“Hello and welcome to fun and relax, my name is Beatka and I will be servicing you on your journey”.
“Fun and Relax” was not quite what we were expecting once onboard the 7.30 morning bus from Brno to Gyor, a town on the Hungarian/Slovakian border, and when she added politely to us that there may be no beers available we were starting to wonder just how this trip was going to pan out. However, after a quick discussion with the driver she did indeed find two cans of Gambrinus, much to the driver’s disappointment I imagine.
A trip to Hungary is pretty straightforward from Brno, so after arriving in Gyor within a mere three hours we headed past the Belgian pub (which we would make an unwise stop in later) and in to the enchanting, historic town centre. We were planning on pacing ourselves on this trip, which is why we waited until 10.30 to have our second drink, and as we always make an effort to blend in with the local culture we were keen to try a local beer. Cue our first pub = specialising in Czech and German beers. An accident maybe, but we were lucky that they were actually selling a local micro-brew (more on that later) which went down nicely.
What do you think of when you hear the name Hungary? Well, we thought of goulash. So off we went in search of steamer, Westy Hajo, sitting serenely on the banks of the Danube (Ralph’s favourite river, by the way) and tucked in to pint of Borsodi and a fine goulash in a bread bowl which I broke my teeth on. Following this success Ralph scored another by passing the polyglot challenge and asking for the bill in Hungarian, which apparently becomes easier after three beers. Firing on all cylinders, we set off in to the unknown (well, Gyirmót) in search of new breweries and football.
Gyirmót is suburb of Gyor, but the train delivered us to a sparse, flat landscape presenting a barren area at odds with the charm of the centre of the city . We alighted the train on to a stark and lonely platform, with the road running across us far in to either direction. A pizzeria and a track side pub sat on either side, surrounded by a clamour of houses. On one of these streets is purported to be a brewery. The brewery, we hoped, that had provided us with our first beer in Gyor.
The brewery is supposedly situated in someone’s back garden, and sure enough when we arrived at the address there was nothing more than a standard residential home with no beers signs and an empty driveway, signalling that the owners had found something better to do on a cold Saturday than serve us. Disappointed, we headed back to the pub beside the tracks, Csanaki Fészek, and interrupted a children’s birthday party. Sitting quietly and dodging pink balloons, we swiftly finished off our beers. Whether or not they had ever heard an English voice in there before it was hard to tell, but one thing we could say is that we were enjoying a warm welcome everywhere we went.
One notable thing about Gyirmót – there are a lot of dogs, and they are huge and waiting to kill. From every direction massive dogs barked and howled at us from every garden of this sprawling residential maze. Some were trying to tear through fences, whilst one had even laid a trap by placing a football within kicking distance of his kennel. Even Ralph, who can never resist the urge to kick a stray football, dared not go any closer. It was pure madness. Nevertheless, we survived the gauntlet and made it to the game between Gyirmót FC and Kisvarda Master Good.
Gyirmót FC sit at the top of the second league and are obviously being financially well supported, as you can see the name of the sponsors plastered all over the newly redeveloped stadium. The stadium is modern and big – maybe too big for Gyirmót FC as one of the side stands was completely empty. But this team has big plans it seems, so maybe the empty stands are sitting pretty, waiting for the big league. Tonight though, it is cold, and the atmosphere in the stands is an odd one. The crowd has a strangely large number of young children in it, as if on some school trip. And it is them that are doing all the singing. Whether the singing is anything to do with the football or not we have no idea, but it looked a lot more fun in the away end, where a small group of Kisvarda fans were making a racket in the smaller, but classic stands. The football on offer was less than good, matching the quality of the beer. The schnitzel burger was pretty good though.
Back in Gyor we had a few minutes to kill before heading to Sopron, so nipped in to the Royal Belgian Beer Cafe and Restaurant. Stumbling upon our second birthday party of the trip we were greeted by a waitress who could barely conceal her contempt at our lack of a reservation as she called “Hallo” repeatedly after a bewildered Ralph who had dared to walk further than the welcome mat. Her disappointment was cemented after discovering we would only be drinking, and a Hungarian lager at that. We were placed, neglected, at the bar and forced to stare at the glass cleaning facilities. As we left she she attempted to show interest and asked us where we were from. Before I could answer, Ralph referred solely to himself and said, “Wales”. “Ah Wales”, she replied, “Guinness!” … I laughed, we left.
A 30 minute train journey away, Sopron, although no less beautiful, is a little smaller than Gyor and provides less in the way of evening entertainment. The friendly staff at our (rather posh) hotel, Pannonia, directed us to an English-style pub for dinner, where we ingested more than should be allowed and set of in search of a more lively hole to spend the evening in. After some walking with little luck, we ended the evening warmly in a busy Croatian pub where the barmaid amused herself with our attempts at the Hungarian language.
The weather over the whole weekend was beautiful and we took full advantage of it by exploring the city the next day, grabbing a beer in the morning sunshine after a fulfilling hotel breakfast of cheese and sausages. We dodged armies of tourists and even took a couple of photos for them, but our offers of our own personal tour were turned down. We had a quick look a the FC Sopron stadium, watched a bit of training then headed back to Gyor for a couple more beers before our bus back to Brno, ending putting the full stop on an excellent trip to north west Hungary. Next stop, Rosice – for the the first Blansko away game of the season.