The jaunt up Kossuth Lajos Utca was a sunny one, cheerful, and beautiful. Honestly, Eger is a gorgeous little city, especially when you come up to the Eger Stream, which moves winsomely through the old(er) sections of town. Just near the castle and the stream is the lovely Marjan Cukraszda, a cafe with dessert-full cases of sweets, ice creams, and coffee. I settled in the seat, for a little while, the only one since it was really early, and decided on two small, delicious cakes and a latte.
After my treat, I found the sky to suddenly have gone the color of molten lead. The sun was gone, and the promise of rain thickened the air. Sad to have seen the sun leave, I hefted up the cobblestone way to the castle, hoping to see the grounds before the clouds broke.
I had to do some gesturing on my part to indicate to the ticket saleswoman that I wanted a combined ticket for the whole grounds, but with ticket in hand, I immediately went up to the old castle wall to get the gorgeous view of the whole town. Slate orange roof tops, delicate turquoise spindles of churches, and red terra-cotta tiles – this is why I love old little European towns.
And then, the bells. The church bells began to ring out as the wind picked up speed and became one step above arctic. I listened to the bells for as long as they were ringing out across the rooftops, beautiful, chiming, soothing – the sound I miss from Oxford. In Oxford, bells tolled, and I always smiled.
As my dear poet, Edgar Allan Poe, would say in his poem “The Bells” (1849):
HEAR the sledges with the bells —
Silver bells !
What a world of merriment their melody foretells !
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night !
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight ;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells —
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
Ah, those beautiful bells of Eger!
I recorded the bell tolling below – the sound and the movement isn’t the best, but you can certainly hear the bells once they get going!
There is not much of a castle left other than the walls and the old ramparts. Most of the exhibits, in the early spring, at least, were indoors. The Dobo Bastion houses a great collection of local historical artifacts, and the signs are in English at the István Dobó Museum.
Eger has had a rather bloody history as a stand-off point against the invading Turkish army – the final remnant of which you can see in the Minaret, visible from the castle walls. It’s Christian history is revealed in the ruins of the St. John’s Cathedral (built in the 1100s – so, nice and old). Those are tucked off to the side of the main castle square, but I recommend looking over those when the weather’s nice.
Thankfully, though, the rain has held off admirably, and despite the icy winds, I plucked my way carefully back down the cobbled street toward town, hoping to have lunch at a local place once more.