Sunday, April 10, 2011

Koszeg, Hungary

Koszeg, Hungary, was one of those places I went because the guidebook said it was pretty and quiet, with relatively few tourists and nice natural surroundings.  There wasn't really a whole lot to do there.  I spent most of my stay wandering around the colorful center, taking short hikes, and watching the locals who congregated in the main square.

I didn't have a reservation, and there wasn't a real youth hostel, so I went to the tourist information office and they found me private accommodations.  The owner came and picked me up in his tiny car with various relatives in the back, then showed me proudly around what I would call a small hotel—several modern rooms around a white-washed and flowered courtyard.  I had my own bathroom, my own towels, my own TV (and if you're wondering why this surprised me, remember that I'm a budget traveler, and read my article on How to Stay in Youth Hostels).  I loved the place, down to the castle-like outer door, with its single-toothed key as big as my hand.  

The owner, who spoke no English, told me in German that he'd be back in the morning for the money, and bade me a cheery farewell.  At least I think that's what he told me.  I ended up having to hunt him down to pay, and he didn't seem worried at all that I would leave without honoring my debt.  That's how my whole experience with Koszeg went.  One beautiful moment after another. 

The more I travel, the more I'm aware of how my opinion of a place relies less on the sites and objective attractions than it does on the individual, small-scale experiences I have there:  the people I meet, the afternoons I spend in parks, the little local events I happen upon and don't understand a word of.  I say that some towns call to me and others don't.  Well, Koszeg absolutely sings. 
For more on Koszeg, read my article on

Beautiful illumination, Koszeg, Hungary

Heroes' Gate

Main Square, Koszeg, Hungary

The actual functioning key to my accommodations 

My peaceful hotel courtyard

I love Europe:  keyholes you can actually spy through,
hotels with creaking wooden doors, the feel of history everywhere.

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