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2008: Hungary

September 2008 - Flotzinger Brau  
We arrived in Munich and found our arranged bus transport and was taken to our second home! We all greeted each other warmly and I again felt very short.

We all went to the festival and we rode a huge "Ferris Wheel." Two breweries had huge tents set up to accommodate 10,000 people each! Flotzinger Brau's tent was like nothing I'd seen in not only size, but in decorations and lighting. All Bavarians wearing their dirndl's and liederhosen. Allot of singing, music, polka bands, drinking and eating.

Later on, Dirk would give us a written itinerary and verbal rundown of our Hungarian travel events, but it is a little mind-boggling for the moment. He truly missed his calling as a travel agent. We started out for Hungary the next morning. We would stop at an "Old Timers" Restaurant and ate at the nice diner. I tried to use the Internet to no avail. We were a huge hit in "Baby Blue". Many people were taking photos as we drove on the autobahn and people gathered around her at stops.
Hotel Garni  
We would arrive at a family owned "Hotel Garni" in the village of "Spitz". Our room was beautiful, allot of oak, chocolates on the nightstand. It is a full hotel as it is grape harvest time. Dirk called one of his friends, who arrived in a 1990 300SL, which was the same model as Dirks in America.

Thursday, September 11th. A very beautiful
morning. We opened the window to the glorious view of the vineyards on the hills around us. The church bells were tolling. For breakfast, we had coffee, fresh breads, meats, cheese, yogurt with granola on top and homemade Marmalade and juice. We would later take video and photos of the Blue Danube. We saw a stature of King Richard below the Castle where he had been imprisoned during the Crusades.

We had a light lunch of our favorite "Pancake Soup". We were then off again. We passed through "Wein" or Vienna and crossed over into Hungary at 3:00 P.M. We saw the old checkpoints that were still used up to 2007. We would hit Budapest at 5:00 P.M rush hour.
Guess What  

Sitting in the Imperial for long periods is hard on Imperials and can cause their radiators to overheat. Guess what - that's just what happened. We pulled over and Dirk was beside himself, stating we were in a bad place of town and had to leave before dark. So, we all to stayed together. It was serious and comical at the same time.

Dirk partially removed the radiator cap and then it erupted like a volcano! What a time not to have the video on! We used sparking water to clean the car off and a woman. A woman, who was looking out the window of her apartment, provided us still water to refill the radiator. When I stated that the apartment tenants probably viewed us as goofy Americans, Gretel looked around and then stated that one lady asked her: You speak German too?

We arrived in Hungary and stopped at their favorite Restaurant, which also became ours too. We later me the translator that Dirk had arranged for us while we were all there.

Country Roads  
On Friday, we went to Eger to register for the rally event. They presented each lady with a pink and white rose. All were very kind to all of us.

We would go back to our favorite restaurant and listened to live music, whereas a lone man on a piano-organ sang "Country Roads" in Hungarian for us. There was much dancing.

At another time, many were watching Formula One Racing on TV, until Jabba changed the channel. An uproar ensued. What have you done Jabba! He looked around and changed the channel again and again, each time stoking more uproars. The uproar stopped when he landed on a channel with beautiful women. The uproar stopped. Then he changed the channel back to the Formula One race. Another uproar ensued. Poor Jabba, he didn't understand that the one thing men prefer more then a Formula One is beautiful women.
European Coat   
(Valerie at sunset in the beautiful city of Eger and in a beautiful Eastern European coat. The interviewer asking me questions after the Race. Two ladies were so proud of their heritage and the fact that we were Americans. Valerie was so brightened up by all and those she met would light up too. She's just has a way with people, wherever they live).    
Mezokovesd, Kacs, Tibolddaroc, Mezokeresztes & Tardi  
Saturday: The Eger Rally. We were routed in front of the Basilica through the starting gate, directly behind Dirk and Gretel in their Opel. 

