turned into a church. It’s kind of cool looking and I think it’s funny how they stick a cross on top of the symbol for Islam and call it good. We found that on a minaret in Eger as well. I found out later that the godfather of Attila, our little friend who lives down the road, is the priest in that church that used to be a mosque.

Pécs has a lover’s lock repository as well. It seems to be a fad in Europe. My friend says in Warsaw there’s a bridge where you lock your lock and then throw the key into the river. I can just imagine someone in two millenia discovering a million keys buried under what used to be a river and trying to make sense of it. “Perhaps it was some ritual cleansing. The key representing being locked to the powers of evil.”

My favorite part of Pécs was the cathedral. It’s beautiful inside. The larger part is gorgeous and then there’s a smaller crypt down below that was the original church that’s lovely as well.

The cathedral from outside.

 

The cathedral inside.

Then crypt downstairs.

After the cathedral we found some ruins of an old church and an early Christian burial place. You walk down these stairs and into a glass partition that projects into this tiny room with one of those stone, above ground coffins. Man, my technical terms are not agreeing with me today. Anyway, somebody was buried there in the 4th century, shortly after Rome converted to Christianity. It was super old and kind of cool, but otherwise a little boring. There are some other early Christian burial places, but we missed them and didn’t have time to go back.

We had dinner at a nice little restaurant where we could sit outdoors. The food was fabulous, but made us miss our train. That was fine because the grilled vegetables with brie was worth it and there was a later train. And, that way we weren’t in too much of a hurry to get Avery the ice cream we had been bribing her with since the previous day.

On the way back to the train station we checked out some Zsolnay tiles. The Zsolnay family figured out a way of making tiles really tough so they could withstand the cold and heat of being on a roof, but still maintain their bright colors. Several buildings all throughout Hungary have their tiles on their roofs, including the Great Market Hall and Matyas Templom here in Budapest. They’re really pretty.

The Zsolnay family also came up with an iridescent glaze they can put on ceramics. It’s makes the ceramic not as tough, so it’s not used on roofs, but there’s a fountain with figures on it that are glazed this way in the main square of Pécs. They cover it in the Winter to protect it. Communism wasn’t very kind to the Zsolnay family, but they’ve come back some in the last few years and you can buy their products again. They’re fairly pricey though.

Here’s a picture of Matyas Templom in Budapest so you can see some more tiles.

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Budapest has a Christmas market every year in Vörösmarty Tér. Recently Budapest made the areas around Vörösmarty Tér a pedestrian zone so we walked down a couple really nice streets of high end shopping district to get the the square crammed with Christmas stands. There were about three or four rows of stands set up with enough space between them for about two to three people to stand shoulder to shoulder. We got there around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and it wasn’t too crowded but by 4:00 or so our two strollers were becoming a public nuisance.

Budapest’s Market is a good one to go to (many of the cities in Europe have them) because they work pretty hard to keep the booths selling only traditional and hand made crafty things. There were all sorts of things there from cow bells to hand bound books to felt slippers and hair clips to wood puzzles, bowls and goblets. We got a hand bound journal for the new baby and a beaded ornament of the old Hungarian flag.

Thanks to Nephi and Melinda for all the pictures on this post as we forgot our camera.

There were several nativity scenes around the square

A traditional Hungarian treat for festival times is kürtőskalács. They’re a bread dough wrapped around a dowel about 3 inches across and then turned over coals kind of like meat on a spit or something to cook them. Then they put vanilla sugar, nuts, cinnamon, coconut, or cocoa powder on the outside and sell them hot. They’re super good, but I’d recommend having someone to share them with. They’re huge. Ivan and I shared one with Avery and it was plenty big enough for all three of us. We got coconut and it was delicious. The people we were with got vanilla sugar and it was alright, but I liked the coconut better.

And then there was the dog with dreadlocks:

I’m not even sure the picture does him justice. I didn’t believe he was real. I thought the owner was holding onto a leash for effect or something and then the dog moved and I still almost didn’t believe it. Apparently this is a traditional Hungarian grown kind of sheep dog. There are two breeds, the best known is the Komondor, and it looks just like the dog has dreadlocks. Wikipedia has more if you’re interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komondor

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Christmas in Budapest

In Hungary Santa Clause is called Mikulás and on December 6th kids leave their shoes next to the window so he can leave them candy or nuts in their shoes overnight. We learned about this about two days before and decided to take advantage. Unfortunately we didn’t have any window sills big enough so Mikulás had to find our shoes next to the door.

Avery was pretty excited. The next day we went to a square just in front of the Parliament building in downtown Budapest to see Mikulás himself. Unfortunately Daddy had a late class that night so Mommy, Avery and a family from church went together.

The Parliament building is really pretty and it’s HUGE. Apparently they only really use about an 8th of it for parliament functions anymore. Someday we’ll go and take a tour of the inside I hope. It was dark, so the pictures aren’t all that great, but it looked really impressive and neat with all the Christmas things lit up in front of it.

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