A Travellerspoint blog

Hungary

Last days in Hungary

Eger and the Budapest Opera House

sunny 28 °C

After leaving the Tokaj region we traveled back toward Budapest to Miscolc and Eger. There are mineral baths at Miscolc so we stopped for a few hours. The baths are a series of cave mineral pools of varying degrees of temperature. Kellie had booked a mud bath (is it someone putting mud on me; am I alone; Oh it's a bath - is it my own mud?) and after this we went to a salt cave. We thought we'd be soaking in salt water in a cave but it was a sauna with 5 inches of salt on the floor and the walls were encrusted with salt. After swimming in the labyrinth of cave pools and feeling relaxed and rejuvenated we left to drive to Eger to explore caves of the region. We arrived too late though so walked around the town. This area was beautiful and definitely merited more time than we had. After sleeping there, we drove back to Budapest and went to our apartment beside the Opera House. We had a private tour because Kellie's knee required using the elevator, then got to watch 2 arias being sung by one of Budapest's opera singers.

Cave bath

Cave bath

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FzrDmQWZfI

Posted by kelshell 21:00 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Tokaj wine country experience

Delicious sweet white wines

sunny 22 °C

Well we are in Shelley's wine country here! What a gorgeous countryside the Tokaj region is. And the learning opportunities were just fascinating. Although Kellie knows a lot about wine, I did not. Now I can discern between wines that have been in oak barrels versus stainless steel tanks, differences in growing terrain creating different flavour and really enjoyed wine tasting for the first time. I could finally smell and taste the subtle aromas and flavors people talk about in wines. In the past all I could smell was alcohol or dry acidic smells. These wines have such character I really enjoyed the experience!

It is true, Shelley and sweet wines do go well together. I myself am a bit of a dry white wine lover so was a bit concerned thinking we would be inundated with super sweet syrupy whites. Well, was I in for a surprise! Not only does the Tokaj wine region produce great sweet wines, they also have amazing dry wines. Here we experienced several different grape varietals that were very new to me. To name one, the fermint grape, which is common here, is wonderful. We tasted this as a single varietal as well as well in blends. The volcanic earth here does impart amazing minerality to the wines, and I can say there was hardly ever a dry white that I tried that I didn't like. Often these wines spent time only in stailiess steel vats, so they were crisp and friuty and easy drinking. The whites that spent time maturing in Hungarian and/or French oak where wonderful with creamy notes and fuller body. To my surprise, the late harvest wines and the special Aszu wines, which are definitely sweet, were well balanced with enough acid content that I was able to completely appreciare their flavours. I think what was most amazing about this area was the vast amounts of cave tunnels, deep under the volcanic terrain, dripping literaly with this black noble mold that continues this aging process for these wines that makes them truly unique. As we were told only one other place in the world (Rhine Valley) can this mold be found, and while other countries have tried to reproduce this, they have not been successful. So, here we are, in a relatively tiny area of the world, enjoying an elixer that is completely unique to our world. On top of this, the wine is affordable and such a shame that we can't carry a case of it in our journey. As it stands, we have each purchased several bottles that we will have to drink in the coming days before heading off to Africa. As well Linda, after having all this wine, I can't even feel my knee pain!

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Grof Degenfeld winery

Grof Degenfeld winery

Grof Degenfeld hotel and winery - 4 star

Grof Degenfeld hotel and winery - 4 star

Muppet eyes - too much wine

Muppet eyes - too much wine

Wine fun

Wine fun

Grof Degenfeld

Grof Degenfeld

Ford Focus

Ford Focus

Bodrog river

Bodrog river

Kellie and Agnes at Oremus winery

Kellie and Agnes at Oremus winery

View from Oremus

View from Oremus

Cave entrance at Oremus

Cave entrance at Oremus

Wine in caves

Wine in caves

Tasting cellar

Tasting cellar

Oak casks

Oak casks

Noble mould

Noble mould

Wine cellar caves

Wine cellar caves


Wine cellar caves

Wine cellar caves

Tasting in the cellar

Tasting in the cellar

Disznoko winery

Disznoko winery

Noble mould on cellar bottles

Noble mould on cellar bottles

https://youtu.be/8fLVBD0yabc
https://youtu.be/nqTLcn-qtZ8

Posted by kelshell 21:20 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Hungary anyone?

