Wednesday 6 March 2013


Welcome to Hungary
It was only a year or so back that we started to develop links with Hungary. This came about through a meeting with Hungarian councillor and turkey magnate   Nemeth Zsolt from the town of Sarvar at the Uherske Hradiste wine festival. He introduced us to school teacher Kovacs Beata  from the Tinodi Sebestian High school and thereafter the links simply flowed.

Well, Kovacs Beata is like saying Smedley Brian, but the Hungarians seem to like  things that way round, so this year I got Media teachers  Hughes Vanessa ,Woods Laura and De Francesca Mino to take College Bridgwater over there with 33 eager students.

Flying from Gatwick to Budapest the students were met off the plane at Ferihegy (Ferenc Liszt) airport by Ferenc the bus driver   and his bus (probably also called Ferenc). And Smedley Brian.


It wasn't as cold as we thought it might have been and the snow generally hung in ploughed up patches on the edges of fields, which were equally dotted with vast limpid pools of meltwater. 

Heroes Square in Budapest
Staying at the Benczur hotel -in a great location just off the main Andrassy thoroughfare, we were able  to have a night wander around the nearby city park and Heroes square, past the ridiculously inappropriate 'Museum of Agriculture' - a converted castle, and back before midnight surrounded by steaming lakes of vapour that showed you;re never too far from a thermal spa in Hungary.

Next day the students from Sarvar travelled up to Budapest to join us. Todays highlights included a visit to the MTV studios - that's Hungarian as in Magyar TV -not the music channel of world renown and a skyline tour of the Buda hills on the Presidential palace side of the Danube.


Lunch time and shopping in the town centre Vaci street area allowed the staff to sample the delights of Hungarian  chicken and honey salads while the students headed for the magic that is KFC.

Hungarian Parliament across the Danube
The afternoon saw us visiting the Hungarian Parliament - a magnificent building right on the banks of the river, but which now costs money to visit. It didn't just a few months back. I opted to sit this one out quietly in a roadside cafe, where I was entertained by the delightful spectacle of 3 French girls screaming constantly at the Hungarian waitress that she'd robbed them while the poor girl/possible robber attempted to go about her business serving people. This lasted about half an hour whereafter the French decided to give up and promised to be back tomorrow.

An evening meal at the hotel was followed by a night on the town. Hungarian students Balint, Istvan and Berci were with them at all times in case of major incidents such as inadvertently ordering a mixed sauna instead of a KFC bargain bucket.


Donald Campbell aims to set a new land speed record
Morning rolled round and we rolled off. Along came Ferenc in the Ferencmobile  and within 30 minutes we were at Memento Park, the place where the anti-communists took all the communist statues and put em in an anti-communist statue museum and charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see'em. Well, you don't always know what you've got till it's gone. However, in this case it had been over 20 years since the collapse of Communism and none of the Hungarian students really knew much about why the statue museum was there in the first place. So Mino and Vanessa demonstrated 'the good old days' by trying to fit into a Trabant.

Next stop was the Korda Film studios. Lots of famous Hungarian film people of course. Bela Lugosi to name just one. So the film students had a guided tour around the film sets and afterwards mingled with the throngs of extras, of whom there were none, in the studio canteen. And ate chicken.

The Hungarians sing in Hungarian
Across the vast icy puddly snow drifty wastes of Hungary the bus trundled for a couple of hours before arriving in Sarvar - the delightful little town with it's quaint middle European houses, charming folk customs and the castle where Elizabeth Bathory who went on to murder 300 peasant girls  lived.


That evening we had a party at the Tinodi Sebestian school which involved singing Hungarian songs and being treated to several promotional films of Hungary, Sarvar and wellness spas. Who'd have thought the Hungarians had invented the biro, the rubik cube and the detachable chicken! The highlight of the evening was a fiendish quiz set by Hungarian students which would have gained the winners in any other country a Mensa award or an entrance exam to a top University. The winners on this occasion attained the top award of 'large cream cake'. Which would have probably satisfied Leonardo Da Vinci and put him off his inventing at an early age. If only achievement was properly rewarded!

The sunny village of Cak
The next day the HungoAnglo students headed off by Ferencbus to the nearby town of Szombathely where they interviewed the editor of the local newspaper 'Vas Nepe', who complained about the dumbing down of the newspaper industry and the pressures on budgets and the increase of unemployment. And gave them several hundred small cheesecakes for better contemplation.


After dinner at a local school, they headed into the Austrian borderlands and the small village of Cak - famous for it's ancient wine cottages and modern wines and palinka (brandy) - an especially interesting strain produced by Mr Nemeth which featured a portrait of his charming daughter Eszther on each bottle.  An evening meal in Cak sponsored by Mr Nemeth was followed by an evening break in central Szombathely and then back to Sarvar.

The final day saw the group headed off to Vienna -just 2 hours away on the same Danube. Guided by the sprightly Gabor, the group visited the Schonbrunn palace and the ancient city centre before heading off to Vienna airport  and back to Gatwick.

No comments:

Post a Comment