Oh, Szeged, it’s been a couple of days since I left you and I think it is about time to tell our story. You are probably so overlooked by travelers and are staying in the shadow of Budapest. But let me tell you, even though I didn’t plan to visit you, I will never regret it.
You were an unexpected and beautiful surprise for me. Where should I begin our story? I should probably start as Hungarians start, so here it is…
So drinking might not have been the first thing I did in Szeged, but certainly is one of the things that happened most often. It is a good starting point in this story because it is a starting point for almost everything in Hungary. They start partying, eating and even drinking with a shot. Most often it is a shot of Unicum or Palinka (both really strong alcoholic drinks).
And after that they go on drinking other things. One of my favorite phrases due to this is now: “So you will have Unicum, and what would you have on the side of that? A beer?”. No wonder most stories from the locals start with: “We had some Unicum, beer, Unicum, beer…”.
Also, they have a variety of pretty good local wines. I managed to try those on the wine festival that was happening in the city from 13th to 17th of September. Which reminds me of the second big thing about Szeged.
The wine festival in Szeged was pretty impressive. Especially considering that the population is under 200,000 people, even with the university students. And it turned out that it is actually not the biggest wine festival the city holds. The other one is in May and is even busier.
Apart from that they also have a beer fest (or two), lots of concerts, and all kinds of other activities.
I am really not exaggerating. There is a lot happening in the city. This is probably due to all those university students I mentioned. It must not be a coincidence that most major events are held at the start and at the end of the school year, and, actually, at all other times that there are students in the city.
The following photos are an example of the cool events that happen in Szeged.
There was even more in the sky than these gorgeous hot air balloons. There was also an air show but that is way harder to catch on camera.
Also, according to the locals, Szeged has a lot of escape rooms. Probably this is also due to the students.
As I am writing this I realize I didn’t actually manage to do a lot of sightseeing in the city. Of course, I saw the Votive Church (it is really big and really hard to miss).
I saw it from other angles, too.
And I saw the river Tisza. It is actually a cool fact that the main streets in the city are following the flow of the river.
But apart from those two, I didn’t manage to really see many of the main sightseeing places. I passed by them at nighttime, but this didn’t help a lot.
I really wanted to watch the walk of the graduating students on the musical clock, but it turned out to be mission impossible for me. Since this happens only twice a day at 12:15 and 17:45 p.m. I couldn’t see it. However, this will just give me an excuse to go back to Szeged and try my luck with the clock once more.
I have left the Paprika Museum for next time, too.
However, thanks to my local guides, I learned a lot about the city. It was fully rebuilt in 1879. When the river Tisza flooded everything and the locals had to start all over again. They managed to do something amazing. Because of this disaster now the city looks completely in sync. You can tell, even without a local guide, that there is a concept behind every building and every street.
The streets are wide and there is hardly any traffic, which brings me to the next point about Szeged.
Calmness, bicycles, and sense of humor
I loved the way Szeged feels. It is just calm. There are no traffic jams, no people hurrying. It is a great place to relax and enjoy what is around you. In fact, the Hungarians almost never use the horns of their cars. Only in really extreme situations.
Also, there are bicycle lanes almost everywhere. So it is a great place if you are a fan of this means of transportation.
And there are cyclists everywhere… really everywhere.
They can’t even let you take a photo without them.
Some local shops are using the bicycle as a symbol. I feel like it might be one of the unofficial city symbols for Szeged.
Other shop owners are just funny and imaginative.
Time to talk about the food. Hungarians eat meat. A lot. All kinds and in all forms.Tripe is one of their favorites. They also have something specific from May to September (that’s what my menu said) – fruit soup. It is a cold soup made of seasonal fruits.
As I started my story with drinking, it is just fit that I finish with food. So everything else about the city you can find by yourself!
Never forget, especially if you are doing a road trip, that sometimes the most unexpected places can give you the best memories. So look twice in your rear-view mirror, just in case you might have missed something while you were planning your trip.
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