Tokaj….More then just “Noble rot!”

When…… I woke up Sunday morning and announced to my husband I had finally come up with a fitting title for my new post, he looked at me with sheer confusion. That in itself is not out of the norm.  When I repeated myself again with a short explanation, it was followed by a pause (of the remote control) and then I went along my not so merry way…… Travel guides and reviews, as helpful as they be. Are at times are a tad “boring”.  Don’t get me wrong it’s always nice to read up on a places history, as it relates to cultural understanding.  In the past, when I’ve looked up Tokaj, Hungary on the internet, the results were pretty much what I had expected.

Grapes for making wine. I just perfer to eat them!

Grapes for making wine. I just prefer to eat them!
Wine, wine and more wine, thrown in with wine tours, wine tastings, wine types, wine history, vineyards, etc., you get my meaning. On the rare occasion and often as a side-note, I see Tokaj described as a “nice day trip” for tourists. I adamantly disagree with that common assumption and I’ll tell you why!!

I would usually be the first to get up in the morning.  I’d walk down the csiga (snail style) staircase and head to the kitchen to make myself a fresh hot cup of coffee. Nearly every morning with coffee in hand, I would go outside to the backyard.

The Garden

Our house sits near the side of the mountain; looking straight ahead I would see the garden full of vegetables, fruit tree’s ripe for the picking and the dense forest that lined the steep slopes of mountain side.

Terrace

To the side is a large stone paved terrace with a view of house tops and some of the larger buildings in the far distance toward the center of the town and beyond. If my timing was right, I’d look up and see what I believe, or rather told where carrier pigeons in training. All in formation; weaving and circling, then heading up into the sky and diving down again to “hopefully” return to their owners.

My outdoor swing of choice!

My outdoor swing of choice!

Though the most memorable thing, was and always will be the fresh, crisp and slightly dewy smell of the morning air!!  It’s very difficult to explain the scent.  Maybe….countries, cities and towns; like people have different smells to them; indigenous and unique….

About the time I finished my ritual of stretches and coffee, my mother was awake, and making her own cup of morning brew.  There is a farmer’s market (piac) in town, open almost every day.  If there was anything we needed food wise and more, we would find it there.  Lined up on both sides of the street are tables set up by local farmers, craftsmen, butchers and so on.  We’d find freshly laid eggs (even the chickens themselves, one never knew), cow and goat’s milk…… still warm!

GoatCheeseFarmersMarTokaj

Varieties upon varieties of homemade cheeses, (hazi) szalonna (smoked bacon), kolbasz (sausage). vegetables, fruits, spices, paprika (hot/mild/sweet), and braided garlic.

 LocalFamersMarketProduceTokajLocalFarmersMarketTokaj

My mom always made it a point to introducing me as her daughter from America.  “What gave it away?” I’d laugh.

Oh mom....I do love you!

Oh mom….I do love you!

With my bulking camera always in tow; happily clicking and sampling away. Granted my spoken Hungarian isn’t perfect, but I can understand pretty well.

Say "goat" cheese!

Say “goat” cheese (smile)!
Everyone, at least in my experience, was very friendly and gracious; and yes it is true, Hungarian’s do appreciate the efforts made by foreigners to at least say a few words in their language tongue (as difficult as it might be). Koszi!!! Trust me when I say, “Mit csinalsz”…being blurted out from the mouth a southerner like my hubby, is extremely amusing!!

So by now you might be thinking to yourself, so lets hear it?  This post was initially going in a different direction; that was until I had a serious misunderstanding with “auto-save”.  Course change……insert pictures and type as we go.

The Trans Hungarian Marathon, set up in the center of town.

The Trans Hungarian Marathon, set up in the center of town. My first of many so-called small town secrets revealed.

You think I might see Slade or Eddie from RHOC there...hmm?

Maybe I might see Slade or Eddie from RHOC there…hmm?

Important note: When you are visiting Tokaj; remember the names of these three streets: Rakoczi Ut.——>Kossuth Ter. (city center) —–>Bethlen Gabor Ut., and you won’t get lost.

Bacchus Etterem in the city center. Shaded outdoor seating, and in my opinion the best cappacino in town.

Bacchus Etterem in the city center. Shaded outdoor seating, great service and in my opinion the best cappuccino in town. Next to it is the Bacchus Fountain, which I like to call “the laughing/intoxicated man who is about to fall over.”

Concert goers...wait a sec, how did that get in here? All those people in Tokaj?? Indeed, and we know it am the Hegyalja Festival!

