Friday, July 02, 2004

Katowice, Poland--Budapest, Hungary--Eger, Hungary—Day 153

Before heading to Budapest, Sarah and I decided on taking a slight detour to Eger, which is about 2 hours by train. Our train ride from Katowice to Budapest left at 11:45pm and arrived in Budapest at 9:30am. We then had about an hour before we caught our 4th train (in a 24 hour time frame!) on to Eger.

The overnight train was very luxurious—there were three sleeper beds in each cabin and not only did you get a full bed and sheets, but a hand towel AND a croissant for breakfast! There was a girl in the room when Sarah and I showed up who was on the top bunk of the three, and Sarah and I had the middle and bottom bunks. We settled in and before I knew it, I was asleep.

Then all I remember is waking up and trying to open the door. I was shaking it and trying to unlock the lock. Sarah was telling me to open it, so I was trying to but because of how it was deadbolted and then locked with a chain, I couldn’t do it. I woke up mid-attempt and wondered what the heck I was doing! Then the passport patrol people knocked louder and tried opening the door. I couldn’t open it, so the girl on top had to jump down.

I had subconsciously responded to Sarah’s requests for me opening the door without hearing the knocking that had woken the other two up. I was definitely disorientated and realized that it was 2:30 in the morning, so I had every right to be. We had to get out our passports since we were traveling through the Slovak Republic. Once we finally got the door open, I couldn’t for the life of me get my bag open (which I had locked to keep it safe while I was sleeping) and it took what seemed like hours for me to get the combination to work. For some reason, the stupid thing just wouldn’t open and of course that would happen to me with two huge passport official looming over me.

I finally got it open and handed it to them and they left. This happened again later on in the morning when we reached the Hungarian border, although I was more prepared this time. All in all, the train ride was fine and we pulled into Budapest feeling pretty good.

The train to Eger was fine too but Sarah and I were worried that we were on the wrong train (as always). The girl next to me spoke English and assured us that we were on the right train.

We were. Hopping off in Eger, we got a taxi to our cute little bed and breakfast in the town square that we had arranged. It was so cute and homey and we took quick showers before heading out to have lunch and then explore the Eger Castle which overlooks Eger and is the sight where the Ottomans were defeated in 1553 (a big deal in Hungarian history!).

After walking around the castle grounds and visiting several exhibits on its history, we made our way through town and headed to the Valley of Beautiful Women. (No joke, that is what it is called!) We first stopped off at the Eger Cathedral which was designed to be the largest Cathedral in Hungary, according to our guidebook. We then headed on to the Valley of Beautiful Women, which was about a 25 minute walk from the Cathedral.

The Valley is known for its numerous wine cellars that started up after WWII in the volcanic hillside near Eger. There are over 25 cellars there now, and you can really just spend a whole day walking around from each little small cellar to the next tasting all of the different wines that they produce. Sarah and I didn’t hit all 25, but made it to quite a few and had a blast—at one point we were being serenaded by several Hungarian men and their instruments (ok, it was just a quartet playing Hungarian music, but still!) and we had to take a taxi home quite a few cellars (and drinks, ahem) later.

We dropped off some stuff at the hotel and went and got dinner before heading back out on the town to explore a little bit more of Eger. We finally ended up at the hotel exhausted from two long days of traveling.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.