Sunday, January 15, 2006

"The Fervent Mouse" (Heves and Eger)

First person to get the title scores brownie points.

Contrary to my earlier predictions (suspicions), the weekend turned out to be a relatively non-dramatic one. There were, however, multiple adventures such as fogwalks, bussing shenanigans, a hostel on a hill, wine tasting, 10 liters of wine in two gasoline jugs, a midnight walk over a sketchy pipe “bridge” and down a long, dark windy road, a mutiny and a revolution, hot baths and freezing air, two people with massive bruises, and various other hijinks.

So that’s the weekend in a nutshell. The detailed version goes as follows: Gaines arrived on Friday just before 3, and we made a mad dash through the trains station to buy lángos. We met up with Chad and all three of us got on the same bus to Heves. Jeremos met us at the station - not beer in hand as promised, but close enough. Harpswell arrived shortly after, but at the other bus station. We picked her up and headed back to Jeremos’s place. Small, but nice. Of all the flats I’ve seen, I would say his gets the Best Decorated award.

Some point later in the evening, we decided to talk a walk. Mostly for the sake of meeting Janos at the train station. It was ridiculously foggy and beautiful outside, and the walk was the better part of half an hour, each way. At some point, Gaines, Chad and I fell behind, so we never actually saw the station. We did become intimately acquainted with a field, a tree, and the line of brush which separated us from the station.

Soon after arriving home, the boys darted across the street to check out the non-bar (I think Jeremy said it was some sort of after-school club or something?). They found nothing there, so they, Gaines and I headed out to partake in the Heves nightlife. Meaning, we went to the bar. Jeremy and Janos tried their hand at darts. We explored the dance floor, which was a big, cold, lightless room at the back. Eventually, the bad music and general lack of both entertainment and sustainable drunkenness drove us home. Chad had found some new friends who were buying him drinks, so he chose to stay (free drinks? Who wouldn’t?).

In the morning, after way too much argument and discussion, Janos and Jeremos ran to the store and bought a selection of breakfast foods. We ate fast and headed to the bus station for the second leg of the journey: onward to Eger.

Having time to kill, we wandered around, down through the Cathedral, and met up with Kyle at McDonalds.

Imagine this street, 83 years later, and with the Golden Arches somewhere on the right side.

Um... where was I? Right, various others arrived at the train and bus stations. Some stayed to wait for later-comers, I headed with the group towards Egerszalók, a little village in a valley near Eger. After a brief jaunt in the wrong direction, we found a helpful old lady who was completely unfazed by the group of luggage-laden American tourists and set us on the right path.

And despite being up a massive hill, the Kohári Pince was totally worth it. We had rooms and rooms of space to ourselves, a bed for everyone (although, of course, it wouldn’t really be a CETP get-together without some sort of dog-pile), kitchen and bathroom for each room, and one bigger room where we congregated for dinner and drinking.

As we waited for the other half to arrive, we did a bit of wine tasting, and ended up buying two massive jugs of wine to have for later. Our conversation with the proprietor went something like this:

Us: Can we pay for the wine we tasted?
Him: No, no, it’s on the house.
Us: Great! Then can we buy some wine?
Him: To take away? For later?
Us: Ha ha... yeah, later (tonight is later, right?)
Him: Of course. How much would you like?
Us: Um... a lot. (How much do we need?) Maybe 10 liters?
Him: (Is there any way possible for me to record his expression at this point? Some combination of bemused, gleeful, and just a tad startled.) Of course.
Us: And how much will it be?
Him: 5000 forint.

So that’s $25 for more than 13 bottles of wine. NICE!! And we did manage to polish off almost 8 of those liters (I adopted those two orphan liters this morning). We hung out in the big room, made piles and piles of spaghetti, and eventually the others showed up. Altogether, we were 12: myself, Chad, Gaines, Jeremos, Janos, Harpswell, Laura, Jenna, Mariah, Mark (the other American from Kisvárda), Brent, and Kyle.

