It is another beautiful sunny day on the Danube. I packed too many warm weather clothes thinking late April, early May could be cool and drizzly. It has been anything but. Daily temperatures have been in the 80s and 90s. We had a brief thunderstorm the other evening after leaving Belgrade, but otherwise it has been clear sailing.
Our first stop in Hungary is at the port town of Mohacs just inside the border. From there we took a bus to the beautiful city of Pecs (pronounced like petch). Pecs is about 45 minutes away from Mohacs. Once again I am surprised by the extent of agriculture here in the Balkans. The flat fertile plains of what was once an inland sea bed the Romans called Palonia. This area appears to encompass large areas of Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Hungary. Besides grain crops this area is famous for many varieties of wine. It seems that every little village has its own wine producers and we are told that not many are grown for export. The reason is that the focus is on quality not quantity. One variety apparently is only used locally and the
rest marketed to royal courts in Europe. Robert Mondavi should pay attention. So many of our industries in the U.S. are only focused on quality and production growth.
Pecs was selected as European Cultural capital for 2010 and it its old center is a world heritage site. Like so many other cities along our route, the first inhabitants not counting pre-historic tribes were the Romans. All along the Danube we have heard stories of Roman cities, military roads and fortifications. It is hard to appreciate the extent of the Roman Empire until one begins to see evidence of it all over the ancient western world. In Pecs there is evidence of some of the earliest Christian burial sites, one of which has been exposed right next to the city’s 1,000 year old cathedral. There is also evidence of a fair amount of religious tolerance. One of the city’s mosques build during the Ottoman years has since been converted to a Catholic church but instead of taking down the crescent moon symbol on top the parish just added a cross on top of the crescent.
The city has beautifully restored many of its 18th
century buildings. The
main square is intersected by several pedestrian only shopping and dining areas. We wandered these and stopped to have coffee and ice cream. This is absolutely a city I would love to visit again when I have time to really explore it. The advantage of a cruise is that I get to sample many different countries and cities but there really isn’t time to soak up the culture to any significant degree.
We are now back aboard Der Kleine Prinz bound up river for two days in Budapest.
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