The last excursion of our ReConnect Hungary trip was to Debrecen, the country’s second-largest city.
Along the way, we stopped at Hortobágy National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, Hungarian herders are famous for riding five horses at the same time. Apparently they saw it depicted in a German painting and thought to themselves, “we can do that!”
What, like it’s hard?
We were put into horse-drawn carriages and driven around the park. After hearing that this was a national park, I expected waterfalls and forests. Instead, Hortobágy National Park is made up of “grassland,” which really means fields and fields of… nothing.
Did I mention that it was 105 degrees outside without a single tree to offer shade?
These were the only interesting things that we saw:
So this was my face the entire time:
Clearly Hortobágy National Park isn’t my thing! Although, a few days after we were there, a landmine exploded killing several people, so clearly the trip could have been worse!
After a very long and very hot day, we made it to Debrecen and immediately climbed into a fountain to cool off. Now this is my thing!
The next day our ReConnect Hungary group was given a tour of the city. It was still very hot (Debrecen is known as the city where the sun shines, and I believe it!), so our tour mostly consisted of moving from shaded area to shaded area while quickly passing areas of significance.
Debrecen is very green and has beautiful parks which almost make up for the heat.
My favorite park is located at the University of Debrecen. It’s gorgeous!
The University building itself is pretty beautiful too!
So of course we had to take a Puli picture. In typical fashion, here’s a shot of us yelling at Noel to stop messing around and come get in the picture!
And here is our frame-able family portrait of the Pulis and our Hungarian guides Bibi and Eszter. I miss them all so much!
If you’re wondering just what type of characters I was traveling with, these pictures should give you a good idea!
Our last organized experience of the trip was a cool one. We headed to Táncház, a folk dance house, for dinner and dance lessons.
We were greeted by a beaming woman in traditional dress bearing a tray of pálinka. Yes, please!
In addition to the welcome pálinka, this man sang us a welcome song. To be fair, it was in Hungarian, so I’m not entirely sure that it was a welcome song. But he seemed friendly enough!
For dinner we were served stuffed cabbage. Normally I don’t care for the dish, but they way that they cooked it was fabulous! I even got up for seconds!
There’s actually a stuffed cabbage in the middle of the plate too, buried under a massive heap of sour cream. Hungarians do love their sour cream!
After dinner it was time to (learn how to) dance! The gentlemen began by showing us a botoló, which is a men’s stick dance.
We were then shown a partner dance.
And then we were taught the partner dance!
Pálinka was flowing during this time, and most people ended up doing at least 7 shots. One shot is enough to make you tipsy, so you can imagine how people were feeling (and dancing!) by the end of it!
It was fun learning different Hungarian folk dances (and… umm… having Noel as my partner…).
You know the phrase “yaaaasss queen!”? Well, for some reason (I’m still not sure how this started, I think Alex is to blame!), the Hungarian translation of the phrase (igen királynö) became our catch phrase for the trip. So everywhere we went, when someone did something awesome (or for no reason at all) we would exclaim “igen királynö!” Needless to say, there were a lot of yelled “igen királynö”s during the dancing!
After dancing our little hearts out, we headed to a park in Debrecen to watch Hungary play Belgium in the Euro 2016.
I think there were fires started at some point. Hungarian fans are intense!
Even though Hungary ultimately lost to Belgium (and were thus eliminated from the Euro 2016), it was still a fun, crazy game in a fabulous city.