Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lake Balaton

Norm: Before telling you about the Balaton, you might get a kick out of this story:
In my never ending quest to find Root Beer in Hungary, I got on line and punched into my browser..."Root Beer Hungary". Well that got me into a site for the Balaton Cafe. OK lets check out their menu. Sure enough, right there in black and white on the menu was Root Beer. Now I know from Pécs, the Balaton is only a 2 1/2 hour drive. Now for a Root Beer starved individual such as I, a drive of that distance for a good mug would be well within the realm of possibility. But were on the Balaton? Au yes they have a map. Punch up the map as to how to find the Balaton Cafe. Sure enough, there it is.......Balaton Cafe, Authentic Hungarian Cuisine,....CLEVELAND OHIO!!

Lake Balaton is Central Europe's largest freshwater lake about 60 km long. It is a fairly shallow lake and warms quite nicely in the summer. It is a very popular tourist draw with its close proximity to Budapest, although visitors from Germany add greatly to the tourist count. Because of our limited Magyarul, we were immediately pegged as being Germans almost every time.
Hungarians love their Paprika as evidenced by the hung to dry peppers on this Paprikaház.
We only had a one night stay over, so we were determined to spend it on the lake. We found an RV Park that had lake side bungalows.

A short walk to town to buy groceries and we were all set for breakfast on the porch next morning. This was mid September and we practically had the place to ourselves.

Heather: We really enjoyed our stay at this large campground. It was beautifully landscaped with flower pots everywhere (I did not download these pictures or there would have been flower pots!) Another good thing about being at Lake Balaton in September is that the mosquitoes are gone. We sat by the lake and watched the sun set, fish jumping, and a three lovely swans glide by. It was a totally refreshing and relaxing time together. We could see why the Balaton is such a popular destination for Hungarians and Germans from near by Austria! I hope we will be able to go back in the Spring when the lilacs are blooming!

Posted by Picasa

September 29 2010 New Elders in Pécs

Transfer Day. Two new Elders. Sad to see Elders Diamond and Christensen move on. Here we have our current group. Elder Mullen, New Elder Johnson (Rigby Idaho), Elder Tracy, Elder Rollingson and New Elder Crandall (Spanish Fork Utah). Our usual hangout to welcome new missionaries, the Tex-Mex Eterem.

Monday, September 27, 2010


September 27, 2010--Heather: Hungary is a treasure trove of lovely historic places to explore. One day last week we decided to take the advice of President Baughman and drive to see the old city of Veszprém. King Stephen gave this city to his wife Queen Gisela as a wedding present in the 13th century. Now that is what I call a wedding present! The header picture on our blog this time is a view of the city from the castle wall. The castle dominates the city from its place on a high rocky crag.

We met Elders Mason and Paas while there and had a delightful lunch with them. We enjoyed serving with Elder Mason in Pécs a few months ago. Elder Paas is from Estonia. He is the only member of his family in the Church and is a very dedicated missionary. Norm and the Elders are standing in front of a Trinity Column. Every city of any consequence in Hungary has a Trinity Column to commemorate the deliverance from a plague during medieval times. This one is very grand and imposing.

After visiting the Veszprém Branch House, which is a very lovely spacious building, we drove to Tihany on the Balaton Lake. This is the famous Abbey of Tihany. The original abbey was built in 1055 by King Andrew I for the Benedictine monks. It is situated on a peninsula that juts out into the beautiful blue water of the lake. The Abbey has important historical significance in Hungary. The deed of the foundation of the abbey contains the first written record of the Hungarian language. The Abbey was also the last refuge of the last king of Hungary, King Károly IV. He and his wife Queen Zita retreated here after their second attempt to regain the throne in 1921. They were under house arrest here for a month or so and finally exiled to England. The room they stayed in is furnished in the period and gives the account of their time there.

All that remains of the original Gothic structure is the crypt containing the tomb of King Andrew. The columns are large and rough hewn and a small window gives some light. The original building survived the Turkish invasion only to be blown up in the early eighteenth century by order of the Hapsburg Emperor -- such a shame! We were able to see some of the old relics on display including this one holding the hat! The Benedictine monks are back in the monastery now. While we were there the bells rang calling them to their prayers and we had the pleasure of hearing them sing their very old chants. There was also a fascinating display of photography taken during the Soviet occupation that gives a wonderful pictorial account of the lives of the people of the area during that period of time. As you can tell, this excursion brought out the history buff in me and I thoroughly enjoyed our our mini vacation.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pécs Branch Arts and Crafts Fair

Fun with paper mache. Kira said lets make a rabbit. Great idea!! Balloons and paper towel rolls make cheap armatures. Well our rabbit came out looking somewhat like the Energizer Bunny. That will never do. Hmmmm he kinda looks like a couple of fellows we know......Got a better idea. With a little modification we could turn him into....... ah ha how about.....
..........THE ENERGIZER ELDER. Elders Mullen and Diamond second the motion.
Plisz Beatrix was in charge of the fair and set up this lobby display of the Branch talents. Fair concluded with an evening of piano recitals, poems story telling and folk dancing and would you believe Elder Diamond gave us a speed course in Rubic Cube etiquette.
Our Center for Young Adults prepare for the fair with instruction in the art of making Dream Catchers
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Car Nuts all over the World

This posting is for my car nut friends back home. Have you noticed that whenever there is a car show it rains. Reminds me of the car auction back in Okotoks years ago. About 100 vintage cars were on display on the main square. Here are a few of the more impressive big iron, mainly Ford, Buick and Chevy, but the real treat was the vintage European not seen too often.

