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May 19, 2002
New uses for old Trabants

By Alex Dominguez
from the when in rome dept.

TIHANY, Hungary (JNS) _ As we plan our trip to Lake Balaton over another round of früccs, Andor discusses various modes of transportation he has seen in Hungary.

An old gypsy man he knew once cut a Trabant (a small Soviet-era East German car) in half after the motor died and used a mule to cart the back half around.

Andor said he hasn´t seen the gypsy in a while.

''Maybe the mule died,'' he said.

We decide to take his car to to the lake.

So, Saturday morning we got up earlier than we wanted to and headed to Tihany, a beautiful little lakeside town with traditional homes with whitewashed walls and thatched roofs that have been turned into restaurants and giftshops.

We ate at the Gulyasudvar _ the goulash courtyard _ under an open-air structure with a wood-roof. I had pork csarda, named for a type of informal, home-style restaurant. Two slices of tenderloin under a mountain of onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes sauteed into a paprika-laden stew.

Andor had a goose leg that appeared to have been stewed for a long time and then broiled until brown, extremely tender and delicious. G-Monez had a disappointing steak in mushroom sauce.

As we dined, Andor noted that during Hungary's empire days, ''you could travel to four seas without a passport'' _ the Caspian, the Agean, the Black Sea and the Adriatic.

Lake Balaton is almost an inland sea, long and thin and surrounded by dozens of towns. After eating, we drove down to the lakeside, dipped our feet in the water _ still too cold _ and sat on the grass, watching the sailboats go by on the on the powder-blue water.

On the way home we again passed the castle we stopped at that morning. I asked if it had ever been visited by St. George, remembering a number of towns in the area have the word for dragon _ Sarkany _ in their name.

At home again in Györ, we had a quick dinner of blood sausage, bread and Czech Budweiser beer before heading out on the club circuit, where El Conde was pleased to see Spanish music is extremely popular.

''We are distant cousins, we love the same things _ wine, horses, gypsy music,'' El Conde noted.

Posted by Alex at May 19, 2002 10:30 AM
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