Eger is a town in northern Hungary, known for its castle and location in a wine producing area. The castle is famous as an important fortress during the Turkish invasions of Hungary. In 1552, during the legendary of the Siege of Eger by the Ottoman Turks, Istvan Dobo and 2,000 people (including women, who are memorialized for pouring boiling water and pitch on the attackers) are said to have held off a Turkish force of 80,000. Another legend says that Dobo fortified his defenders with the red wine that comes from the region. The legends says the defeated Turks claimed the defenders were drinking bulls blood when they saw their red stained beards and encountered stiff resistance from the defenders. Thus the local wine is now called Egri Bikavér (Bulls Blood).
Today Eger is a nice town with a thriving wine and tourism industry, and the only invaders seem to be bus loads of European tourists headed for the wine cellars. We had a few days to burn before meeting with Alexa’s mom and aunt in Budapest, so we stayed at a nice campground in the countryside on the fringe of Eger. We walked around the town and hilltop castle in the nice weather. The town has a nice, walkable, pedestrian-only core and the McDonalds even has a “walk-up window” for pedestrians.
There is also something called the Eger Eye at a university museum, a telescope which uses mirrors and a lens to project images of the town on a table inside of a dark tower on the top of the museum. The images are amazingly sharp, and it was actually very cool to be in this dark room looking at sharp, focused projections of the streets below as seen from the periscope on the tower.
Since we arrived in Europe during the spring and for the blossoming cherry trees, we finally got to taste the finished product. Our campground was in a small agricultural area, and we had many, many fresh cherries we bought from locals. In general, all the areas we have been in central Europe have had many fruit trees scattered throughout the landscape. This is especially true in Slovakia, where everyone seems to have at least three or four fruit trees, and you imagine there must be no market for fruit when they are in season. Perhaps this would also explain why there is so much brandy made from apricots and other fruits in the region…
Our camp was also next the the “Valley of the Beautiful Women”, wine cellars dug into the hillside that provide cool storage for the wine and now is a popular wine tasting area. We had traditional Hungarian food and sampled some wine between relaxing at our campground and walking around the town.
***click to enlarge photos***