Friday, 9 September 2011
Weekend in Pécs (Part 1)
I have a Hungarian friend called Aron, who I've been studying with and written a project with, and since he's staying at his parent's apartment in Pécs [pronounced "pea-ch", well, almost] at the moment, while he waits to start his internship, I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit him. First of all I had to catch the train from Budapest Déli station (on the Buda side).
I always imagine that journeys are going to be stressful events and sometimes they are. This however was really quite straightforward. It was Friday afternoon, and the queue for the ticket office was long - there are a few ticket machines outside the office, but the queue for them was also long, so I took a deep breath and stood in line. Thankfully it was a relatively speedy process, and apart from a rotund middle-aged woman who kept trying to subtly shuffle her way forward, it all went smoothly. A good tip to remember is that there's a 50% discount on student tickets, so the ticket was only 2000HUF (about 7-8 euros) for a second-class ticket in intercity train ... and of course, remember your student card - I showed my Danish one, which seemed to be fine.
The train itself was really very comfortable ... I was a little bit surprised to be honest. After what some Hungarian friends had said, I half expected it to be cramped with no leg room and overcrowded, however the seats were comfortable, there was air conditioning, and there was plenty of leg room. The only thing I thought was a little strange was that there was no carpet - I don't whether they were in the middle of refurbishing the carriage, but after about 30 seconds I didn't think about it again. I'd like to tell you about the journey and the sights on the way, however to be honest I fell asleep for most of the 3 hour journey.
When I arrived in Pécs, Aron was there to meet me and we wandered up to the town centre - Aron was keen to explain the history of the town and show me the beautiful local delights. On leaving the train station you wouldn't think that there was much beauty in Pécs to be honest - the buildings weren't well looked after and it was all a bit run-down - it reminded me of derelict streets on the outskirts of Manchester or Birmingham, well, okay, maybe not that bad. But still, after 5 minutes we approached the main square and shopping street, and it was beautiful - it was full of life, with a mixture of people drinking coffee, sitting by the fountain, chatting and having fun, all set to the backdrop of a mosque/church (it had been used by different groups in its history), fountains and baroque/neo-classical buildings.
After we had visited a few bars and cafés (just to start the weekend in the right way :-) we went to get something to eat and that's when something amazing happened ... it looked like a simple, everyday kebab shop on the outside, however in that kebab shop, with it's KFC-esque, cheap, red plastic illuminated sign and a heating system which meant that the climate was that of a rain forest, they produce magic. I bought a chicken kebab (with everything) which I can only describe as THE best kebab I've ever eaten - it was delicious - it was (to coin a phrase) legendary. While I can't remember the name of the shop (I was in shock at the time), I do remember where it was (on Rákötczi üt, next to a mall, and opposite a small shop). If you want to see it on Google Maps just click here. It's on the south side of the street, opposite the angelic light (seriously, look at the map).
Once we'd eaten our heavenly kebabs, we found a nice bar/café in the square and had a few drinks and a chat, and periodically listening to the cheers as Hungary beat Sweden 2-1. It was a great atmosphere. Then we walked to Aron's parent's apartment, where Aron showed me to my room and mentioned that we had to be up early to look at some properties with his Dad. Feeling exhausted at this point I went to sleep as my head hit the pillow, unaware of the adventures that tomorrow had in store (see Part 2).