We stayed and ate and drank and talked at Kohári for quite a while. My favorite part was after Jeremos reenacted the cabinet-sleeping story, the two of us sat up there for a good long time, chatting and playing God. We had an awesome experiment planned, but the party started to break up. So we hopped down, he much more gracefully than I (but hardly a fair comparison, since his legs are twice as long at mine).

The second point of coming to Egerszalók, after the wine, was the thermal baths. Having confirmed earlier in the day that they were, in fact, open until 3 AM, we headed out in their direction well into the evening. With a confident stride, Jeremos led us across the village, up side streets and down alleys, and across this incredibly dicey “bridge” made up of three pipes laid down across a roaring gorge. I don’t have a picture (if someone does, please tell me), but I found this similar one:

Okay, so it was really more like a small creek, two feet down, and the pipes were flat, not too slippery, and sufficiently wide to walk on. Despite the darkness and drunkenness, no one fell in, or even anything close, although there was certainly some caution, hand-holding, and Janos bashed his leg while attempting some sort of leap.

After the “bridge”, there was still a significant amount of walking - mostly down a long, twisty road, in the direction away from civilization, in total darkness (except for the full moon, of course). Not too far down the long, twisty, dark road, about half of us declared mutiny and turned around. Halfway back, as the leaders decided to take a “shortcut” to avoid the pipe-bridge, Laura and I staged a revolution. This involved us lying on the road in protest. We had convinced Brent to join us and had almost convinced Jenna when Jeremos called me, ecstatic, to tell us that they had, in fact, found the baths somewhere up ahead in the darkness. Laura made a shrewd decision and ran off towards the group going home. Jenna, Brent and I turned around for the second time and headed back to the darkness. And, sure enough, down the long, twisty dark road, around several corners and past vast fields of nothingness, the baths materialized in a glowing, steamy oasis. After the initial horror of being almost naked in below freezing air, they were incredible. By the time we left, my core was so warm that the walk home was barely cold.

This morning, some of the more determined people (Kyle, Brent, and Mark) got up early and left. The rest of us got up whenever, and eventually congregated in the bar downstairs for much-needed coffee. It took a while to clean up the big room and pack. Jeremy put me in charge of collecting money and paying for the rooms. Wow, if there’s anything more pleasing than being in charge, it’s being in charge and getting to demand money from people. Please God, let me be Hajni some day.

Anyway, we paid, we got out, and we got to the bus stop, only to discover that for the first and only time this weekend, my Sacred Green Notebook had failed us (well, perhaps it wasn’t so much the Notebook’s fault as it was the fault of the person who wrote down the information) and there was no bus at 12:06. Hm. But semmi baj, we found a nearby restaurant and had lunch (or breakfast, for people other than Gaines and I). It was good, but the food kept coming slower and slower. Eventually Gaines (such a girl after my own heart) and I decided that we needed to get on a bus towards Eger in order to make our connections. So we and Chad threw down money and left. Now picture this: we leave the restaurant. I hear Gaines, who is slightly in front of me, cry out. Why? Because the bus is closing it’s doors and pulling away. We chase after it madly. Just as we’ve given up, from behind me I hear Chad yell, “Emily!” I stop, pivot, and looming towards me at a great speed is the huge pastel green front of another bus. I squeak, step back, trip over the curb, and fall flat on my ass. Well, not so much “flat” as particularly hard on my right side. Ouch. At least I didn’t fall under the bus.

So we made it to Eger, Chad and I made it back to Szolnok, and Gaines made it onto her bus and I assume home. The others? Don’t know. We tried to speculate who will get home the latest tonight. Votes were cast for Janos and Harpswell, since their routes are the farthest and most difficult. Possibly also Laura, since she might stay overnight with Jenna. But as I told Gaines, whatever stories I make up in my head, I’m sure the truth will be much more mundane. Well, time will tell.

1 comment:

jrj said...

that was freakin' sweet, emily. you are totally going to be my guest story_teller for the weekend, if that's okay. plus, any time that anyone refers to making out with me as a "an awesome experiment," bonus. thanks for the best-decorated award. it's appreciated.