We leave exactly at 9:30am. Don't be late!
9:15am we meet in Keleti railway station in Budapest. The thought is noble: a group of six adventurers will take a train in the middle of nowhere to a tiny little town in the wine region, recommended to us by our friend László.
The train was supposed to leave at 9:30am, giving all of us a chance to fill our tummies with a slice of locally made pepperoni pizza and to wrestle with the ticket machine. After wandering back and forth between the platforms we "barely" made it to the train. I am being sarcastic here because we ended up waiting for almost 50 minutes for the vehicle to move even an inch.
With good company it is not a problem however. We learned about Rembrandt lighting and how male ostriches attract their female counterparts with their signature dance when it's that time of the year. Thus the inside jokes for the day were commenced.
After the conductor gave us a lengthy explanation of why the delays happened, fully in beautiful Hungarian of course, our journey began. We later asked for a translation from a local guy. It turns out that the area, where we were going towards, had an unexpected amount of snow fall during the night. The locals said they had not seen that much snow in the past 20 years.
We arrived in Eger, happy and hungry.
A few hours and one train change later we arrive in a smallish town that greeted us with a beautiful Spar, a grocery store chain, which ended up being of strategic importance on our departure. It was indeed snowy, as well as slippery, affecting the sense of gravity of even the most experienced of Estonians.
All this work of keeping balance made us feel hungry. So we started exploring the area with Dr. Google's assistant to find a local restaurant type of thingy. The place we ended up going to was decorated as if the owner's idol was a dark Elmer Fudd from the Looney Tunes.
We went to a castle.
After our bellies were filled with juicy chicken fillets and duck thingies – that is literally how they called the dish in their menu – we set our ways to explore the top of the castle in the middle of Eger. In addition, our fellowship was joined by another member, the infamous László who gave us the idea in the first place.
He told us a few short stories of the place: how the Hungarians fought the Turks and how some of the population lived in an underground city built right underneath Eger. I bet there was a lot of history involved in this area, however seeing that the clock handles were aggressively moving towards sunset time, I could not wait to see the view and the colours waiting for us at the top instead.
When we got up, we were greeted by an amazing view over the whole little town.
We had a few more hours before we had to take the last train back to Budapest. László now unravelled the real reason why anyone would want to come to Eger in the first place. There is a spa about a 15 minute taxi ride away that has a massive geothermal hot tub next to a mountain of salt. Unfortunately, since we were short on time, I could not take any snaps of the place, but for the interested, you can google "Egerszalók" to get an idea of what the place looks like.
Two hours was more than enough to really get a feeling of relaxation. It was time to head back to Budapest.
Would I recommend going to Eger? Absolutely, especially if you like wine – turns out the place is a wine region producing famous Hungarian red wines – and spas. I would have loved to stay here for the full weekend and I can imagine the place being even more beautiful in the summer. But even a quick trip in the winter was a great way to see a little more of Hungary than just its capital.