Thursday, 24 May 2007

20th May

20th May
Pecs (pronounced paych), Hungary.

Once on the Campsite, we had a bit of messing around to be done in order to get fresh water. The only tap was in a wash house in the main building, but I managed to get Hermione close enough to get the hose to reach. The woman who runs the site lent me a couple of guide books on Pecs, although we were having to conduct all instructions in German as she didn't speak any English. I thought that she wanted the books back when we returned from the town, but as we were leaving to go sight-seeing, she demanded the books back! Oh well.... at least we had read through them and also had a small photocopied map of the city centre.

We walked the 1.5km into town. Sadly, a lot of Pecs' industry has declined after the fall of communism, and lots of factory buildings lie empty and derelict. The old centre of the city is, by contrast, very pretty and has had some effort put in to turn it into a place for tourists to want to visit. There are a couple of mosques still standing from the era when the Turks invaded, although they have been converted into Christian churches now, but the one at the main square really is very beautiful, having retained most of the Eastern influenced architecture. We visited the old Cathedral museum where they have on display a lot of the masonry from the earlier Cathedral and have made attempts to place all the stone work where it would have once stood. The arched entrance way and the altar are particularly impressive.

We had a wander around the quaint streets and stopped off at a bar for some lunch. The main meat dishes on offer seemed to be of turkey or pork. We both opted for turkey, prepared differently. The portions were huge and the fare simple, but tasty and well cooked. The bill including drinks and tip came to about 12e for the two of us! After the problem finding a campsite here, we went into a net cafe to check out sites for Budapest, so as to be a bit better prepared, then continued on our wandering by foot.

We were looking for a bar on the other side of town, so we needed to cross the railway, then walk along a long road past the football ground (very run down looking) and past lots of old factory buildings, then up towards a development called Pecs Plaza (a kind of out of town cinema complex). We couldn't find the right road and ended up going in a huge circle. We tried again but even after asking for directions, we had ended up in a housing estate amongst tower blocks! We were definately on the correct road, but no sign of the place. Oh well..... we decided to hop in a taxi back into the centre as our feet were now killing us! I have blisters on both of mine.... grrr....

We had a drink in a bar in the centre (with a surly waitress), tried to see if the club down the street was open late (it wasn't) and then headed back to the campsite and negotiated the locked gate with the key left for us on a hook to get in.

I really enjoyed the visit to Pecs. It gave a good insight into not only the old, historic parts, but also into the areas you wouldn't normally see as a tourist, and although maybe a bit on the shabby side in terms of the housing, which was a bit 1960's / 70's 7 storey blocks of flats, but there wasn't any major vandsalism to be seen, just some graffiti, and no wee neds / skangers hanging around. Just such a different attitude from the council estates back home. Hungary, so far, has also been very cheap, but it will be interesting to see if the capital, Budapest is the same.

Spotted this old Beetle in Pecs.

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