Today we got a 9.30 train out to a town called Esztergom. A small town 40ish km out of Budapest on the Danube river which here is the border between Hungary and Slovakia. It was a nice modern train and I had another travel moment, realising that I was winding through the Hungarian countryside in autumn.
The town was nice and quiet as today it was a public holiday to celebrate the revolution against the Soviets in 1956. The town seemed to be a typical central European town, reasonably traditional and overlooked by a basilica which is the head of the catholic church in Hungary, and is also the biggest church in Hungary.
We had been joking about swimming to Slovakia as the map Nerrille had didn't show that there was any other way across. When we reached the river we discovered the bridge which had been destroyed in 1945 had been rebuilt in 2001. Must have been an old map. So as a bonus for the day, we walked through the disused passport control into Slovakia to a town called Štúrovo. We couldn't come this far without buying some food so we bought a few kinds of salami from the butcher after I discovered I had some euros (hungary uses forints). By then it was midday so the shops shut. We stood in the main square of the town eating that and then crossing back over to Hungary to the basilica.
It was pretty big, pretty nice but by now we're church and mosqued out. The views of Štúrovo and Esztergom were worth the short climb up the hill though. We had a bit of a sit and decided it was lunchtime so we walked down and found a little restaurant that served Hungarian food. It was hot in there, super hot. As most places have been indoors in Hungary. But we had a really nice Gulas and a beer before gladly heading back outside to the cool. On the way to the station we bought a Kürtős kalács which is like a cinnamon donut but Hungarian, bigger and nicer. We had a bit of time so we wandered the streets looking at houses as the sun was on its way down. The air smelled of coal and wood fires, reminded me of Lithgow when I was a kid.
Back in Budapest we went out for dinner with Nerrille's canadian/hungarian friend Erika to a big traditional restaurant. It felt like you were sitting in a church, complete with stained glass windows. I had stuffed cabbage which was a huge dish with cabbage, pork mince and tomato sauce in a big metal bowl. After a dessert big enough for a family, Andy and I went and checked out the other Szimpla bar.