The plan for today was a day trip to the town of Eger, around 100 miles to the northeast of Budapest. It's supposed to be one of the most beautiful towns in Hungary, so when we were planning the holiday we were keen to build it into our itinerary. I was flicking through the guidebook over breakfast to refresh my memory of what I wanted to see, and Tim volunteered to take a photo of the map of Eger town centre, so that we could consult it more easily while we were on the go. He glanced at the map and immediately saw... this!
Wow, it seems there is an Esperanto street in Eger
...and it was pretty inside too, with a big glass roof.
Finding the station was no problem at all but I was worried that once we got there, buying a ticket might turn out to be a challenge. It turned out that there were ticket machines, which helpfully removed the need to try and communicate in Hungarian The Hungarian ticketing system seems a bit complicated, as we had to pay a basic price for the fare to Eger and then various supplements depending on which train we were travelling on. The ticket machine printed out a whole host of small slips of paper covered in Hungarian, which we couldn't make head nor tail out of. Tim put them all in his wallet and we hoped for the best. It cost around £7 each per direction, which didn't seem too bad considering it was a journey of around two hours.
There actually aren't many direct trains between Budapest and Eger every day, so we needed to change trains in a place called Füzesabony. We arrived there just before 11am, having spent the past 90 minutes predominately travelling past fields and fields of sunflowers While we were consulting the departures board to try and work out which platform our connection to Eger would be departing on, I was slightly unnerved to see this poster which seemed to be warning about bears. Hopefully it wasn't announcing that they were parading down the main street in Eger
The journey from Füzesabony was only 20 minutes or so. Our slips of paper had passed the multiple ticket inspections that had taken place, and so we successfully arrived in Eger around 11.30. The station is located a bit outside of the main town, and so our first task was to try and find the centre. Luckily, there were plenty of helpfully signs pointing towards "Centrum" and we were soon strolling through a leafy park in what seemed to be the right direction.
As we got nearer to the town centre, we decided we wanted to try and track down the Esperanto road. On the map it looked like it was running alongside a river. Could it be here? There was a footpath alongside this river, but we couldn't find any evidence of a street sign so we weren't 100% sure.
The path took us right into the middle of the town anyway, and immediately things started to look very pretty.
We were now in the main square, Dobó tér.
The square is home to one of Eger's many churches. This one is known as the Minorite church.
The other large building in the square is Eger's town hall.
In the middle of the square there is a large statue of István Dobó, who famously defended the fortress at Eger from the Ottomans in 1552.
From the far end of the square, you can get a view up towards what remains of the fortress.
It was a boiling hot day so we stopped in the square for a drink and then continued through the colourful streets of Eger...
...until we reached the town's cathedral.
The cathedral is huge and it is painted a beautiful shade of yellow
Yellow seemed to be a popular colour in Eger actually. We found a second yellow church...
...and also this yellow Franciscan monastery.
But there were some churches which weren't yellow too
The town centre is quite compact and we were soon nearly back to the main square, so we decided to start looking for somewhere to have lunch.
There were quite a lot of restaurants, and happily the menus seemed to be in German, English and Polish as well as Hungarian, so it didn't take us long to find somewhere we like the look of. While I went for a more traditional spaghetti bolognese, Tim decided to try another local meal; this time pork tenderloin with some type of Hungarian potatoes.
We also tried some of the local wine (which was delicious, though very sweet) and felt brave enough to try some Hungarian desserts. Tim went for cheesecake...
...while I tried something that was translated on the English menu as 'sponge cake', but which turned out to be more like a Hungarian variation on the theme of tiramisu.
After lunch we decided to have another attempt at finding an Esperanto street sign. It turned out we had only walked along part of the riverside path earlier, and when we began walked down it in the opposite direction Tim soon caught sight of this sign
With that mission accomplished, the main site remaining for us to visit in Eger was the castle.
The entrance fee was 1,700 forints each (around £4.60). As soon as we had walked through the gates and paid, we started to get a great view out over the town.
We could see the church in the main square and the cathedral further behind it.
It turns out that there isn't that much left to see of the castle itself.
Although it was successfully defended in 1552, the Ottomans returned in 1596 and this time the castle was handed over to them, signalling the start of nearly a century of Turkish rule over Eger. The Ottomans were expelled in 1687, but parts of the castle were then destroyed by the Austrians in 1701 in response to a local rebellion.
It was worth coming up here for the views anyway
Soon it was time to head back to the station for our train to Budapest. We stopped by Esperanto street for one last photo...
...and thought that was our Esperanto experiences over with for the day. Imagine our surprise when on the walk back from Keleti station to our apartment, a plaque on the wall caught my eye...
The plaque announces that the Esperanto author Julio Baghy lived in this house from 1917 to 1966
It was a surprising end to what has been a fun day. Tomorrow, if all goes well with the trains, we will be travelling onwards to the town of Keszthely on Lake Balaton.