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Family that Lives Far Away But Always Close to Our Hearts

Day 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 Veszprém

sunny 25 °C

After a lovely first night so warmly embraced by family and fed until we almost popped (and Hungary won!), we spent a truly special six days in Veszprém - time that was way beyond anything we could have expected or had hoped for, and will always cherish.

My Mum was born in Szengál, a town close to Veszprém (an hour and a half by train, south west of Budapest) where my relatives all now live. It was a wonderful feeling to drive down the same driveway to familiar sights from when I was here the first time as a skinny 11 year old in 1972 or as a curly haired (still skinny) backpacker in 1985 sporting a very impressive Dennis Lillie moustache!

My first cousins, Láci and Váli, brother and sister, live as neighbours with their families, back to back, with a path joining the two homes beneath cherry trees laden with delicious ruby fruit.

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My Aunty Esti lives close, only 6 doors up the street.

We stayed with Láci and his partner Éva.
We were treated to visits to Lake Balaton,

the castle at Sumeg,
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the castle and old part of Veszprem,
Tihany, Kesenthy and Herend.

Herend is famous for its fine porcelain factory, an enduring industry in the area, operating since 1826 and is one of the world's largest ceramic factories. Both Váli and her daughter Váli have worked there, helping to craft the beautiful fine porcelain. We were treated to a wonderful tour by the artists, showing us how they create the pieces, from filling moulds with porcelain, forming the figures, cutwork, glazing, painting and decorating.


My Mum has many many beautiful Herend figurines and tableware - even I was responsible for bringing a few magnificent Herend figurines to Australia in 1972 - smuggled out of the country under the noses of Soviet Customs Officers in a purpose built oversized overcoat - who would suspect a skinny little kid sneaking national treasures out under their noses! Mum loves them all, treating each one as if it is a treasured pet. Jen and I even possess a couple of special pieces, gifted by Mum for our wedding. The factory and museum tour was amazing and we saw a number of pieces that are sitting in my Mum's loungeroom. Each piece is individually crafted and painted so are quite the collectors items. I bought Jen a brooch and Váli and Váli bought here a pendant, a treasured memento.

These Harlequins are about three feet tall and are collectors items, retailing for about $20,000.

We also visited thermal hot water springs at Hévíz. Being Aussie, when presented with a large body of water in which to swim and appropriately attired in swimming costumes, naturally, Jen and I - swam. Gleefully swimming around the entire lake. Apparently however, "swimming" is not the done thing. Hévíz has therapeutic qualities and is high in many compounds including sulphur with medicinal, healing, restorative and preventative properties. Accordingly, older Hungarians afflicted with the usual aches and pains of ageing, often with the prescription of their GP (enabling them a discounted entry fee) soak in the lake.
Most Hungarians can't swim so they all float about in the water with their rubber pool noodles - not really doing anything, elaborate hairstyles are safe as not a splash of water is created, and even very little conversation. It seems Jen and I caused some consternation amongst the locals as we free-stroked our way around. We believe complaints may have been raised as the resident lifeguard was sent over to hover over us to calm us down - and communications over the two-way about those "Englishpeople" [in Hungarian] was fairly self evident.

The sulphur turned our silver rings the most amazing burnished gold colour!

The food was amazing and Jen loved the traditional home cooking delicacies Váli, Váli, Láci and Éva kept bringing out for us. Each meal I had was like stepping back in time with memories of my childhood and my Mum's cooking - even breakfast was a trip down memory lane
Things like: letcho, langos, fish soup, palacsinta, kolbasz, fresh bread, fresh cherries off the tree, paprika chicken with nokedli, gulyás soup, chicken soup, meat soup, egg soup, cherry strudel, walnut strudel, Apple strudel, shredded cabbage soup. I even had tripe! Each dinner meal would also start with either a shot of Parlinka or Unicom, both were to kick start the digestive system and aid in good health, or so everyone tells us.

Jen and I concocted our lunch one day unsupervised from Hungarian leftovers out of the fridge. The family was incredulous about what we did and how ridiculous it was. It tasted good to us! Food is a great passion of everyone - particularly keeping true to the traditions. Everyone is a great cook.

