This is a guest post by my lovely travel companion… none other than my very own mum! Enjoy…
Off to Eger…….(pron. Egg-Air)
We decided on a two day adventure out of ‘Budi’ to the countryside to get a feel for Hungary and a more realistic take on local life. Eger was our base.
Car hired and on the road, the countryside to the northeast was a little unremarkable….fairly flat.
As we drove past townships along the freeway, we felt confounded by the strangest sight. A traditional, quaint town or small city was marred by ugly, grey, high-rise buildings. Why? What are they for? Factories? Housing? Are they deserted? Local knowledge revealed they were indeed used for housing and were called a “panel” for short. In Hungary, these buildings are long associated with the working class and the unemployed, thus bearing a social stigma. Up to 10 percent of the population lives in panel housing. We learned that these concrete structures resulted from two main factors: the post war housing shortage and the ideology of the Communist leadership….to foster a ‘collective nature’ to the people. Despite the history lesson here, for us this posed issues with our photography!!! Quaintness clashes with concrete block!!
Directions into and around Eger proved challenging…..stopping to ask an elderly lady how to find a street name led to a 5 minute detailed description….but in Hungarian. She was gesturing overtly, a kind of deep voiced singalong of words that just kept going. We let her deliver, with her becoming more animated as she described the journey in her mind, with her almost in our car window by the end. She built to the crescendo and looked at us for understanding to which we madly nodded, much shaking of hands and off we went to nowhere.
Our accommodation was a classic. One of our finest for “mismatch”. Anything goes for décor. Old pots, coloured rugs, ancient lamps, cupboards from ancient times. A younger woman looked after us in the ‘olden times’ bar. She spoke English and was able to enlighten us about life in a small country town. The wages are so low but then again their housing is cheap. For herself, a plane ride to London is out of the question. She can’t see beyond their basic survival….but she was content. A poke around the castle of Eger, street meanderings, a trip up to a gorgeous lake, Lake Lillafüred, a forest hike and to top it all off an afternoon spent in the natural hot springs.
But best of all was sharing time with our wonderful daughter. Lauren is fun and easy to travel with. We enjoy the same adventures, love getting off the beaten track and chatting with the locals. We laugh at the same things and yearn for the more simple things. How lucky am I?