Szeged Days

Last weekend was Szeged Days, which corresponded with the week-long wine festival. What made the weekend all the more special was the abundant sunshine after a week of storms. I commented to Györgyi that it honestly seemed like every single person in Szeged was outside, near the festival and the bridge where the vendors were selling folk arts. But really, it had to be more than just every person in Szeged. Szegedi-born Budapesters returning home for the weekend, and other tourists from our Carpathian region. Crowded streets? Yes. But this is what this season is all about.

When the weather and our colds improved, we headed out to sample some of the wines. The Budapest International Wine Festival, which I am thrilled to find out will be held this year during the time when my parents are going to be visiting, is a much bigger to-do than the Szeged wine festival. Just as Budapest itself is a bigger to-do.  Which is what makes living in Szeged part-time and enjoying the more subtle festivals and relaxing unpretentious atmosphere so enjoyable. Plus, the one in Szeged is free to enter.

There were many different types of wineries represented at the festival. Even this year’s Winery of the Year (and constant recipient of international gushes), St. Andrea had a stand. The St. Andrea winery is owned by György Lőrincz and his wife/muse, Andrea. It is located in Eger, which is one of Hungary’s most historic wine regions. We are really lucky to have arranged (with Andrea herself) a wine tasting and tour for September when my family is going to be here. And after what we tasted this weekend, I can’t be more excited.

We spent a few nights exploring the stands and tasting some new wines from lesser known regions. And of course, there was plenty of music, food and friends!

Tables were set up all along the stands, so people could buy their wine (glasses or bottles) and sit down to enjoy.

After you’ve had nearly a bottle of wine, it’s really almost impossible to say no to homemade chips. Homemade chips are not a feature of Hungarian festivals. They were strangely American, actually. So I only ate them because it was my patriotic duty. And that sweet Kürtőskalács? Well I ate some of that too. MEDIC!

The next day, we strolled through downtown and the closed bridge where vendors selling just about everything were jammed stand to stand. I desperately wanted a lemon tree, but since I can’t even get basil to grow, I think I’ll wait until next summer to work up to trees.

The cool thing about the day is that even people in their traditional outfits didn’t seem like they were doing it for the sake of anyone else, for tourists or to sell their crafts. It was genuine, special, and in line with the tradition, history and celebration of the city.

Kids and proud parents out and enjoying the sun. And because of all the late spring rain, the river Tisza was starting to flood. They actually closed down the road on the bank of the river because it breached the banks. Szeged has a painful history of high waters, so the trip along the bridge under the swollen Tisza was an acute reflection of Szeged’s Days, in all forms.

There are a few of these guys at every festival. Damn I adore that beer-filled tankard.

Cotton candy as big as your whole upper body. This picture is exactly why I love this place.

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