With the flick of a switch, a world of stainless steel, glass and concrete appeared. My wife Anita and I had just entered the low profile structure with Tamás Gincsai, winemaker for Holdvölgy. It was a soggy February morning in Mád, a village in north east Hungary’s famed Tokaj Wine Region. Now illuminated, I noticed the almost surgical construction of the room.
A little over a year ago my wife and I moved to Hungary. Moving from Southern California meant a massive change in culture, climate and lifestyle. We sought a simpler, slower life and to re-connect with my wife’s family after 8 years in the U.S.
I consider myself to be pretty open-minded when it comes to food. How about some heart, liver, brain or tongue? Let’s dig in. Perhaps a little gizzard, cockle, tripe, ear, snout, tendon and blood sausage? Sounds good. Frog legs, escargot, fermented duck egg? Sure, why not.
Remember reading about the wonders of the world under the covers with a flashlight? Remember when, as a child, your imagination could take you anywhere? I do. As a boy, ancient temples, monasteries and tombs fascinated me. I wanted to be an explorer, an archaeologist and 007 all rolled into one….
If you know anything about the Hungarian language, you know it’s notoriously difficult. Most experts peg Magyarul (Hungarian) as being somewhere between the 3rd-7th hardest language to learn. Much of this difficulty comes from the fact that Hungarian has no connection to Indo-European languages. But that’s a story for another day.
If you’ve been following this blog you’re aware that I write about Hungarian destinations and culture. I tell stories about wineries, cities and people in those places who are up to something. This week is different. Today I’m writing about Klaudia Kun and her parents’ dedication to helping others in need. Her father, Attila Kun, is my wife’s cousin. Over the years we’ve become good friends, in fact I’d say he’s one of my closest friends here in Hungary. I’ve met some inspiring people in my life, but Attila and his wife Kata might just top the list.
Known primarily for its industrious past, today Miskolc is evolving into a legitimate destination for travelers. While this city of 170,000 is still recovering from the disastrous collapse of communism, its proximity to the gorgeous Bükk National Park and the truly unique Miskolc-Tapolca Cave Bath, make it an attractive escape from the tourist trail.
I hadn’t expected to be drinking at 10:00 in the morning. Yet somehow it all seemed quite natural considering my surroundings. My wife Anita and I were in Budapest’s Central Market Hall on a culinary walk with Taste Hungary, a tour company specializing in Hungarian food and wine. Minutes earlier our guide Elza, a bubbly woman in her twenties with lively brown eyes, had just given our group a summary of Hungarian history.
It would be easy to label the burgeoning creative scene in Budapest’s District VII as merely just another hipster fad. In fact many do. Yet when walking around District VII (the old Jewish neighborhood) in this eclectic metropolis, one becomes aware of two things: young Hungarians are an incredibly creative bunch, and the proliferation of funky shops and bars here is more a a case of working with what you’ve got than a passing trend. Last week I took a tour of this ever-changing neighborhood with BudapestFlow….
The water wasn’t quite what I had expected. It was luke-warm, not luxuriously hot like the thermal springs in California. After about two minutes though, this didn’t matter one bit. It was 2005 and my first visit to Hungary. Anita, my girlfriend at the time (now my wife), had been eager to show me the Miskolc-Tapolca Cave Bath—I soon found out why. There we were, gazing up at the white limestone cliffs soaring out of the water. Gaping passageways beckoned, carved into rock by thousands of years of flowing thermal water. Beneath a massive glass atrium people of all shapes and sizes lay about on lounge chairs, swam in the healing waters and gazed in awe at the caves….