Today we crossed the border into our sixth country, Hungary. The border crossings so far have been nothing more than a sign indicating you’re in a new country since all the countries we’ve been in are part of the European Union and have signed a treaty called the Schengen Agreement. This treaty basically removes border controls between signatory countries. The other convenient thing for travelers is that many EU countries use the same currency, the euro. For the countries we’ve visited France, Germany and Slovakia use the euro while the UK, Czech Republic and Hungary still use their own currency, the British pound, koruna ceska and forint.
Our first night and day in Hungary was spent in an adorable village called Holloko. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The two street cobblestone village has white washed houses with dark wood trim, tiled roofs and flower boxes filled with red geraniums. The village also has a beautiful church and an impressive castle ruin. The women are dressed in folk costumes and you can walk around the village exploring the little shops with hand woven linens, woodcarvings and other handcrafts. I loved it!
Like all good villages, Holloko has a legend that has been passed down orally from generation to generation. According to the ancient legend a warlord captured a beautiful young lady and locked her up in his nearby fortress. Unbeknownst to the warlord was that the young woman’s nurse was a witch. The witch, discovering what had happened, sought the help of the devil to free the young maiden. The devil transformed his offspring into the shape of ravens. After rescuing the beauty, the ravens demolished the fortress and constructed Holloko castle on the cliff overlooking the village using stones from the demolished fortress. The ravens as guardians of the maiden watched over her as she ruled the area from her castle. The women of Holloko are descendents of that beauty and are said to have magical powers over men.
From Holloko, we drove east to Eger, a town famous for it’s wine, specifically Bikaver (Bull’s Blood). The area where the vineyards are located is intriguingly called The Valley of the Beautiful Women. I didn’t have to twist Stani’s arm to go there! We stayed in a campground called Tulipan Kemping owned by a real character that I nicknamed Sadam. He claimed that his wine was the best in all the valley. I think he was shocked when my facial expression told otherwise when I had a taste. We did however discover some really delicious wines, both red and white, in one of the wine cellars in the valley.