Friday, November 21, 2014

Trip to Szolnok and Lake Tisza #1

I am trying to learn more about water management in Hungary and I got an amazing education last week from the Director of the Middle Tisza Water District.  The Hungarians take flood management seriously, as well they should.  I will never look at a floodplain the same way again--as he pointed out things to me on maps or on the ground, I remembered similar things from the Dayton, Ohio area.  Yesterday, I went to Pecs here in Hungary and as I went along, I saw the management in the landscape.  It looks pretty natural most of the time.  The one hydropower dam Hungary has is at the artificial Lake Tisza, which gets a great many birds during migrations.  (Well, Hungary has one that could work, but they are no longer interested in it). The Tisza is also a pretty river.  I liked how the district, following national rules and good solid, management put a few explanations up for the public and also name spots after famous Hungarian writers or notables associated with a part of the river.

Szolnok is an industrial town. Like so many in Hungary, it fell on some hard times after the end of the Cold War.  But it is coming back through new investments in the town, the emphasis on water management, and new jobs coming in.  One of the newest projects in town involves a pedestrian bridge and raising the levees to better cope with sometimes higher floods than in the past. The bridge is shaped like a mayfly--which hatches in vast quantities in late June.  There's also a funny statue in their honor.

Here's a view of the new embankment work in the city. Keeping the trees is very important.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

De la Motte Mansion Noszvaj, Hungary

I will continue with the travels from the trip to Eger.  We left Eger and saw a wonderful mansion, the De la Motte, built in the late 1700s.  What's really special about it are the frescoes and the use of trompe l'oeil to get 3D effects.
The Front of the Mansion

A highly stylized Roman God

3D look in the entrance way
I believe this is supposed to be Mercury
View to the back with a painted medallion
More 3D
There was a bird room. I want one.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

wine tasting

                       Here I am checking the color and clarity of one of the wines by holding it up to the candle.                                           Photo by Prof. Melendez (U of New Mexico) I quite like the photo.
Eger is a wine region of Hungary--and the Hungarians make some very fine wines. They are justly proud of them; so proud that they drink over 80% of what they produce.  We had a very pleasant wine tasting experience in one of the wine caves that has been carved into a hill. 

Basilica of Eger


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Castle/fort of Eger

Eger is famous for the locals having fended off the Turks, under the castle captain, Dobos.  Women fought bravely along with the men to accomplish this.  They were greatly outnumbered by the Turks, but they had ingenious ways of figuring out where the Turks were tunneling in to blow up the wall (a drum with little stones on it that would vibrate--very effective low tech monitoring equipment.  Then, they would countertunnel and blow up the Turks on the other side, etc.  There is a famous red wine made here called Bull's Blood.  The story goes that Dobos was observed by the Turks drinking red wine and it flowed over his beard.  The Turks commented that he must be drinking blood, to which they added that it must be the blood of a bull.   I took lots of photos here, but will spare you too many.

The hero, Dobos

A modern addition--very large statues of the citizens in the castle who fought off the Turks.  Here's the tribute to the women.

Inside (the castle dates to the 1200s, as I recall)

This isn't clear, but they were able to move cannons to do some serious damage to the Turks with cross-fire.

Views of Eger

From the top of the roof at Esterhazy College, one can get some nice views of Eger.
Oops...this is from the main square of Eger

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Count Karoly Esztherhazy was also interested in the growing field of astronomy and set up an observatory.  I don't have photos of it, really, but there is a wonderful camera obscura (imagine putting up a kind of periscope on your house and having it project images of the surroundings in full color
Camera Obscura--the brass things maneuver the lens on the top of the building.
on a table in a darkened room--we 21st century sorts were delighted and laughed (it was partly for amusement in the 18th c) when the guide folded a card and put it across a road.  Cars would appear to go nearly straight up and down.

The photos are of some of the equipment. 

This device (quite large) allowed the astronomer to measure angles between stars and other objecs.

Close-up of one telescope--still works, we looked through it.

Helped find Noon and other times.