Strange Animals

By Jane Mountain | May 19, 2013

2071 km so far.

Hours after Stephen finished writing yesterday’s post, we are still awake, listening to half a dozen 20-something boys sing along to classic rock that was recorded 40 years ago. I don’t know what is more infuriating: their complete lack of respect for other human beings or their complete lack of originality when it comes to music.

In case you don’t know, classic rock is a special pet peeve of mine, with The Doors and The Stones being two of my least favourite bands (I know, sacrilege blah blah, but I hate them). I desperately wanted to go out give a lecture on the last 40 years of rock before telling them to shut the f up. I refrained from doing so and attempted to sleep. With the help of earplugs, we got the noise down to a dull roar and drifted off.

I Am Old. So What?

I woke up a little while later with some thumping club tunes coming through the paper-thin walls. This was marginally better, music-wise, but still… So I got up. I marched down the hall and straight amongst the group of boys who were all gathered around the computer where they were streaming the music. I waited for them to notice me.

The main offender (I assumed he was the band’s lead singer, from his general air of self-importance and obvious lack of self-esteem) reached for the volume and turned it down. I told them firmly but politely that it was sleeping time now and the music would have to stop. Met with resistance, I questioned their choice of venue.

“Is this really the best place in the whole city you could find to party tonight? Really?”

“Yes, this town is shit,” one replied.

“Well, I’m very sorry for you about that, but this is not a place for partying, it’s a place for sleeping.”

They were all silent, like they’d just been admonished by an angry school teacher. Only the lead singer spoke up.

“This music is great for everyone!” he proclaimed.

I told him that the music might be good for him, but it is not for me, and probably not for many of his friends. Some of them nodded.

The guy who I took to be the bass player (because of his air of calm, polite, thoughtfulness) then said, very politely, “Of course we will turn it off.”

I gave him my friendliest smile, said thank you, and went back to bed, feeling victorious. I also suddenly felt very old. Still, I am very old, and by 3am, I really need to sleep.

We rose slowly this morning, after our rock ‘n’ roll dance party last night. Mirko, our friend who works at the hostel, was not happy to hear of the goings-on last night, especially since he had expressly told his other guests that they could not use the computer.

As we were leaving the hostel, the rock band also got up, looking annoyingly chipper and not the least bit apologetic. Damn young people.

street art pecs hungary

I felt like this guy last night.

Everything Is For Sale

The big Sunday market in Pécs is an event many people, online and real, had recommended to us, so we decided we couldn’t miss it. Before leaving the hostel, Mirko had expressed concern for the bags on our bikes while at the market. I wasn’t too worried about it, but his warning seeped in as we rode over there, and by the time we arrived, I didn’t really feel comfortable leaving our bikes unattended.

It was one of those places that was crawling with people, so much so that we couldn’t really count on concerned onlookers to prevent theft. Anyone could have lifted anything off our bikes without a second look from the crowds. So we took turns wandering around the market. Our caution was probably not necessary, but it just felt right to be a little careful today.

Most of it was a giant flea market, with people selling junk, junk, and more junk. There were a few interesting stalls of toys, WW2 paraphernalia, and books, but for the most part, it was flea market junk.

smurfs for sale pecs hungary

The smurf merchant was not happy when Stephen took this picture.

I ventured into the food aisle, where there large hunks of breaded, fried, and grilled meat for sale. The bigger the meat, the better, judging by the lines. There were also a few stalls selling large hunks of fried dough, some spread thickly with sour cream, which looked pretty good. No goulash or paprikash seemed to be present, but I did see Amerkan mini donuts and Amerikan mini franks.

Someone should tell them nothing in Amerika is “mini”.

The most interesting and/or heartbreaking section was the animal corridor. People were selling dogs, birds, and rabbits out of their car trunks or hatchbacks. Most of the puppies seemed pretty well cared for, and no doubt had much better lives than puppy mill puppies, but it was still a little sad. Especially seeing the slightly older, less cute puppies that would probably never find a home.

chicks for sale pecs market

Fuzzy, fluffy food.

The birds and rabbits were clearly intended for food, as were the few goats tied up near the end of the row. Stephen took pictures while I stayed away, trying to concentrate on the unbridled joy in people’s faces as they cuddled the animals.

Humans are an odd bunch. We love and adore these little animals, some of which we later take great pleasure in killing and eating.

We Pay For What We Get

Compared to Slovenia or Italy, there aren’t that many roads in Hungary. I haven’t seen the need to buy a paper map yet, and we are navigating solely with Pocket Earth. Today’s ride, from Pécs to Mohács, was very short and all along one road. Being Sunday, cars were far between, but we couldn’t really picture a huge traffic rush here any day of the week. The signs banning bikes during peak hours seem entirely unnecessary.

We stopped at a small town about 15 km from Pécs for second breakfast. Once we sat down at what may have been the only restaurant in town, we realised it was lunch time. We decided to have a snack and a coffee before heading off to make our picnic lunch. I picked a jam crepe from the menu and Stephen decided to order a plate of fries, even though fries were not listed as a side dish, only as part of some veal or fish platters that seem to be common in Hungary.

As we already knew the waitress spoke only German and Hungarian, I wished him the best of luck.

The waitress came, and Stephen tried to pronounce the word that he suspected meant “fries” from the menu. The waitress smiled and looked at him blankly. So Stephen pointed to the word as it appeared within the description of the veal platter.

“Oh. Patates?”, the waitress asked.

Yes, we nodded.

“Nein patates?”, she asked, confused.

“No,” I said, quickly covering up all the other words in the description. “Patates only.” I then made a plate-sized mound with my hands. “Ja, patates.”

Now she had it. We wanted fries, of course.

She went off and we congratulated ourselves on ordering something off-menu. A little while later, she emerged from the restaurant with a couple of platters of meat. We feigned relief that they weren’t destined for our table.

A few minutes later, the waitress came back, with a big platter for us, piled high with meat and a small mound of fries. This platter was identical to the ones she’d been serving to other tables.

Oh no.

We looked at each other, not sure what to do. But taking a look at the plate, I knew there was nothing on there we would eat (except the fries) and I really didn’t want to pay for a whole lunch we didn’t order that would then end up in the garbage.

“No,” we said. “No?” she said. “No. Um…” Stephen grabbed a fry from the plate and held it up. “Just patate,” he said. “Vegetarinush,” I said, motioning towards us while trying to pronounce the Hungarian word for vegetarian. After a little more miming and cross-language talking, she really seemed to get it. Kind of. She took the platter away and Stephen followed her inside to make sure she really really got it this time.

Eventually, we got our snacks, with the waitress apologising and us apologising back and everyone feeling generally bad about what had happened. She only charged us for our drinks, fries, and crepes. We left her a big tip.

We arrived in Mohács around 4pm, unsure if we’d find a place to stay, it being the Sunday evening before holiday Monday. I’d found Centrum Panzio on the web a few days ago, and since its website made much of their love for cyclists, we headed straight there. Lucky for us, they had one room left, and it’s the nicest place we’ve stayed since… we can’t really remember. Perhaps that B&B in Urbino, Italy.

The price for this clean, quiet, private room? Exactly the same as what we paid last night. Go figure.

Tomorrow we plan to explore the EuroVelo 6 despite having been told by Mirko that the EuroVelo in Hungary is “more of a myth.” We’ve also read terrible things about it on Adam and Beth’s blog, and they were here just a few weeks ago.

I guess we’ll see for ourselves in the morning.  

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