Years Back - Hungary

As we drove east though Slovakia from Bratislava the flat, productive, farmland was interrupted every 6-10 miles by towns. The farmland is all under cultivation but there aren't farmhouses anywhere. Every few miles there are still large cooperative barn areas holding the machinery for thousands of acres of land. Seems to be left over from the Soviet occupation.

Interesting to see many Trabants made in East Germany on the roads in Hungary. Lots of Ladas also. Slovakia was full of Skodas and the occasional Dacia but no Trabants. Polski Fiats are in both countries.

A pork cutlet Szentendre style is covered in grated potatoes and then deep fried. Crunchy and delicious.

It wouldn't be right without a panorama of Pest from the Buda side of the Danube.
Brewpubs in Budapest:

Kaltenberg Etterem is a new brewpub/restaurant about 5 miles west of the the city center down a side street but only a block from the M3 Metro and the inside ring tram line. It's owned by Kaltenberg of Germany and that really shows. Located in the basement, it's a BIG place. Four tourist busses outside were absorbed with no problem and plenty of seating and suited waiters left over. Brick arched ceilings and old-German dark wood are illuminated only by yellow lights - very brauhaus looking. The strolling violin, guitar, and accordion in the evening added to the effect but they played lots of waltzes of course.

It's a new brewpub by European standards only, opened in 1985.

We stopped in the afternoon and tried the Helles, being told not to try the Dunkle by the waiter. He even brought two Helles when we insisted on one of each. Went back to eat in the evening and finally got the Dunkle. Odd.Beers are 660 HUF ($3.32) for a liter and half that for a half liter.
  • Helles - Slightly salty sea aroma. Very fresh. Nice beer.
  • Dunkle - Nothing wrong with it at all. Quite black. If somebody told me it is a porter, I'd believe them. Maybe not top-fermented but it bears no family resemblance to their Helles.
Gerbeaud has been a Budapest institution in downtown since it started as a confectionary and tea house in 1858. Small sandwiches and salads are the noonday faire along with sweets, tortes, ice cream, sor (beer) and apertifs. A block from the Danube directly outside the M1 Metro station - easy to find.

The downstairs brewhouse located in the evening pub makes just one beer, Gerbeaud Csapoly, available only fass (on draught). It's a vilagos pilsei (light pils) that is hoppy and middle of the road.

BUT we cannot recommend anyone ever go to this place. We were warned by various guidebooks that downtown restaurants will cheat their customers with inflated bills. Didn't expect it at a classy brewpub though. We were surprised to be charged over $30 US for a salad, a thin ham sandwich, a beer, and a bottle of lemon ice tea. Especially when they added up to about half that (still pricey) on the menu. They added a 15% charge for something unexplained (maybe VAT?) and another 25% for something else unexplained. The waitress then haughtily pointed out that the tip was not included in that total. Stiffed her. Wouldn't go back and don't suggest you do.

In Pecs, try Gambrinus Sorozo two blocks south of the main square on Terez Utca. Seems to be the best beer bar in town with 4 taps.

Beers we tried recently:
  • Amstel Bock (a bottle delivered when we ordered Kaiser Dark which they were out of) - Brewed in Soporon, Hungary. Brown, same color as the brown glass. Quite hoppy. Noticably a bock but not really bocky, more schwartzy. 7%.
  • Topvar Barna - In Pecs on tap. Fully opaque brown. Fine roasty porter. Malty sweetness and good balancing hops that are not overpowering. Really roasty. Import this beer. We believe it's made in Topolcany, Hungary. Please, someone do some research on these porterish Hungarian beers. Thanks.
  • Pesci Szaslon Barna - On tap at the street fair. 16oz cup for $1.60. Big carbonation and very cold. Milder than the Topvar Barna with only traces of roasty. This one is a surely a thick dunkel lager.
  • Pesci Szalon Pils - On tap at Gambrinus. Fresh sweet green apple notes. In great condition. Hoppy enough to match the sweetness in the back end but not much more.

The Pesci Sorofozdebor (brewery) promoted themselves in Pecs by delivering
beer by horse. Thought of Upland's Maibock unveiling when I saw this.

Down the road we passed across a small museum icon on a sign and turned left off the main road. A half-mile along there was a large parking lot and a nuclear power plant - as evidenced by the sign "radioactiv". Never did see a museum but the gate to the plant was sure interesting.

For one, it wasn't visibly guarded at all. (At one nuclear power plant in Kentucky we tried to visit last year we were greeted by two guys with shotguns who told us the museum was closed and we should turn around and go away).

The real highlight was the sign at the gate (enlarged unedited at right). Gotta love that "No Bombs" part of the sign. But why "No Coffee"? We just can't make this stuff up.

We visited the Labyrinth up on Castle Hill on the west side of the Danube. It's a tongue-in-cheek walk through a series of chambers built partly in natural caves under the castle that were used in WWII just once as an air-raid shelter. A one-mile walk through this dimly lit area is fun and spooky with only an issued oil lamp for illumination in many places.

We found this room by smell. An ivy-covered flowing wine fountain.
Didn't try the wine though, no cup.
Don't know how the ivy grows underground either.

Statues in Pecs don't have headaches but they are continually checking their deodorant.
Found a street fair in Pecs. Probably occurs every weekend. The highlight was bread tubes - pie dough striped over rolling pin-sized forms and cooked on a spit over an open flame. Sugar is sifted onto them when warm. Delicious but no doubt thousands of calories.

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