Kalocsa, Hungary (November 3, 2022)

Today was a perfect day! It started with a fabulous pastry, melon, and coffee and just went up from there.

While we slept, our captain and crew took us 90 miles south to this archbishopric of 16,000 known for its paprika and folk arts. We visited the Saint Joseph Church complex with the bishop’s home, administrative offices, and what will soon be a hostel for pilgrims. The centerpiece of the complex is the church, of course. It is yellow and cream outside and bright and cheerful inside with soft pastel walls and ceiling, creamy marble columns and statues, and stained glass windows made of muted, soft, translucent glass that lets in a lot of light. The accent color throughout is gold. They did not scrimp on the gold! In fact the wooden pulpit is covered top to bottom in it. In a place of honor at the front is a large statue of King Stephen, the first Hungarian king to be baptized and converted to Christianity. We enjoyed a tour of the church and a short organ concert consisting of six classical tunes and ending with a rousing rendition of Glory, Gloria Hallelujah. Our talented, and I assume fun-loving, organist waved to us from the outside balcony as we headed to the bus.

As impressive as the church complex is…and it is…the highlight of our day was visiting a horse farm and enjoying a performance of traditional Puszta horsemanship. It clearly takes skill and training on the part of the horses as well as the riders. No small feat I can only imagine to get a horse to lie down on command no less accept a man standing on its belly while lying down no less sit on its haunches like a dog. Add a long leather whip snapping in its ears and you have nothing less than a miracle. We were spellbound and enthusiastic. Next up: horses and riders chased one another to steal a scarf held between a rider’s teeth. That would be chase with an uppercase C. Read: they ran FAST. A carriage came out pulled by four well-matched horses. A driver was in the front seat and a second man was in the back seat. They galloped in circles. The job of the guy in the second row was to shift his weight and lean so that the carriage did not topple over as the tight turns were executed. Again, more than a little skill is required. The pièce de résistance was a team of 10 white horses galloping into the ring. There were two rows of four in front and two horses in the back. A super-talented rider/driver stood on the haunches of the last two horses and away they went! Another equestrian miracle that was well received.

Besides the talented horses, we saw four huge long-horn cows yoked together as a team. They did not do any tricks unless pulling a wagon counts, which to me it does. We visited the stables, took a brief wagon ride, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There were no keep out signs, velvet ropes, or do-not-enter signs, so we were free to roam and take pictures. We just happened to be at the barn when the driver detached the 10 white horses one from the another. He told them to stand still and they did. Once they were free, the horses were told to go in the barn and wait in their respective places. And they did!

No adventure is complete without a little snack. The horse farm got the memo and served us homemaker bread slathered in pork lard with paprika, red onion, and salt. Our choice of red, white, rose, and fruit juice was available to wash it down. Yes, we were drinking at 10:30 this morning. And yes, the bread was delicious.

We were back on board in time for lunch. I settled for pumpkin soup knowing my afternoon would be a stream of temptations and Dan had a hot dog. We shared a table with a fun couple from Kansas City and swapped travel tales and top tips. My #1 takeaway: think of travel as a way of life, not a vacation.

We enjoyed a perfect afternoon on the water as we sailed toward the Croatian boarder. While Dan napped I went to a poppyseed strudel demonstration and tasting. Then, with a blanket over my shoulders I enjoyed tea in a rocking chair at the front of the ship. The river was deathly quiet, narrow, and less a few vacation homes, bordered with long narrow beaches and trees. A few fishermen in small boats were near the shore and we passed a couple cruise ships going north.

Throw in cocktails and a short briefing on tomorrow’s itinerary, and it was time for dinner. We returned to our room to find a Congratulations on Your Retirement card and a box of Belgian chocolates.

Happy Birthday Cleone!

… Paprika …

Although Hungary is now widely recognized as the producer of the finest paprika,
it probably came from Mexico and Central-America originally.

Paprika was imported to Europe along with tobacco and potatoes.
First it was cultivated in Spain, later in Great Britain and the south of France.

The Turks brought it to Hungary and now Hungarian paprika rules.


2 thoughts on “Kalocsa, Hungary (November 3, 2022)

  1. A wonderful day with a variety of adventures!! You lost me at bread spread with pork lard though… ________________________________


  2. What a great day—I love this line the most—” No adventure is complete without a little snack. The horse farm got the memo”

    Matt Mongeon, PMP, Sr. Technical Delivery Program Manager
    Engineering Management Office
    PMP,ITIL Foundation, RCV, OSA, SOA, PPO
    5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
    • 619.266.5675 (ex. 55675) |( 619.822.4661 | • matt.mongeon@cox.commatt.mongeon@cox.com


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