One afternoon we received a cooking tutorial on a few of our Hungarian favourites to make when we get home. Láci even sourced a Hungarian Cooking Book for us so we're all set to attempt to recreate the wonderful flavours at home, bring a little part of Hungary with us.

The real highlight was the special time with my relatives and extended family.

I spent time with my cousin Tündi and her mother Mimi Neni who I met the past two times I was Hungary and always had fond memories.
We also met my other cousins and their family for the first time, Károly and Kornél.

Károly and his wife, Lilla's darling daughter Janka, found a new play thing. Jen didn't speak Hungarian, Janka didn't speak English but delighted in saying Jen's full name, escorting her around the house all night, explaining the toys, counting, showing Jen the fish and so on.

We visited the cemetery in Szengál where my grandparents, uncles and aunties now rest in peace.


We saw the farm area where my mum and her siblings grew up, wandering along the creek where Mum and her sisters would play, including a game, throwing a shoe in at the top of the creek and chasing it down hill to the bridge.


Jen did a fantastic job of conversing with my relatives - acquiring a few Hungarian words during our stay - mostly beverages and Yes and No. Jen was also able to extract a very comprehensive family tree covering about five generations. I cannot thank Jen enough for developing this and for how she so easily settled in, quickly becoming comfortable with my relatives. Also special thanks to my relatives for treating her so warmly and making her feel very much part of the family.

I spent some special time with Aunty Esti who still has a spring in her step, looks after a beautiful garden and has a great zest for keeping busy.
Her darling dog is a great companion.
She also runs around at 100 m/ hr just like my Mum. It was great to spend time with Láci, Éva, Váli, Váli, Tamás, Boti and Laura.
Even BB-8 dropped by.
We chatted, joked, reminisced, shared photos, drank Parlinka, ate delicious food until our tummies almost exploded and enjoyed each others company.

A grand family dinner was arranged on the Saturday night bringing the whole family together, watching Hungary play Iceland, football in the back yard.
Everyone, including Moxie, had a great time!

It has been 30 years since I was here and I promise it won't be 30 years the next time I am back. Jen loved the way we were so warmly welcomed into their homes and for going out of their way, taking time out of busy lives for the 6 days.

Sadly we said our goodbyes, took some photos with family identical to where I stood 46 and 30 years ago.
1972 and Now
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1972, 1985 and now
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I hope they come out to Australia one day so Jen and I can return their generosity and hospitality.

Our train got delayed for 20 minutes so we had some final time together, delaying our final goodbyes, at the train station. During the delay, Váli, Váli and Laura struck upon the idea to accompany us on the train to Szekesfaharvar, and have a day trip, so we extended the goodbyes for another hour, very sweet.

We then made our way back to Budapest and caught an afternoon train to Zagreb to start our driving holiday in Croatia and Bosnia.

Köszönöm mindenkinek a mi idő Veszpremen.

Posted by tszeitli 23:27 Archived in Hungary Tagged food history family special legacy generations

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I especially love this post! I went back to China in 2007 for the first time after leaving in 1998. The returning was much more dramatic than I could have ever anticipated. Can't imagine how you must have felt. Btw, Jen looks lovely in the green army hat with a red star. :-0) Did you get a Chairman Mao pin? You are supposed to wear those two items together to complete an outfit! Now I crossed BB8 off the list. Now still need to see R2D2 somewhere on your journey.

by Angela Zheng

We knew you'd love BB-8!
Visiting the homeland of my family was a truly special opportunity. No, no Mao pin. Hope all is great in your world.

by tszeitli

Hi Jen & Tom, looks like you're having amazing trip! We're enjoying your blog and b'ful photos. Nerida is especially touched by this post - reconnecting and meeting new family members. It's easy to take our time with family for granted... Also love the recreated pics! x

by David & Nerida

Hey David and Nerida - yes, trip is amazing, as we knew it would be. We love that the blog will be a record for us to look back on when we get home. It will be impossible to choose a single highlight, but time with Family is right up there. Hope all is going well with you. Hugs Jen & Tom xoxo

by tszeitli

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