Lacaria? Ah, We drove our rare American Flagged 1959 Imperial that represented the epitome of America's famed 1950's. With our translator in the passenger's seat and his wife and I in the back, we started the ten hour rally. The translator's wife softly sang in Romanian. So softly, all were dozing off too.

Our fist stop was "Mezokovesd" at a tractor museum. We met Dirk's friend who owns 100 cars. He had arranged  sleeping train tickets for us for our trip from Budapest to Munich when it was our time to leave. He had a 1933 Mercedes Nurburg, which is the only roadworthy one in existence and its in such great shape.

Our next stop was in "Kacs" at an old water mill. The following one was in "Tibolddaroc" at a wonderful wine cellar and a big garden, which had a table with items to identify. Before we left, I was brought a bottle of wine - "this is for you."

The next one was in "Mezokeresztes" where each driver had to drive an orange cone obstacle course. The front seat co-pilot had to hold a large cup of water out of the window without spilling it. He was so nervous, he kept telling Anthony to stop and do no more. When then had a restaurant stop which gave pizza, coke, and iced tea.

The next stop was in "Tardi" where three women in traditional Hungarian clothing greeted us and took photos. It was Anthony's favorite stop.

Our sixth stop was in "Bogacs" where we ate real Hungarian goulash, fresh brad and coffee. So wonderful.
U.S Jeep   
Though our friends would take us to places few Americans had been before our memories are forever ingrained with the site of a couple in American military outfits in their restored U.S. Military Jeep parking beside us at the Tractor Museum. They were so proud. The more we were in Hungary, the more we realized that the Hungarians have a great deal in common with us and the Americans that live in the southeastern United States. 
American Flag Pin  
Sunday. We made it Eger by 9 A.M. for the parade from the registration area to the "Dobo terindowntown Eger". Once we were driving slowly to the "Dobo ter", I jumped out to video the procession. It was cold again and I wore Gretel's black quilted coat. All went very well.

Afterwards, we went to an outdoor cafe. I showed Lonzio our photo book an spoke to hem as well as I could. Last night he was speaking about the hurricane and watching CNN. He seem to love my black cowboy boots and felt my ankle to see how high they were. He was also fascinated with my double American Flag pin on my jean jacket lapel. I took it off and put it in his hand, folding his hand around it. He was very touched, as he was seemed to be enamored with America.

We made our way to the stage as the awards were about to begin. Anthony's name was called. So he and our translator went forward. All was being filmed by a News Station, as well as many photographs were taken. The trophy was very unique. It was part of a transmission that had been retooled. As I was videoing I was guided by my right arm through the crowd to a better vantage point. All was very professional.

(We won second place in Eger's Land Rally. The man on the left won first place. However, we later found out that Eastern European men do not smile during such an award event. So, we ruined his event picture).
(We and our friends wearing our West Virginia shirts at Eger, Hungary, King Ludwig's Castle, West Virginia and Mezokeresztes, Hungary. Eger, Hungary is historically known for its Christian populace who held off the Muslim Turks for a very long time).  
Hungarian Vest  
Later, at our favorite restaurant one of the owners met us at the parking lot. He had a beautiful handmade Hungarian vest for me, made by his grandmother. It was lovely. Later, when he brought us our drinks, I pressed 20 Euros in his hand and made him take it. He did not want to take it. He then said ok.

We were tired from the rally, but one of Dirk's friends rejuvenated everyone with his impersonations. We would say our goodbyes to all and when I kissed Dirks friend on both sides of his face and hugged him - he looked at Dirk and smiled, making an ok sign to him. He also seemed to really like Anthony as well. I hugged our translator and his wife tightly, thanking them for putting up with us. We all parted ways, better for the friendships we'd formed.

On Monday we went to the hot baths, each area had varying degrees of water. It was like a resort area and had lovely gardens and walking paths and a nice lake as well. There was also a cavern that had wonderful acoustics and low lighting with decorations on the ceiling that looked like stars.
Our next stop was the castle "Lillafured". It was very beautiful and elegant and I could picture in my mind the royal parties and the dancing that took place there. We found an Internet spot, but it wouldn't work. We could not believe the difficulty we always face just to find an internet spot.

