Central Europe was rather warm last weekend. We could either be hot in Vienna, or be hot somewhere else. Budapest won the coin toss.
With autumn in the air over the weekend, naturally a road trip would follow. Not that we ever need a reason. The inspiration for this particular outing was a chestnut festival in Hungary; thinking it would be a small event, I planned for us to see a few other sights in the area, as well.
After a horrible week of feeling taken advantage of by AIS parents, a getaway from the selfishness was just what I needed, and so to a friend’s restored wine press weekend house in Hungary a group of us gathered for good food, great wine, and fun at the flea markets in and around Budapest. At dusk we were treated to bats swooping about, and even a den of fox flitting across the paths. Just what I needed.
Almost always we elect to leave Austria on Sundays because the country is closed. We have auto vignettes to visit all of the neighbors, and I keep individual pocketbooks with Czech Koruna and Hungarian Forint leftover from previous outings, so all we really needed was a destination with good dining not too far away. Sopron came to mind; after all, we would likely be “hungary” when we arrived. Punny, I know.
Sopron is a terribly interesting city. Following the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sopron was initially awarded to Austria. This didn’t sit well with the locals, who voted in 1921 to return to Hungary. In 1945, the border city was heavily attacked by the Russians and nearly destroyed.
Yep, Zander for me. Again. Thick, chunky filets lightly battered and served with lemon. Yum.
The extensive gardens of the estate made for a nice way to walk off our hearty Hungarian lunch. Near to the estate was a siege of white herons! A lovely way to end our outing.
Down but not out, we decided to visit the museum and plan a new re-con afterwards. Back into Slovakia we went. The Danubiana never fails to disappoint, and the combination of modern art and the warm breezes from the Danube made our spirits happy.
In short order after lunch we crossed into Austria via back roads. Obviously this crossing did not exist during the Cold War; in fact, the crossing is so unremarkable that Slovakia didn’t even bother with a sign!
Thankfully this informational placard could explain some of the Druid-like constructions along the boundaries.
Bouquets from the previous days’ wedding, charmingly at rest.
The Austrian flag is striking, I think. The design for the flag dates to the early 1200’s and Leopold V, Duke of Austria’s return from the battlefield. Though his battledress was soaked with blood, the area under his belt was white. There you have it.
Along this route we whipped past a sign reading, “Isrealitische Freidhof” and made a detour. The customary signage is for a “Jüdische Freidhof.” The gate was locked, though it was possible to peer over the walls. Nearly 400 Jews were deported from this town as early as 1938.
Old Jewish cemeteries around here make me sad, as it’s not likely that many descendants are visiting.
Storks! I never tire of seeing these magnificent birds.
Nearing the border with Hungary we found abandoned border patrol barracks, stripped to the foundation.
The House of Esterhazy was the premier landowner of the Kingdom of Hungary and they were in good, very good, standing with the Habsburgs.
During WWII the Esterhazy Family scattered; after 1945 the Hungarian government confiscated the property for its use. A foundation established by the wife of the last ruling Esterhazy Prince now helps preserve the cultural heritage of the family.
Making our way home we spied Burg Forchenstein in the distance. This, too, is an (Austrian) Esterhazy holding since 1622, except for a couple of hundred years when the Habsburgs held it. 17th century home exchange, if you will.
The castle sits on a hilltop, and even has a moat!
Oh, and I did purchase the Paprika at a farm stand near Esterhazy Kastely, right before dropping in a local Etterem for the lunch special of deer stew. My kind of grocery run.
Across the southeastern border and into Budapest we went early Saturday morning, to cheer on the AIS Knights in the five-school Track & Field exchange hosted by AIS Budapest.
St. Stephans, so named for the patron saint of Hungary.
So, how does Budapest compare to Paris when it comes to food? Our first lunch of Gulyás was tres magnifique, as was every meal thereafter.