Hungarian National Gallop

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What a day!

Last night we went out to a friend's house - way out in the outskirts of the Buda countryside (Budapest, as you may not know, is divided into two areas by the Danube: Buda and Pest; - and, well, technically Obuda as well. Buda has the hills and is more drenched in history and has more of a rolling countryside once you get out of the main tourist/city sections. Pest, on the other hand, has the other major downtown tourist areas, but also runs out into factories, suburb-type areas, and apartment buildings on the outskirts of town left over from the Communist era. It's also divided into 23 districts. So, basically, it's a huge city.). It took us about an hour to get there from our dorm (way out in Pest) to where he lives, but it was worth it.

He lives on the first floor of his parents house (which is technically a 3 level house, that has been made into apartments on each level - with him and his roommate on the first, his parents on the second, and his sister and her family on the third) in this really, really sweet apartment. There were probably about 20 of us there and we had food, wine, and a lot of really good conversation. Everyone is now done with their theses, and therefore a lot more happy and relaxed.

Let me tell you one thing - if you haven't tried Hungarian Palinka, you really, really need to. While it's strong, it's delicious. And it is traditional to Hungary and can only be produced with a certain procedure, fruits, and times to be actually considered palinka.

Then, today we went to the Hungarian National Gallop. I'm just going to type out the except from the handout, because it explains it best:

This is huge! This is really something! It's the National Gallop, they grandest of festivals on the grandest of scales! It's a new Hungarian invention, a monumental reinvention of history and tradition. Just imagine, Heroes' Square, transformed into a racetrack with 6,200 square meters' worth of special, equine-friendly sand. (...)And they're off! Young jockeys, modern-day hussars on horseback, dirt is flying, the crowd is cheering. Again and again, since as many as 250 horses and riders will compete for the 30-million-forint cash prize, a glittering sword, and national glory.

So, they take Heroes' Square, a major tourist attraction and historical monument, and turn it into a racetrack for 4 days. They close down major streets, vendors and food sellers come in. Every region in Hungary is represented by a booth, food, and a horse & rider. It's pretty awesome, as Hungary has an amazing tradition of horsemanship. The Hussars were a huge part of Medieval Hungarian tradition and since then, the horse has been a powerful symbol of the nation. I'd read up on it, if you have the time and inclination, as it really is a remarkable history!

I'm not going to bore you with more talk, I'll just show you the pictures of my day at the 'races':

Heroes' Square like you've never seen it before

Hungarian sausage

Chicken and vegetables

Horse cake for the races :)

The Hungarians love their meats

smoked knuckle
a traditional Hungarian dish


  1. Oh wow, amazing photos! I love the horse cake and the last photo! Do you have more pictures of the horses? It must have been so fantastic to be there!!

  2. What an amazing feast of goodies, and that horse cake is funny! You're having the best experiences there!

  3. Sounds like a great weekend...stories like these make me miss living abroad.

    We spent our weekend working in the yard and getting our house ready for company this week. A festival in Hungary sounds like way more fun!

  4. oh sounds like so much fun!! Miss you!! Are you coming to TN this summer?

  5. This makes me hungry now! :)Love the pictures girl.

    Have a fab day girl.

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