Love this 3 wheeler,but don't ask me what it is. Raining too hard to stick around to find out.

I would have guessed this 3 wheeler to be of the 40's vintage, but was surprised that it was a 1970 model.

A Skoda....? We drive a Skoda. Until 10 months ago, I had never heard of a Skoda. Look at this little beauty. Looks like a mini Model A. The Skoda is made in the Czech Republic. Company started by a pair of brothers who had a bicycle shop in 1895 and started making motorcycles and switched over to cars in 1924.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kristóf performs Dom Ter

Péc Branch has talent. König Kristóf loves to dance and has led many of the dance routines at branch functions. His dance company from school recently performed a number of traditional Hungarian folk dances for the public on stage at the beautiful Dom Ter in Pécs.
At age 12, he is one of the senior dancers of the group and performed a solo routine that I have on video, but so far have not been able to transfer to this post, but I'm working on it and open to tutorial comment.
Performance was performed with this famous 1,000 year old cathedral as background. The Cathedral is in the final stages of a restoration financed by a grant from the Norwegian government. It is the leading landmark of Pécs.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 10, 2010

Visit to the Vinyards

Heather: We are serving in the southern section of Hungary which is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. A Mediterranean means that the growing season is very long. The last frost is in March some time and the first frost does not ususally hit until mid October. This is a perfect climate for growing grapes, watermellon, and just about anything you stick in the ground! The hills are covered with vineyards large and small. Viticulture is a very important part of the economic life in this area. On our P-day yesterday we passed lovely vineyards where the grapes are just starting to ripen. There were several large wineries or borospincs along the way. The town of Villany is in the center of this area and is devoted to wine culture with many pincs, or wine shopes, lining the streets.
The grape vines are well tented and look like they are going to have a very abundant harvest this season. The grapes are small but very sweet -- yes I tested a few.
We passed through a very quaint village that was lined with small houses or cellars. Some of them were borospincs and others looked like they might be dwellings. We had to stop and get a picture of this unique grape vine growing on the face of the small house. Of course, I had to take pictures of the flower pots which are ever present in every village no matter how small. Hungarians are very fond of flowers and they decorate lavishly with them.
Norm: This wine area is just a few killometers south of Pecs. Obviously many German people are involved in the wine industry here. Many of the villages had German names as well as Hungarian names and many signs where bilingual. Hungary is a rather popular place with the Germans for retirement, with its mild climate and cheap real estate.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Friends are Looking after Me

My OLD (emphasis on the OLD) college buddies back home are looking after me. Here we have Doug Calder and his wife Bernice and Craig Brown and his wife Karen at the Outback no less, pigging out on a BLOOMIN ONION and a Huge Mug of ROOT BEER as proxy on my behalf?
Thanks guys....I appreciate the effort .... and I hope you enjoyed it , but it somehow didn't take here in Hungary. The craving is still there and will only be satiated by us all being together. Lets plan on that happening in the near future. Today is the half way point of our mission and I love the jesture......well done guys!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wildlife of Hungary

"Where babies come from"......... Many small villages have inhabitants high in the power lines right by the highways that runs through town. These storks are huge. Can stand a good 4 foot tall. Larger than a Sand Hill Crane or a Pelican. In this photo, the father stands guard as the mother sets on the eggs. Nests are built on platforms provided by the villagers on the power poles. It is considered good luck to have a visiting stork near by. In Hungary a peony is called a gólya rózsa -- stork rose -- because peonies bloom when the storks return to nest in Hungary. The stork in this picture was out in the field hunting for food. We saw them often in the farmers fields. They probably are valued for their pest control appetite. It would take a lot of bugs, grubs, or what ever they eat to fill up those big birds!
Couldn't pass up a shot of these future mousers. Speaking of which, we have yet to see a mouse here in Hungary. Did see a rat that had had an encounter with a Michelin in a gutter. (Sorry no picture). Saw what looked like a mink in the street close to the apartment. While driving we see fox quite frequently, a badger and one time while returning from Kaposvar in the dark, a pack of wild boar crossing the road in front of us. Would not want to run over one of those in a Skoda. Expect that would give you quite a ride.
Saw egrets today but otherwise there are not a lot of bird varieties here. No robins, no hummingbirds, but maybe an occasional magpie and lots and lots of pigeons.
Posted by Picasa