Hungary, oh Hungary. Small, yet stubborn. Glorious, yet worn down. Beautiful landscapes and delicious food. Have you ever, during your travels, felt so oddly at home in a foreign country? This is what Hungary is like for me. I remember when I visited Hungary for the first time. That was many, many years ago. I was sitting in a car, the sun was shining and the windows were open. The fresh air breathed on my face and I was surrounded by silence. The silence was tangible there under the clear blue sky watching over the puszta. That was the moment that I fell in love with Hungary.
Here I have collected the four great reasons to love that small Central-European state.
Hungary Is the Hungarians
All the Hungarians I have ever met have been kind, friendly, and crazy. They are helpful and talkative, and proud. Crazy in the positive kind of sense. The pálinka flows and delicious food is served wherever you go. There will be a party somewhere soon. It is a country where life has not been easy and it seems to me that people have found a way to cope with the harshness of life. One thing is sure, you will not be bored when hanging out with Hungarians.
You have probably heard of Goulash. However, Hungarian food is so much more than this spicy stew. Palacsinta (pancakes or crepes) is a personal favourite of mine, especially the Hortobágyi palacsinta, a savoury crepe filled with veal stew. However, there are many other culinary wonders one should taste when visiting Hungary. Typical features of the Hungarian cuisine are soups, spices, different types of meats (often mixed together), cakes and desserts, as well as cold fruit soup.
All the Things One Can Do In Hungary
Hungary may be a small country, but there are plenty of places to visit. Budapest with all its attractions is the most obvious destination for tourists. However, there are many picturesque towns all around the country. Eger, located 110 kilometers north-east of Budapest, is famous for its wines, historical buildings and baths. It’s within easy reach from Budapest and so it perfect for a day trip. For even more wine, one can visit the famous wine district Tokaj-Hegyalja in the northern part of the country. Other interesting places for a visit are Sopron near the Austrian border, the ancient town of Győr, as well as the old capital Debrecen. Another town that is worth a visit is Esztergom, one of the oldest towns in Hungary and its first capital. The national park Hortobágy is a part of the Alföld (Great Plain) and it is located in the eastern part of the country. Being rich with folklore and cultural history, it is a world heritage site.
Places that I haven’t been to but would love to visit include former European capital of culture Pécs, Szeged and central Kecskemét. Lake Balaton is apparently a must among tourists and locals alike in summer, or so they say.
Literature & Language
Hungarian is considered one of the most difficult languages in the world. Together with Finnish, Estonia and Euskara, it is one of the few European languages that does not belong to the Indo-European language family. For language nerds, Hungarian is a very rewarding language to learn. You might not have much use for it – it’s a main language only in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, but you will most definitely feel accomplished if you learn it.
Now, I do realize that not everyone wants to learn a language just for the sake of it. There are a lot of great Hungarian writers that I would like to recommend. Only one Hungarian has won the Nobel prize in literature. Imre Kertész was given the prize in 2002 with the following motivation: “”for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”. There are some notable Hungarian poets, including the national poet Sándor Petőfi. He was a liberal revolutionary and one of the key figures in the Hungarian revolution of 1848.
E kettő kell nekem,
These two I need.
For my love I’ll sacrifice
For liberty I’ll sacrifice
Sándor Márai is one of my favourite Hungarian novelists. Two interesting writers from the 20th century are György Faludy and Gyula Krúdy. One of the most famous names of contemporary Hungarian literature is Péter Esterházy. István Örkény is famous for his one minute stories and is considered the “master of the Middle-European grotesque”.
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