Concert goers?…wait a sec, how did this picture get in here? All those people in little Tokaj?? We know it as the Hegyalja Festival! From June 25th to June 30th, people of all ages (see image above) and entertainers gather along the banks of the Tisza camping area, and “celebrate” for 4 whole days… Yes, I let out another secret; it’s not always about the wine; it’s also about the BEER (Borsodi)! 🙂

With the job comes a few perks in avoiding the crowds...its called the VIP area!

With the job comes a few perks in avoiding the crowds…its called the VIP area!

Time for foodie stuff!!

Let them eat birthday cake! Actually the bakery that made it

Let them eat birthday cake! Actually the bakery that made it.  The Halasz Cukraszda, serves up cakes, pastries, ice cream, coffee and these little biscuits my mom orders on special occasions called pogacsa. If you need a bit more than try the Edes Bolt (Sweet Store).  Edit the owner has candies, chocolates, gift baskets. She can custom engrave many items too.  My personal favorite is the dark chocolate covered coffee beans, and the cognac/Aszu filled (dark) chocolate megy. Be sure to have yourself a hearty bowl of Halasz Le (soup), while you are visiting; Tokaj is very famous for it.

After food, coffee, desert, chocolate we have to find a way to work off all those calories.  There is Kopasz Hill/Tokaj Mountain/Hegy (whichever way you choose to refer to it as). Hiking the mountain is a popular activity of choice. There is a road that you can also drive up on. Beautiful panoramic views for miles and miles!  I’ve heard rumors of building a lift to take tourist to the top of the mountain.  If that is the case, and it’s available in the winter; I’m bringing my snowboard!! (BTW…I do have some great pictures from the top; regretfully I am not able to find them; even after going through nearly 3,000 pictures.  I’m sure they are somewhere on a disk, sorry!) This will have to do for now….

A view from the air..

A view from the air..

The River (not referring to the Garth Brooks song)

As you see from the picture above Tokaj situated where the Tisza and the Bodrog come together. There are many boat tours that depart from Tokaj. Varying in duration from a few hours to an entire day trip to nearby cities.  Many people also enjoy “adventurous” voyages on their personal watercraft. Whether its fishing, sunbathing, swimming (at your own risk), or some high-speed thrill…. The camping area on the opposite side of the Tisza is very popular as well.

Where's the sunscreen? Judit getting some sun on the boat!

Where’s the sunscreen? Judith getting some sun on the boat!

Paulay Ede Szinhaz

Paulay Ede Szinhaz

What have I forgot?

The Paulay Ede Szinhaz (theater) has concerts, musicals, stage, opera year around!  In front of the building is the refurbished Jewish Synagogue.

Site of the old synogogue

Site of the old synagogue. Old Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches are sites to see in the city as well.

A few more bits to offer…. The Toldi Hotel, I’m not sure about their rooms, but they have a great indoor pool, hot tub and sauna! Panzio’s (pension/inn) are abundant in Tokaj; they are privately owned and offer personal appeal.  If you like, you can visit the small boutique inside the Coop Grocery Store; ask for Zsuzsa Poczkodi; a very nice woman who runs/owns her own panzio.

The nightlife in Tokaj is more lively during the summer, it is not like Budapest the capital, but more of a relaxed version.

Veres Szeker Biker Pub

Veres Szeker Biker Pub, is one of the popular hangouts for visitors and locals alike; especially when the Motor Festival is going on (think Sturgis in Hungary).  A casual setting, out-door patio tables, music, bar, dart boards, etc. Prices are more than reasonable.

Plenty to do inside and out. They have another area for setting. Look for the "Red Gate," you can't miss it.

Plenty to do inside and out. They have another seating area on the side of the building. Look for the “Red Gate,” you can’t miss it.

Best Langos: I always forget the name of this place…..but as soon as you come across the bridge into Tokaj to the circle, go right and it is immediately on the left with the big wooden door and the line of people waiting.  The best gyros in town (yes you heard me correctly); awesome late night snack try:

Open mostly in the afternoon during the summer months, until VERY late at night!

Open mostly in the afternoon during the summer months, until VERY late at night! I get mine with everything but lettuce, and extra sauce! (Fab. sauce)

If you are wondering about transportation from Budapest. The Keleti Palyaudvar Station (Rail), has IC (inter-city) service to Tokaj and beyond. I don’t pay particular attention; if I remember correctly it is about 2 to 2 1/2 hours by train and slightly more by car.

So, there you have it, a secret peek at what Tokaj has to offer (did not include all the many antique, gift, wine, etc. shops and more places of interest).

