Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oasis

After the heat and general confusion of Szeged, I've reached my little oasis on the Hungarian plain yesterday - Gyula. I'm here for a couple days so I can relax a little after a couple long travel days. What a nice little town, especially after all the bumpy back roads the bus rattled over to get here. I'm not too far from Romania at the moment and actually would have ended up there yesterday if the bus hadn't a last minute turn. The countryside was flat as Saskatchewan and I saw seemingly endless miles of corn and wheat fields along the way.

Gyula is turning out to be a very pedestrian-friendly little place with some interesting sights. It boasts a compact 15th century castle that I checked out yesterday. Considering how invasion-prone this area has been throughout history I'm quite impressed with the castle's condition. Perhaps the place was so small it wasn't deemed worth the trouble of attacking it. This is also one of the few castles I've visited that isn't built on a high hill so my knees are rejoicing.

My hotel is a bit rustic perhaps but it has a lot of character. Anyhow, my room faces the canal which meant a very restless sleep last night. This morning I visited a Romanian Orthodox Church along with a couple museums. One was a 19th century house of a well-to-do bourgeois family and the second was the birthplace of a Hungarian composer, Ferenc Erkel, of which I know very little but he was the man that wrote the music for the country's national anthem.

Having seen all the big sights, I plan to loaf around this afternoon after a good meal, do a little reading perhaps and of course look forward to the coming week which should put me up into the northeastern part of the country. There are at least a couple more castles I look forward to seeing, plus I will soon be visiting the towns of Tokaj and Eger, well-known in Europe for the great wines they produce.

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