On the Road 2009: Day Ten

June 3, 2009

By hammersmith

After waking up in Debrecen and retrieving all of the near-dry laundry that we had laid out in the closet, moldings, shelving, and seating of our room, we packed on the bus and departed for our next Hungarian destination, Gyula. Day 10 would be our last full day in Hungary for a while, and a good portion of it involved our bus ride towards the Hungary and Romania border.

Along with a drawn out breakfast, consisting primarily of European pastries, crackers, and cookies, we supplemented our drive with music that each of us helped to select. By means of many different MP3 players and musical tastes, our background music was relatively eclectic, including classics like Rocketman and Free Fallin’ to more modern indie rock, big band, dance, and even the occasional Disney sing-a-long. And, of course, there was more than enough beautiful Hungarian countryside and villagescape scenery to take in along the way.

Once in Gyula, our first destination was the baths, which are well regarded across both Hungary and Romania for their medicinal tea-colored waters. We took a tour of the facilities with the director, and learned of the traditional roles of the baths in Hungarian Culture. Baths were popularized in Hungary during the period of Turkish occupation in the 16th and 17th centuries, and have remained important to present day. Many who frequent the baths actually go by prescription from their doctors.

After our tour, we were very much ready to try the baths out, so we changed into bathing suits and spent a good deal of time relaxing in the outdoor 34 degree pool (that’s Celsius, of course). We also enjoyed some of the other offerings, including water slides and great expanses of grass for frisbee, volleyball, and badminton. When our time was over, we enjoyed a typical Hungarian lunch of chicken and potatoes at one of the bath’s outdoor restaurants.

Across from the baths was our next destination, the Gyula Castle. Built in the 1400s, it is three stories tall with a red-tint roof and tan stone walls. A few rooms that caught our interest were the Lady’s quarters, with lavish furniture and incredibly short doors, and the blacksmithing room, which doubled as the center for dental work.

Next, our group went to meet with a couple of Gyula butchers at a museum for traditional Gyula sausage-making. We learned about how the process works and what kind of unique factors have led the Gyula butchers to win much acclaim in the world of gastronomy. We also were offered samples of four of the local sausage types, which we ate quickly.

For dinner, we had chicken and pork dishes at a local restaurant in town. Though everyone thought they were full after this, we seemed to find room for a bready banana-chocolate dessert.

A few of us went running after dinner and learned yet again how interesting a short-thirty minute run can be when in a completely foreign place. Along the way, we found a spinning glass globe that told us the local time in Arizona, a creek with the strangest and most mystifying chorus of frogs that we have ever heard, and an eerie but intruiguing path with a vanishing bridge and overly-friendly Saint Bernard.

It was a nice end to an enjoyable day, and we finished back in our accomodations, a local high school that operated in Romanian. Perhaps it’s foreshadowing the next leg of our journey, in Trannsylvania… Jó éjszakát!