Surprisingly enough, there is more to Tokaj then just wine.  It might be the capital of wine country in Hungary; but it really does have more to offer.  Don’t let those wine “snobs” discourage you from a visit. I promise you WILL be pleasantly surprised.  One almost last thing about wine cellars…try the “Katakomb“, down the road from the railroad station if it is really your thing!

Kat-

P.S. Any opinions, suggestions, corrections, or questions, the comment box/e-mail is always open!  I’ll be signing off for a few days to check out my new Windows 8 laptop OS (thank you honey), and make plans for Memorial Day, (Hubby and I happen to be former USN).

Thanks again everyone….for reading my post!!!  More to come…never know the topic!

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About magyarok27

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13 Responses to Tokaj….More then just “Noble rot!”

  1. Joe B. says:

    I really like this. It brought back a few memories from the trip we took back in 2006. I was amazed how the locals took to this southern redneck. Great post babe. Love you.

  2. Reblogged this on i am oceans roar and commented:
    Here is one of my new followers. She writes about Hungary. There are many things to do in Tokaj. i do have to disagree about the Borsodi beer; it is horrible. If you want good beer look elsewhere, if you want great beer go to Cseh Republic.

    • Kat Bultman says:

      Thanks for the re-blog… appreciate it, and actually I agree with ya on the Borsodi (yuck), It just happened to work in the blog pointing out “more then just the wine,” LOL
      There will be more to come on other places of interest inside of Hungary+ additional segments on Tokaj and the states too; along with the usual sarcastic opinions of mine!!. Thanks again 🙂

  3. Michelle says:

    HI Kat, I have never been to Hungary – your pictures make me wanna go!! Whens the best time to go?

    • Kat Bultman says:

      Let’s try this again…not sure if my reply went through.. I’d say between June and August…always the safe bet. Depends sometime what you are interested in seeing…

      • Michelle says:

        I have not thought of Hungary yet and after seeing your photos, seems like a plan! We are thinking of a long trip end of the year and this could be an option!

      • Kat Bultman says:

        Honestly Michelle it has been ages since I’ve went in the late fall/winter. I’m sure there will be plenty to do in the bigger cities, but the smaller ones have “kind of” limited stuff in the winter (with roads and weather conditions.) Otherwise, Budapest the capital is within the top 10 destinations in Europe…

  4. Kat Bultman says:

    BTW…a winter/Christmas trip is something I’d love to do…miss Christmas’s in Hungary (visiting with friends and LOTS of family).

  5. sisteranan says:

    Thank you, i really enjoyed this. I was in Cak and Budapest while in Hungary, but looking at your gorgeous photos reminded me of all those amazing hikes through the flowered fields…

  6. I lived 4 years in Hungary and traveled there for more than 20 years. I started going there when Iron curtain was in place and gulash communism the rule. During communism there was a bad smell in the cities (and this was true for all Eastern European cities behind iron curtain). This was due to the poorly refined gas delivered by the Soviets. A few months after the Berlin wall fall and the fall of communism they started to get gas deliveries from the west and that bad smell disappeared. I travelled all over Hungary and tried all the different type of wines. Again I noticed a change before and after commuism: the wines became much better not to say excellent after. The wine grovers went to France lo learn how to make good wine. At communist time the wine was produced by industrial wine Kombinats equivalent toMonsanto pesticide production centers! I personnally went to Eger to purchase excellent Egribikavér at Horvath Janos pince.
    During communist time there was a wine called Burgundy (the Hungarian explained me that the grape was original from Burgundy brought by munks and survived the philoxera destruction which made that Burgundy grapes had to be replaced by American grapes) after communism fall France sued Hungary for usurpated name, Hungary sued back because, in France,in Alsace there was a wine called Tokay. The grapes came from Hungary stolen by some French Warriors during religious wars and planted in Alsace. Result we had to give up te name Tokay, it became Pinot gris but the quality of the wine fortunately did not changed.
    I am from Burgundy in France and we have a lot of monuments and building with exactly the sale colored tiles roof that many buildings have in Hungary and Austria. http://images.google.fr/imgres?imgurl=http://www.guidedor.net/images/tourisme/hospices_BeauneGrand.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.guidedor.com/tourisme_bourgogne/tourisme_beaune/Hospices_de_Beaune_Beaune.php&h=350&w=519&tbnid=hl7YqZ7xsXJwdM:&tbnh=160&tbnw=237&docid=7zx6i6JZioK8bM&itg=1&usg=__GyO93gk7opCHHTgL2lihVjYMroo=

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