Danube Odyssey, Part 3
Visit to Holloko Farming Village
We arose at 7 a.m. for an elaborate (and included) breakfast buffet at the Hilton Hotel. I had ham with bacon and eggs, sliced bananas,
|Betty (left) at Szentendre lace shop|
|Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo
The village's records date to the 14th Century. It is in a hilly area well off the beaten track. Snow that had fallen overnight was here and there. Holloko has a population of about 550. Its narrow, stone streets have been preserved to give the village an authentic look of long-gone times.
We saw five middle-aged women wearing traditional folk costumes that included high, leather boots. They sang and danced for a colorful presentation in the village meeting house. I was one of the few men who joined them for one folk dance. Our local guide, a woman named Maria who wore a full-length fur coat, told us about the Apostolic Cross atop the tiny Roman Catholic Church that still functions during twice-weekly visits by a priest.
The village roofs - like an estimated 60 percent of the roofs in Hungary - are covered with baked clay shingles. Those in the village appear to be quite old due to the moss and accumulated grime on them. We were told that most of the adults in the village work on the black farmland in the area and sell surplus crops such as tomatoes. As residents age and die, the village acquires their homes for public uses such as craftsmaking places. We visited one former house that now serves as a needlework and weaving location.
Betty and I were among a party of 10 who enjoyed lunch in a village home. The housewife cooked a tasty consomme soup made with noodles, chicken and carrots; baked chicken drumsticks in a paprika sauce; cooked cabbage; delicious apple strudel and a glass of white wine. We were also served a shot of schnapps and a glass of carbonated water. With us were a couple from Stockton, Calif.; a couple from South Carolina; and a couple from Michigan. The host couple's English skills were quite limited but their smiles were broad. Oddly, people who used the toilet were directed to a bathtub in another room to wash their hands.
The afternoon bus ride back to our hotel was marked by a light rain and medium traffic. Several of our fellow travelers napped during the ride, but sleep was elusive for me. We were back in our hotel room by 3:30 p.m., ending an interesting excursion into the countryside. I was struck at how dim
|Hilltop view of Budapest, Danube River|
|Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo
That evening, a couple of dozen cruise passengers who also signed up for the "Evening in Budapest" excursion ($69) were taken by bus to a fancy restaurant on a hillside overlooking what we were told was the most expensive real estate in the city. We had a grand view of the old Royal Palace, spotlighted Parliament building and a gloriously lighted bridge over the Danube River. The restaurant name was the Busulo Jugasz (roughly translates to "Sad Shepherd.")
Our group occupied two large tables pushed together. We were entertained by a four-piece, gypsy string band. One of the members of our group, Jane Dugan of Cincinnati, turned out to be a talented singer and a former music teacher. She sang several classical songs to widespread admiration and appreciation.
Ours was a preset table, served by tuxedo-clad waiters. We had a white cloth-covered table that was elegantly set with crystal and silverware. The delicious meal included traditional Hungarian goulash, hot peppers, an array of breads, pork medallions cooked in wine sauce with sliced potatoes, fresh vegetables and a piece of incredibly rich, chocolate cake and glasses of champagne and both red and white wines.
The meal was wonderful and we thought it might well prove to be the best of the trip marked by great food. It was.