Eastern Europe, Day 9 – Thursday, May 23, 2019

Eger, Hungary

After seven hours of sleep, we awoke refreshed. Katerina offered  all of us a choice of spending the morning either going to town to explore on our own, or staying at the hotel. Most of our travel mates chose to explore the town, but we opted to remain at the hotel. At 11:45 AM both groups met Katerina at the Dobó Monument (István Dobó saved Eger from the Ottomans in 1541).

From there we walked to a school in which we would be visiting  a fifth grade class. We settled in and listened to the children as they worked on their English. Then some eighth graders came into the room.  Each of the students  joined a small group of us, and we all proceeded to ask and answer questions. The boy who chatted with us, “Bali,” (it translates to Valentine), spoke English well as he told us about his life and his studies. We discovered that many of the students had a lot of  European travel  and language experience, which makes sense because Hungary is surrounded by six other countries, each with its own language.

We ate lunch in the school cafeteria with the students. They were quite  polite, handing us our  trays.  I was  very impressed by their behavior.  I was familiar with the lunchtime behavior, or should I say misbehavior, of the students in the New York City schools in which I taught many  years ago, but the the atmosphere here was quite different. The children were very calm. Everyone was served the same food: soup, chicken with couscous, and cake for dessert. They all enjoyed their meal as they chatted with their friends. No teacher ever blew a whistle to get their attention.

We boarded our bus for our next activity, a wine tasting about half an hour away. Hungary produces many good wines, which worked well for those of us who preferred wine to beer.  Anita, the classroom teacher, came with us, as she was to be our guide for the wine tasting. There were seven kinds of wine.  As we learned about them, we were entertained by Toni Váradi, a marvelous violinist who played many songs with which we were familiar. I absolutely loved hearing one of our group members, an actor, sing the role of  Tevye while Toni played from Fiddler on the Roof.

Then, we were given a dance lesson, and something that was great fun happened. We all danced together in a circle as Toni played Hungarian music. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of this, because everyone danced including Nick. After dancing, we all got together for a group photo.

After a visit to the wine cellar, it was time to board the bus. Our destination was the Andressy Hotel in the Pest part of Budapest. After some down time, we had an orientation on our way to dinner at Cafe Central, which included taking  the Metro to get there. I ordered the chicken and Nick, the fish. Oops, the chicken had  a goat cheese sauce, which is  something  I  don’t enjoy, so Nick and I exchanged plates.  In each country we had learned  for what or whom the city was famous.  Here the “who” was Erno Rubik, the inventor of Rubik’s cube, and some of the “whats” are wine, desserts, and of course, paprika.

We arrived back in our hotel room with enough time to do some laundry. Although some send their laundry out to be done (Katarina knew how to get this accomplished in each  country), it is customary for  Rick Steves tour participants to wear quick-drying clothes that can be washed in the hotel room sink, and that will be dry the next day. We had enjoyed another full and delightful day.

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