September 03, 2006

Hungary Trip--Day 6

Monday morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before getting on the bus to go downtown Kecskemet. Hanna met us at the bus station and acted as our tour and shopping guide. It was so fun to walk around--some things have changed, but much remains the same as I remembered. I did notice there are more McDonald's now! We saw all the famous buildings, took some pictures, and did some shopping for the kids. The picture here is one of the many beautiful church buildings--I think there are about seven that you can see from the Centrum--though I can't remember which denomination this one is.

We again had lunch at the P's house, this time only with Eszter, Zsuzsi's sister, and Geza, their father. Eszter was in charge of our afternoon's activities, and Hanna ended up being able to go along with us, which was lots of fun. We went to Tanyacsarda, a place that I discovered I had actually been to in 1999 with one of my former students and his fiance. We had eaten a lovely dinner at the restaurant there, but as it was dark, I hadn't seen much more than the restaurant. This time we were there in the afternoon to see a horse show!

We waited until the tour buses arrived, as we were to join with the other tourists for the show. The event began with "salty biscuits," as Hanna described them. I can't remember the Hungarian name for them, but "salty biscuits" seems to fit well. We also had the opportunity to have apricot brandy, which was "only" 40% alcohol!! Needless to say, I passed on that, though Ted managed to get a shot down! Apricot brandy is a specialty in Hungary--I had learned that during a previous trip when I did partake of some as a guest, but being early on in my pregnancy, I did not want to jeopardize our little one in any way, especially with a drink that was "only" 40% alcohol!

Then we walked to a large, fenced-in area and watched three Hungarian cowboys ride bareback with a herd of horses set loose in the area. They circled around awhile, and then the horses were taken away. We tourists were loaded onto horse-drawn carts. Since we were not part of those from the tour buses, the four of us had our own little carriage! There were four horses that pulled our cart, and they were part of the show later on--so we were special. :-)

We had quite a long ride in our carriage. You can see Hanna and Eszter here--I think they had so much fun doing this with us! We certainly enjoyed the show and being with them as well. After our ride, we returned to the starting point and found seats on the bleacher area.

We watched a number of demonstrations, the first of which was the most exciting. A cowboy stood on the backs of two horses, one leg on each horse, and guided them plus three other horses in front of the two--a five-horse show! Apparently it was a feat done previously in Austria and Germany, and a Hungarian horseman saw it and wanted to do it, so now people learn to ride this way in Hungary as well.

An interesting feature of the show was the use of whips--not for the horses, but for the sound! They made a loud popping sound, like a shotgun. Ted said it was because the end of the whip actually traveled at a speed greater than the speed of sound, thereby creating a small sonic boom. It was quite something to hear five cowboys swinging their whips in sync!

Five cowboys with single horses showed us tricks with the horses, such as having them lie down and remain still while the men sat, stood, or lay down on top of them. It was quite something to see these animals be so still and calm! I thought this pose, shown in the picture, was the most interesting, as you would likely never see a horse sitting this way on his own!

We also saw a donkey doing some similar tricks to the ones the horses had shown us, then watched a carriage pulled by "our" horses from the carriage ride demonstrating maneuvers between posts, trees, etc. We also saw Hungarian cows pulling a cart. Sounds strange to say there are different cows there, but as you can see from the picture, they look something like a cross between oxen and Texas longhorns.

After the show we got to walk through the barn and see the animals. Ted had a difficult time with his allergies. As we neared the end, a pony nudged my arm, so I started to pat his nose, only to be shocked when he tried to bite my chest! I was thankful for the clothing that stood in his way--I was not hurt badly but was definitely startled!

Later in the evening Papa Erwin found some allergy tablets for Ted, who was still having a difficult time. Papa mused that he didn't know how effective the tablets would be because Ted was "so big!" Papa joked that Ted is like two Hungarian men! Anyway, we were glad for the medicine, as Ted seemed to do better after that. In this photo with the F family you can see that Ted is indeed about twice the size of Papa. :-) From left to right in the picture: Andrea (the oldest F daughter), "Mama" Magdi, me, Ted, "Papa" Erwin, Anita, and Hanna.

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