2. Sopron
And we’re in Sopron, looking out our window at the buildings opposite. They look pretty recent, about 1760 or thereabouts. We had dinner across the road at Jegverem, which is Hungarian for Ice House, because that’s what it used to be. The Garlic soup in the cob was to live for, and very cheesy.
My eyebrow rises in a question. I use my favourite trick when I can’t breathe the air, and hold the glass of wine directly under my nose, so I smell the bouquet, not the smoke. “We’re in Europe”, Lisa said. Twenty people eating in a room, and one woman only is a smoker, who lights up whenever she pleases, because she’s a smoker, so she doesn’t know! I think it must make their brains shrink.

The Lonely Planet told us about this place, and it turns out to be over the road. We have not only garlic soup, but another favourite, chestnut mousse. I love it! Coles and Woolworths don’t understand – or care. We haven’t been able to get chestnut mousse live or tinned in Lismore for yonks. Had to fly 10 hours to Seoul, then 11 hours to Vienna and drive to Sopron. Worth it!
So was the local wine, which I can’t describe very well, not being a pro, except to say it was red and exactly how I thought it would be – sort of sweet and dry and light. There’s something else to tell about Jegverem. When the two old men left from the next table, a woman appeared to clear the table. She picked up a few things and put them on a tray. The waiter then waived her imperiously aside, grasped the table, bent down and blew really strongly all over it. Twice. Job done!
Presumably he was blowing off crumbs. Certainly saves time. The woman disappeared out the back, looking a bit miffed. When the smoking woman leaves, he will probably blow her ash away, but we’ll be gone – finally to sleep at the beginning of our wonderful adventure.
Enough sleep had, we’re up for brekky at 0730 and it was good. Breads and spreads, fresh coffee, cheese, eggs, muesli, yoghurt. With sated stomachs we set off for a lengthy meander through the Belvaros (Old City), and climbed the fire tower to get our bearings. Sopron is a pretty medieval city with a central medieval square, Fo Ter.
We wandered around, peeking in shops, down alleyways, around the neighbourhoods, and came to rest at café Randevu, recommended to us by Piri and Tibi. Coffee, more chestnut puree, this time covered in bitter dark chocolate for Bruce, and Dobos Torta for me. More walking, then find a bank and a supermarket, and wander back to Wieden for as rest.
Back out again, this time for a big walk in the suburbs, then back to the Belvaros. Chestnut ice cream, then a ride on a little electric “taxi train”, for about 30 minutes, having a great look around. The lingo is a real challenge. Locals can tell we are tourists, and try talking to us in German (loads of German tourists here, and interestingly, quite a few visiting Hungarians), but as yet we haven’t heard any Aussies, Brits or Yanks. It’s quite nice really.
Our room at Wieden Panzio is basic but nice. Our own bathroom, but pretty dated fittings. Old bed (firm though not sagging, yet…). Laminate wood grain furnishings with gold trim are tastefully offset by the genuine crystal chandelier (see clothes dryer, below).
The dormer window opens onto a small but busy street, and a well frequented bar opposite that has people coming in and out from 0800 until 2100!! The locals seem very fond of a drink and a smoke. Luckily, our window is double glazed!! The view down the street is a quaint traditional European streetscape of crooked walls and tiled roofs. We love it! This evening we’ll set out to find a vego feed. It won’t be easy, but we’ll give it a shot.

Alley to main street
Here’s some words which might come in handy
next time you pass this way:
Korean thank you: (c)ham saam bela
Hungarian thank you: kozsonom (cursin’-‘em, but thankin’ ‘em at the same time)


Old Town square. Fire Tower - Fo Ter - in background
I don’t speak Hungarian:
..... nem beshelek modural
Yes: Igen
No: Nem
Please: kayrem
Goodbye: sia

Sorry: shoy-naa-lawm.
I’m sorry: igen shoynaa-lawm


Roman wall 2000 years
Excuse me (to get past): baw chaa not, like “bought ya not” = I didn’t buy you, but get outta the way mate!

Hello: servus (pl) servustawk
Good morning: yaw reggelt keevaanawk


Old town wall

Fire tower

View from top
We walked anti-clockwise around Sopron and climbed the fire tower. People have been looking up at and down from this tower forever. It’s built on Roman foundations. Here in the middle of the old walled city it was rebuilt after a fire in 1560 or thereabouts!! This new one is 450 years old. Looks good for its age! Makes me feel positively juvenile. You can see it’s had a facelift.

A view with a view
I just love all these old buildings, the archways and courtyards. And the rooftops. Here is a typical doorway, and the lovely surprise of light and space within. Living conditions have improved over the eons, because now we don’t have to have our houses walled from the street.
Oh! We do? Sorry!!

It’s lunchtime, so I try some semi-sweet 2004 Tokaji. At 399 forint it’s about @2.50 a bottle. Welcome to Europe. The Lonely Planet says Sopron is noted for Merlot and Kekfrankos. The Tokaji is good.
I need to get up in the middle of the night. I don’t want to turn on the clothes dryer (right), so I use the street light coming in the window to write down this round (far right) which has landed in my head and woken me.
I wanted to be happy so I
stand on the streets and hang around.

I wanted to be happy so I
stand on the streets and sing a round.

I took a little nappy and when
I awoke I’d been canonized.

It left me feeling zappy, ‘cause the
words were in bold italicized.

It’s like reading a map it is the
easiest way to harmonise.

Lisa wrote:

The firetower watches
From high, to warn the
City and her people.

The firetower watches,
The stillness of night descends.
A velvet silence blankets the city.

The firetower watches,
Lest an ember flickers
And kindles the fire of a dream.

It punctuates the heavy silence,
Keeping watch over sleep,
Maintaining order, sub-dominant,
Dominant, every fifteen minutes.


civitas fidelissima
Then, marking the passage of time,
A tonic chime.
Midnight. One a.m. Two a.m.

The firetower warns the dreams
Not to kindle.
Three a.m. Four a.m. Five a.m.


Sleeping dogs lie sleeping,
But the dogs of sleep hound not
The jet-lagged traveler.

16th century etching