Szeged is located along the southern border of Hungary, just above Romania, and is home to Szeged University, one of the best schools in the nation. I had absolutely no reason to ever go there except to see it. My colleagues at school had spent some time there while attending university and kept telling me how beautiful it was.
They were right!
I took a Thursday and headed down to check it out. It is a beautiful little city, centered, like most European cities, around a river. I got off the train and took a tram into the city, getting off in front of the Dom Ter near the main cathedral. I looked at the map to get an ida of my bearings and then started walking. The other thing about European cities is that maps lie. What appeared to be a considerable distance, in the actual walking of it turned out to be a much shorter distance than at first perceived. So I wandered.
Among the main sights to see are the central walk street with lots of shops which then abuts directly into large, green park area — a perfect college town. Plenty of places to eat and study! The walk street has some really cool sculptures (including a two part piece, with a young family on one side watching a clown/musician across the way). There’s also a water tower which looks amazing but unfortunately wasn’t open for tours when I was there.
After wandering and sight seeing, I went into the tourist information office and asked for an inexpensive recommendation for lunch. They recommended a restaurant where I could get the cuisine Szeged is famous for – Fish stew. For a land-locked country, Hungarians put a lot of stock in their fish stew (in all senses of the word). So I went to the place, called Roosevelt (yes, after the President), and was going to order the fish stew and a salad. Looking at the prices, I thought it was a bit expensive but okay. Then the waiter looked at me and after a brief discussion, decided to wait on the salad, that the soup might be enough. I figured I could eat more than a bowl of soup, but then again, I could also order a salad if I was still hungry.
There was no chance I’d still be hungry.
What came out was a six litre bogrács, filled to the brim with a red stew that smelled wonderful and a basket of bread. This was enough soup for a family of four to have a meal and leftovers and here I was, about to try and eat it myself. I was able to finish about 2 and a half bowls before admitting defeat. Yes, this left more than half of the stew still in the pot, but what could I do?
After lunch, the rain which had been threatening all day finally decided to come down so I headed back for the train. The train ride back was interesting in that I spent the entire first leg of the journey (to Orosháza, where I had to switch trains) talking to an inquisitive 10 year-old named Martin who was with his class coming home from a day trip to the Szeged zoo. Martin could speak a little English and we must have gone through every word he knew as he asked me every question he could think of in English. It was a little tiring, but fun nonetheless.
All in all, a nice way to spend the day and see a part of Hungary I’d been hearing about since I got there.