Budapest, Hungary – Europe Day 34 – June 30

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We got up early today, had a quick breakfast, and caught the train into Egers, a small town outside of Budapest, that’s known for its wine caves. The town itself was nothing special for us, but apparently its the mecca of Hungarian history, with school groups making pilgrimages there daily. Hungary’s Alamo is there, where a small group of Hungarians, vastly outnumbered, held off an attacking army. We took a cab from the town center to the wine caves region of Eger. It was a bizarre little place, like a wine tasting amusement park, as Rob described it.

There was a little row of doors and storefronts etched into the cliff face with each one offering a different wine tasting. The first one was basically a small cafe and nothing special. We paid about fifty cents each for a glass of wine. The second place involved walking down some stone steps into a full-on cave. Rob and I were the only two customers and the woman working was ecstatic to see us. We each tried about 5 half glasses, apparently, they don’t do taster glasses here, lucky us. Rob and I bought a bottle, and everything included it was about $5 each. The next place we found we almost walked past, unlike the rest, it wasn’t a store or a cafe. It was just a pair of green steel doors leading into the cliff face, guarded by a fat Hungarian in sweatpants. We pantomimed if we could come in. He mimed back yes and we entered. Inside there were no tables or benches, cheeses or pictures of Hungary, just a dozen barrels of wine, aging in this mysterious cave. Our host used a giant pipette to siphon out two glasses of wine straight from the barrel. This is by far the most authentic wine experience I’ve ever had.

Our third stop was another cafe type place. We each had six half glasses here and it didn’t cost us a penny.The last place was a storefront, with the cave behind it. The owner also ran a local vineyard with the help of his three beautiful daughters. This seems like the setup to a joke, but it isn’t. The wine was good, the owner gave us a pamphlet and didn’t charge us and we left.

Overall, it was a great day. Rob and I napped for the two hours it took to get back to Budapest. We got to the hostel in time to catch a bunch of people going out to Morrison’s a bar downtown, based on how much fun we had last night, we had to go.

We took the tram to the bar, and who should I find drinking absinthe in front of the bar? It was Cooper from the other night. He joined our group and we all went in for drinks, dancing, and traditional Hungarian spirits. The bar was awesome. It was 5 stories. You walked in onto an open courtyard with several alcoves off of it, some with bars and others with dance areas. There were two floors above the courtyard with more bars and a fancier atmosphere. I never went up. Beneath the courtyard was a basement level playing house music and below that another basement that I also didn’t go down to. I found out about half these floors afterward. Rob and I spent most of the night talking with Cooper and these two girls from Budapest that work for “Carning” I think. The company makes glass for iPhones, and they worked in accounting. At the end of the night, Rob and I walked back to the hostel to get some sleep so we could catch our train to Zagreb at 6am.