Statue in Gyor
A statue of a man in a boat, on the streets of Györ

May 22, 2001
Györ, Hungary

Everyone in Györ is young and in love. The weather is balmy, the flowers are blooming, and every park bench has a couple locked in passionate embrace. Everywhere. When I finally found a clear bench to sit down and read a newspaper, a couple promptly sat down on the bench next to me and made sloppy kissing sounds. I moved.

We left Mosonmagyaróvár early this morning, packed up with food and smeared with sunscreen. The ride was uneventful, flat, on a bike path that ran alongside a road. This time of year, fields of beautiful red flowers are in bloom. Also, a certain kind of tree is releasing white puffs of seeds that float in the wind. In some places, they filled the air like snow and blow into piles of cotton on the sidewalk. Along the ride today, Dave and I made conversation about our friends and families.

After biking through Györladamer, Györzámoly and Györújfaln, we reached Györ at noon. Our hotel sits on the outskirts of this small city, and our room is at the end of a long, maze-ish hallway. I washed my clothes in the sink, Dave took a shower, and we split up for the afternoon.

Dave got the idea yesterday that he wanted a massage - a fixation that arose yesterday in Mosonmagyaróvár where he saw signs advertising massages. I said I was uncomfortable with the idea, but told him to go ahead and get one. He found an English-speaking store clerk, and, after a purchase and some short conversation, Dave asked where in town he could find a massage. There was an uncomfortable pause. "A sport massage" Dave clarified. The clerk was relieved - he thought Dave was looking for sex. This awkward moment effectively ended Dave's search for a backrub.

Meanwhile, I was exploring. I walked out on an island park where bathers were soaking in hot baths. It looked so relaxing I wished I had brought a towel and swimsuit. The rest of Györ was well kept and seemed new. The exception was an ancient cathedral, which, like a geode, was dull stone outside but sparkling with gold statues and ceiling paintings inside. There are more buses and cars in the streets here than in other towns, and it seems populated with a variety of students.

I browsed the shops for some unique Hungarian items to carry home, but found little I couldn't buy in the U.S. One store, interestingly, had colorful children's toys on display in its window alongside cigarette lighters and a handgun. I bought an English newspaper and ice cream. I also spent 1/2 hour sending e-mail in an Internet cafe.

Dave and I had dinner in Györ - I got a turkey shiskabob and Dave got duck. We had Irish coffee at a small "Irish pub" next door, a smoky underground bar with college-age people in it. Dave saw a casino earlier and wanted to try it. It was shady, and made worse by being in a different language. Dave lost 20 Forint in a slot machine (roughly 2 cents) before we left.

As pleasant as these Hungarian towns are, I regret not being able to communicate with the locals. Virtually no one speaks English.

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