Friday, 10th August 2018
Our fifth train of this trip, departing at 08:23, took us on a two and a half hour journey to the city of Debrecen.
Debrecen is the centre of the Northern Great Plain region and was the largest Hungarian city in the 18th century. As the site of the uprising, it is an important cultural centre and was the capital city during the Hungarian Revolution [1848–1849] when Lajos Kossuth declared the dethronement of the Habsburg dynasty in the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen. At the end of World War II Debrecen served as the capital of Hungary [1944–1945].
The Protestant Great Church of Debrecen provides quite a striking contrast to the decorative excess of Budapest’s Catholic St Stephen’s Basilica we visited yesterday.
Debrecen currently has a population of 318,000. To put that into perspective, we live in Bromley, a commuter suburb of London, with a population of 309,000. In fact, Debrecen is about the size of Bromley, but is much quieter and there is little indication that it is home to that many people. The streets in the centre of town are restricted to trams and cyclists.
It is a university town and the peace is perhaps in part due to the student summer break.
It has the feel of a spa town and there is in fact a spa hotel, which we have not visited. There is some attractive art nouveau architecture, including the Hotel Aranybika, and several fountains help to make it seem cooler than the 32º it actually is.
The Volt Egyszer cafe was recommended and iced coffees were ordered. Matilda cannot believe she forgot to get the photographic evidence that Robert does, on occasion, drink something other than beer.
Our hotel looks like a Spanish hacienda round a courtyard and is obviously a wedding venue. We have a four poster bed with drapes so may even have been allocated the bridal suite.
The city is quite compact and we walked round most of the central landmarks in a relatively short time. The heat is still influencing our decisions and when in Hungary, what else is there do do but drink Belgian beer? Belga is like a German beer keller inside with arched stone alcoves and an outside covered courtyard where the canvas accommodates a well-established tree.
Lesson for the day: ignore Andy Goold, who messaged us this trip with “eat something green and drink red wine occasionally, instead of lager, to be healthier.” Raspberry beer is red and contains fruit, it also combines alcohol, which is a carbohydrate, so must be one of your five a day, surely?