Some days later we met Dirk's mechanic. A former police sergeant, who will carry us to Budapest in his car, show us the sights and be our interpreter. We will then enter the train in the evening. I would buy the girls authentic tops and vests - handmade little dolls. I also found a beautiful black handmade shawl with perfect embroidery. Later on we walked from Dirk's home to the "Hot Spa" and picked some plums from Georgie's tree on the way. We met several couples from Germany, who happen to be their acquaintances.
What Are You Doing Here?   
(One lovely lady, as my friend termed her, looked confused. You are from America? Yes. What are you doing here? Why you have a very beautiful country. She smiles).

Wednesday. We stopped for gas at a "Tesco" and some local police officers swung into the station to see the Imperial. We the travelled to the Hungarian "Puszta" which is a prairie type of land. It can be 110 degrees in the summer and react on people the same as in the desert, causing hallucinations. The home are modest with big barns for their animals and hay. On the way we saw a tank left behind by the Russians, when they relinquished control of Hungary.

We even saw the land of the storks - many live her and the town even puts special circle wrought iron structures on top of the utility poles so they can make their nests. They are migrating south to Africa now but we were lucky enough to video some. We made it to a large horse barn. A couple from England were also there.

Three men, wearing the traditional clothing rod in, cracking whips in the air as they rode. The horses were trained not to be afraid of the whip noise, so as not to be afraid of gun shot during battle. It was super. Then they asked for audience participation and of course Dirk volunteered me. It to was wonderful and I also wore my cowboy boots today.
Black Belts

As I am writing the church bell here in Bogacs tolls every hour, all day every day, but not in an overpowering way. Its nice. We stopped at our favorite restaurant for the last time. We all hugged for the last time. I gave Gretel a deck of WV playing cards and a WV key chain to give to him when we were gone.

Anthony, Gretel and I are working on the goulash. I cut up the vegetables, Gretel the meat, Anthony the firewood.

Next, Dirk took Anthony and I next door to Georgie to see his chickens. He had 14, (2 white and 12 brown). He talks to his chickens everyday. Georgie always refers to himself in third person. I gave them two WV shot glasses as gifts.

Another man and his son arrived for goulash. His son collects stamps. I gave him a 101 Dalmatians stamp from a postcard, a U.S $1.00 bill and four "U.S State" quarters too. My WV gifts were all given out. I told him that my sons Daniel and Anthony were black belts. He said my dad is too with such pride. Someone mentioned a U.S pen pal for him. Dirk actually suggested someone from our Baptist church.

(Valerie, holding one of Georgie's prized possessions. An animal pelt. Georgie would give Dirk a thumbs up. Later on, one of the most powerful men in Hungary would cry. Overwhelmed that Germans, Americans, Romanians and Hungarians were all at one table. Later asking if I knew Jay Leno).

Opera House  
Each morning I awake to a rooster crowing at about 5:00 A.M. He then proceeds to crow all morning until early afternoon. He's the most messed up bird I've ever heard.

We were then taken to Budapest. Some of the places seen; the Basillica, St. Matthews Church, The Opera House, Parliament. The huge square called Hero's Square. We made it to the train station at 6:45 and after an overnight ride we made it to the Munich Airport. We went through security and the security people loved our hamster playing the accordion stuffed animal.

Lufthansa is A1, superb care. We are now almost to Washington Dulles Airport. 
(My friend Bogac’s was a wonderful home amongst wonderful people. I believe he had hoped that Valerie and I would purchase the home someday, as he viewed Hungary secure, capitalist driven with a strong rule of law.

He never realized that we couldn't visit Hungary again after 2014 and I never explained why. In any regard, the home was sold to a Chinese citizen in late 2018. One of many that were now purchasing property in some of the areas we had visited, so the "Americans" will be forgotten in time.

For us, we will hold onto the memories of an adventure that led us around the world to meet those of good heart that were reminiscent to the same found in America).

Next: Chicago & Route 66