[From Braunschweig we dawdled our way through southern Germany, dropping on friends in Miesbach south of Munich, and followed the classic bits of the Danube riverside cycle path from Passau. We got as far as Esztergom before turning south to Budapest, and then headed for our third twin, Káposvar, via the flatlands of Lake Balaton.]
I spent Sunday night chatting to an oil engineer called Zoltan Toth in a bar outside Káposvar.
It one of those memorable evenings where I can’t remember much of what happened.
This was largely because the genial Mr Toth kept buying me rum, which you have to down in one in Hungary. He made his little English go a long way, and we resorted to a lot of drawing on beermats, using up the bar’s entire stock in the process. It’s quite a challenge trying to depict in diagrammatic form the concept of Hotmail, the naffness of Riverdance, Anneka Rice, or the LBW rule.
Haven’t got a bad word to say about Kaposvar, but then all we can say in Hungarian is ‘beer’, ‘ice cream’, ‘coffee’, and ‘if the ball shall in the opinion of the umpire strike the batsman between wicket and wicket and would have struck the stumps, then the batsman shall be out’.
OK, I was lying about the last one.
Actually, few people we met in Kaposvar spoke English, and we did find it a bit frustrating getting around. Tourist info was closed most of the time we were there. We asked about two intriguing attractions – the World Egg Painting Champion who lives nearby, and the Archery Demonstrations – and were given no information, just phone numbers. Not much use when (a) the person on the other end speaks only Hungarian and (b) the public phones eat your money even if nobody answers.
Kaposvar has public swimming baths fed by the natural hot spring water from the region. Each evening they are emptied, and each day they are replenished with liquid. Which bladderlike concept brings me nicely to the local booze…
We met up with Imre Kercza, the editor of the local newspaper Somogy Hirlap. They did a little article on us, printed a pic, and the genial Dr Kercza entertained us with anecdotes and some splendidly vicious Magyar firewater. Many thanks to him and the interpreter Henriett.
The back page of the newspaper has a column of jokes. Here’s one: Two car alarms in a street. One goes off, but the other was Hungarian!
Perhaps it doesn’t translate very well.