Run Along the River and the Quintessential Cafe Breakfast
Saturday started out really lovely. We went for a run along the Tisza at about 7, which is kind of late for us but we were up late after swimming and with the opera and some student revelers in their early July party mode at the banks of the river. Though even at 7 when we went out, there were still some people sitting in the park benches with their wine and beer, trying desperately to ignore the sun and go home.
After running, we decided to go for a quick breakfast at Acappella Cafe, which is in the city center as well. We had cappuccinos and some pogacsas (which are little salty cheesy scones and very popular here) and a few sweet tea cookies. It took me a little while to get used to the European breakfast, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Antique Books and the New Synagogue
The sun was starting to really warm everything up, so we decided to leave and pop in quickly to the antique/used/collectible bookstore, Antikvarium. It’s at this store that I found a first paperback edition of Sylvia Plath’s Colossus, and a few other really oldies in subjects I adore in really oldie books: science and religion.
After the book store we went to take a morning picture of the New Synagogue. It was built in 1900 in the Moorish and Secession style. Unlike Budapest’s Great Synagogue, which is the second largest synagogue in the world (only smaller than Temple Emanu-El in New York City), Szeged’s New Synagogue is the second largest in Hungary. It’s quite beautiful and I’m glad that we saw it because it’s kind of peacefully hidden in a quiet little neighborhood street.
Ópusztaszer and the Many Attila the Huns
So Györgyi has been wanting to take me to Ópusztaszer since I arrived last year, especially because it’s only about a thirty minute drive from Szeged, but we didn’t finally go until this weekend. Györgyi told me that there is a cool painting there that we should see, so I was picturing it as this little town with a painting somewhere, no big deal.
What she failed to mention was that the whole place is a massive living history museum stocked with replica houses, farms, animals and actors who get dressed up in period clothes. In addition, we happened to go there when there was this huge archery competition, in which (mostly) men and boys of all ages got dressed up in different outfits from different periods of Hungary and walked around shooting targets with the bow and arrows. It was totally bizarre and kind of rad.
Of course at all festivals there were the colorful characters selling their folkarts and working the crowd, and everywhere there was the smells of the fair foods—fried meats, breads, sweets, etc. And when we went to the replica of an old Szeged farm, we got to see Mangalica pigs. They’re so cute and so delicious.
Probably the most interesting thing is that everyone has these whips here—the Hungarian cowboy whips, that probably could take an arm off if used incorrectly. But people were cracking them all over the place, demonstrating their skills with them, and throughout the whole park you could hear the crackle as the whip breaks the sound barrier. A kind of dangerous cool, so much so that I really started to envy their outfits and found myself kind of wanting one.
We ended the day at another fish restaurant for dinner, and like most nights in Szeged, found ourselves walking back to the Virág Cukrászda for a glass of wine to watch the sun set and the mass of people in the square to trail off to their seats at the open-air theatre.
It’s just how summer goes here and I adore it, just as I did last year, though now it seems a little more usual. After the cafe, the last stop is the confectionary for a scoop or two of gelato, to enjoy while walking back toward the river and apartment. Though I don’t recall what flavors we selected, I do recall very fondly how the streets were lit by the low lights of the Dóm, and how wonderful it was to be there with the sounds of the operetta lingering in the air.