sunny 27 °C

Shelley and I boarded our bus that took us from Prague to Budapest. We have found that even though the trip itself can be longer ( this one taking about 7 hours), the buses are roomy, have movies, and some even offer refreshments. The cost usually can't be beat so this is how we made our way to Hungary, which is our 7th country on our grand adventure. This part of our trip was not prebooked so we managed to get WiFi on the bus and discovered a great apartment in Budapest on the Danube. We are getting very good with big city metro stations and managed to make our way from the bus to our new home away from home without incident. We both agreed it was our smoothest new country transition so far. Given that we lost our WiFi connection half way on our bus journey, we could not really confirm how to get the keys, given it was not a hotel. During booking I remembered reading comments in the review section about how easy is was to pick up the keys at the cafe next door. So, that's what we did, we went to the cafe next door to the address and low and behold, the waitress was there to give us a key. The apartment was in a very old building and was roomy and in a great location. So, we settled in for a few days to get ready to explore Budapest.

During our first day we walked a bit around the 'Pest' side of Budapest. It had great pedestrian only areas, and some lovely architecture. Given the city is split by the Danube, there are also some marvelous bridges that connect the Buda side with the pest side. These bridges are even more beautiful at night, and from our street we walked along the Danube and enjoyed some magical views. Our first meal on this first day , where we were excited to try the real authentic Hungarian goulash, unfortunately ended up in a bit of a disappointment. It seems here it is more of a soup then what we think of as a goulash, and at the restaurant we chose, the 'soup' was not very flavourful. The rest of the day we spent trying to set up plans for our rent a car and went shopping at a local market so we could have dinner in. We bought our first bottle of Hungarian white wine, trying to please both of us which is challenging given Shelley is a sweet white wine drinker and I enjoy my wine on the dry side. It turned out we chose well and enjoyed our first bottle of white for under $7. Can't beat that! We were getting fed up with the car rental prices when Shelley suddenly wondered if all of her credit card points would get us something. After registering for her points redemption and then following the link provided we got our car booked with money to spare for some other place. Now we were ready for wine country from the 7th-10th.

On day 2 we jumped on the tram (sans ticket) to the chain bridge to walk over to the Buda side of the river. After taking the funicular up to the castle we were disappointed that we couldn't get in to see anything due to the capital city's preparation for the annual wine festival to be held while we were in their actual wine region Tokaj. We walked to a spectacular church called St. Matthias and wandered around for quite a while. Beautiful church with an exhibition of the last king and queen of Hungary's story. We had a delicious meal at Jamie Oliver's restaurant and bought food for dinner on the way back to the apartment.

On day 3 we drove to Tokaj for our stay in the famous sweet white wine region. Kellie and her son Eli know wines. Me not so much. But we knew before we left we would visit. Little did I know that this region produces the most famous sweet white wines so as the driver my wine tasting has to be pretty regulated. Rats! We stopped at a nice little winery where we found out about the local aszu wines which are made after botrytis has infected the grapes. Now as a gardener, botrytis is something you don't want and I have battled botrytis with fungicides in the past. Here it is prized as it produces a product found nowhere else in the world. The sugars and the acidity are so well balanced that the sweetness is not overwhelming. I tried a very expensive tasting of eszencia wine (200 Euro a bottle) which is absolutely delicious. It is the residual nectar dripping from the aszu wine barrels, collected and aged up to 20 years. Holy apricot honey flavour! The pictures we will post will show the "noble" mold in the cellars which is created by temperature, humidity and the release of alcohol from the barrels. This symbiotic relationship produces the wines and only the Rhine area of Germany produces a similar noble mould.

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Posted by kelshell 20:02 Archived in Hungary Comments (1)

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