Magyarország (Hungary) - Good wine and lots of birds
Travel pictures from Hungary
by Dr. Günther Eichhorn
In June 2002 I visited Hungary during a trip through Central Europe. I reached Hungary by car from Prague, Czech Republic, crossing the border to Hungary just south of Bratislava, Slovakia. I took the smaller roads and drove south to the Balaton, a lake about 80 km (50 miles) long. Around that lake is one of the wine regions of Hungary. Along the north shore of the lake is the road that eventually leads to Budapest. I got into Budapest late in the afternoon.
Budapest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During the 4 days that I stayed in Budapest I walked around the city extensively. There are lots of interesting buildings and areas in Budapest. On the outskirts are the very modern shopping centers just like you can find around any larger city in the western world. Budapest is composed of three cities, Buda (west of the Danube), Óbuda (north of Buda), and Pest (east of the Danube). It has a lot of interesting architecture in the older parts of the town. Pest is interesting in that it has the oldest electric subway in European continent. It started service more than a hundred years ago, in 1896. The oldest in Europe is the one in London, starting in 1890. I took the subway once. It is old, but the stations have been recently refurbished, and they are beautiful.
During my stay there I visited Konkoly Observatory, as well as their telescopes about 100 km (60 miles) north of Budapest. This was the main reason for my visit to Budapest. Konkoly Observatory was founded in 1871 as a private observatory by Miklos Konkoly-Thege. It is now part of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
In Budapest are several Roman settlements that are excavated. They were interesting to visit. There were of course lots of churches to see in Budapest, but not as many as in other countries in central Europe.
During the visit to Budapest I visited an airport just outside Budapest and took some pictures of the activities at that airport.
From Budapest I drove south-east to Szeged and then east to România. Again I took some of the side roads through smaller villages. Along the Tisza, a river running through the eastern part of Hungary, are some very beautiful areas. The most impressive part were the White Storks (Ciconia ciconia, german: Weißstorch, french: Cigogne blanche). There are lots of them. In one field a farmer was harvesting with a large combine, and the storks were hanging out there to pick up animals that were flushed out by the harvesting. Sometimes they got real close to the combine.
Coming back from Oradea in România, I entered Hungary again about 50 km (31 miles) south of Debrecen. From there I went to the Hortobágy Puszta. The Hortobágy Puszta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The number of birds in that bird sanctuary is astonishing. It is a must-see in Hungary. From there I took the side roads again north to Aggtelek. There is a big cave system in Aggtelek, just south of the border to Slovakia, that is worth visiting. The caves stretch over miles, across the border with Slovakia. The Caves of Aggtelek are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From there I crossed over into Slovakia for the next segment of my visit to central Europe.
Driving in Hungary is no problem. On the rural roads you still see frequently smaller, older, Soviet era cars, but in general the cars in Hungary are fairly modern, quite different from România for instance. The roads were very good throughout Hungary, better than a lot of roads in the USA in fact. Hungarian villages are frequently along straight roads. The houses are build back about 5 - 10 m (16 - 30 ft) and have a garden in front. These gardens are frequently used to grow flowers, much less frequently it seems to grow food.
Agriculture is very modern, again quite different from România, Hungary's eastern neighbor. Hungary is for the most part completely flat, which makes agriculture with modern means easy.
Food and wine is very good. The food may be a little on the heavy side, but a good wine will help your digestion.
The alphabet in Hungarian has a lot of characters (I think there are 46 of them). They have for instance the 'o', then the 'ö', and then another o with basically a '"' on top (see one of the pictures below). The Hungarian language is quite different from the other Indo-European languages. It belongs in a separate group together with Finnish and Estonian.
Getting money is no problem in Hungary. As everywhere in Central Europe, you can get money from money machines with your regular bank card anywhere in Hungary. It was a very enjoyable visit. I was pleasantly surprised about the fact that the Hungarian economy seems to have caught up with western Europe quite well.
Birds in Hungary
At the Airport