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Journey to Eger

Part of our plan for Hungary was to visit the tiny wine growing region around the town of Eger. We packed enough clothes for two days into our day packs and headed off to the train station. The walk was about 30 minutes, but pretty easy. We arrived a few minutes before the train was to depart and found seats and were off for the 2 hour trip. The ticket guy came by and to our relief seemed happy with the two tiny bits of paper we showed him. This was a relief. The journey to Eger passed through forested areas which gave way to large agricultural tracts. Eventually we arrived in Eger. We were really hungry and decided to stop at the first place we found. This we did. It was a 6 seat café manned by a fellow who was very fluent in Hungarian. We’re fluent in English. This was solved when he produced the Anglis menu. After some speculation, we ordered. After a bit he reappeared with 2 bowls of what turned out to be caramelized cabbage and egg noodles. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It was really good! After lunch we made our way to our hotel for the next 2 nights. Check in was easy. After dropping off our stuff, we went out to look around. The first thing we noticed was that, while Eger is clearly a tourist destination, this is the off season. It was really nice to be away from crowds. IMG_5234.jpegOur reason for coming here was to visit the Valley of the Beautiful Women, which is the name given to the tiny wine region near Eger. IMG_5237.jpegWe walked to the edge of town then down into the valley. IMG_5235.jpegAt the bottom of the hill we entered a horseshoe shaped street, lined on the outside with wine cellars. It would be easy to walk around the whole place in 10 minutes. We decided to check one out and try their product. We found out that the cellar, like all the others, are tunnelled into the limestone. IMG_5238.jpegThe horseshoe looked to contain about 50 cellars. We later found out that many are closed at this time of year. We each had a glass of wine then moved on. We repeated this several times until we had made our way around the perimeter. All the cellars are from very small vineyards. The most famous wine of the region is Egri Bikaver or as it is called locally, bulls blood. It’s a really great red wine. Different from anything else I’ve ever tasted. Soon it was time to make our way back to our hotel and find a place for dinner. We settled on a Greek place adjacent to the hotel. No menu in English here but, once again, we managed.The food was really good. Then it was time to call it a night.
Thursday morning saw us return to the Greek restaurant for breakfast. Then we did a tour of the town. We walked by the castle, passed the basilica and spent quite a bit of time walking through the huge park in the town.IMG_5242.jpegIMG_5231.jpeg Then it was back to the valley and more wine. In this case, much more wine. We stopped in at a cellar that offered tastings. We decided on each trying 3 samples. The cost for the 3 samples was 1400 Forints. FYI $1 is roughly 500 Forints. We each selected 3 wines that we wanted to try. The owner asked us to go sit outside and he would bring our wine. It was a beautiful day and we happily went out and sat at a table. Soon we were each presented with 3 full glasses. I’m sure we both quickly did the math in our heads. Anyhow, we sat in the sun enjoying our wine and visiting a bit with the owner. He confirmed that this is the off season and a lot of the cellars are closed. After about an hour we were done with our wine and the sun had moved on so we said goodbye and walked over to the sunny side of the horseshoe. We returned to a cellar that we had visited the previous day. I had really enjoyed their bulls blood and Arlene wanted to try their ice wine. It’s hard to find any complaint when you’re sitting in the sun with a really nice glass of wine. We had our wine and bought a couple of bottles to bring home, then moved on. We walked down past a couple of cellars that were closed and settled in for one last glass before returning to our hotel. As we were leaving the valley we passed another cellar that was featuring a Portuguiser wine. large_IMG_5241.jpegWe’d never heard of that so felt we needed to check it out. The clerk was friendly and the wine was really inexpensive, but too sweet for our liking. By this time our common sense had started to leave us so we decided to buy a bottle of a white wine that we had both enjoyed and take it back to our hotel room. We stopped on the way and picked up some meat and cheese to snack on. Long story short, that bottle disappeared along with the meat and cheese. By now it was getting pretty late and we hadn’t had dinner so away we went. I had read about a place that I wanted to try, but we had decided not to as it looked like a more dressy place than we had clothes for. This didn’t seem like such a big deal for some reason now. We figured the worst that could happen was that they would turn us away. No such luck. We were welcomed and given menus. We noticed that they had a 4 course dinner and wine pairing. This seemed like a great idea and we ordered. The dinner was delicious and very well presented. I would go back there in a minute. After dinner we tottered the short distance back to our hotel and were soon asleep.

Posted by Basebrown 15:11 Archived in Hungary

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