Eger, Hungary, is known for it’s red wine production, notably the Bull’s Blood variety. It’s a dark, rich, gorgeous wine.
I embarked early again, nearly forgetting to set my alarm properly to be up at dawn’s first light, and tucked my feet into plastic bags as I was woefully short of rain boots and it was meant to rain all day. I had gone all over Budapest the other day to look for rain boots, but I hadn’t been successful.
I made it to the train station in plenty of time, but this train was a legit, you-need-to-know-your-car-and-seat train, unlike yesterday’s sit-anywhere-you-want-to train. Since I can’t read anything on my ticket but the date and the numbers are meaningless, I went through a few train seats before I could find a young man who spoke both English and Hungarian.
He very nicely informed me of my seat and car, but then, because the train was starting to leave the station, warned me not to go out and try to get back in. Thus, I was left to navigate between the cars as they rocked forward, finally locating my correct car and seat. Once I did, the girl next to me wasn’t very fond of the idea of having to remove her bag from the seat, but once I sat down, I was delighted.
Since I’d wanted to leave earlier in the day, I had chosen a train with a connection in Fuzesabony. It was about an hour and forty minutes to Fuzesabony from Budapest, and then another fifteen to twenty minutes to Eger from there. I got off that train in a jiffy, then played chutes and ladders with various stairwells until I located the train office. I asked the track number for my next train, then hightailed it down and up another set of stairs to get to the train, just before it departed.
And may I present to you…views of the Hungarian countryside from the train (pardon the scratches on the windows!). The journey to Eger is noticeably more hilly than the ride to Szeged.
Once in Eger, the walk into town proper from the train station is easy, calming, and winds through a residential neighborhood. The air was damp with the rain from the night before, but it was clean (when you’re coming from Shanghai in mid-late winter time, clean air is not to be taken lightly) and clear and cool. Birds chirped on fences and in trees and tried to poop on me as I walked by. Dogs barked, and local workers started their day.
It was pleasant and sunny, and I was mighty proud of myself for having navigated the trip well so far. For my first solo run abroad, I felt pretty good. Confident.
As I got into town, I found the two major churches and Eszterhazy Square, then wandered around a bit, intending to find the castle first and then work my way back into town. I popped around and back to some side streets and ended up going in the wrong direction – toward the Valley of the Beautiful Women, where the wine cellars are – instead of the castle. Of course I had a map. I had gone in the direct opposite direction of the castle.
But, as I chuckled to myself, I can’t read a map worth anything, but I sure find some beautiful places instead.