October 31 – November 2, 2011: I really liked Pecs, but I loved Szeged. Mostly because it had so many Art Nouveau buildings, and eclectic Art Nouveau at that. It looked like the town had been lavishing some love on those buildings, too. Take the gorgeous Reok Palace, filling the corner of Kolcsey utca and Tisza Lajos Korut, which was described in my Lonely Planet as having “been left to the elements, and … coming off second best”. By the time I saw it, it looked fabulous. The New Synagogue, on the other hand, “Szeged’s most compelling sight”, was in dire need of help. It’s gates were locked, and the grounds overgrown.
Although the town center was bigger than Pecs’, it was still eminently walkable. Well, aside, perhaps, to or from the train station. I arrived by bus from Pecs at a busy bus station on the north-eastern edge, but then rolled my case westwards towards the river and my hotel, the brand-new Soleil, through oddly quiet streets. Then I remembered that while I was arriving on Halloween, a big day for American kids, the next day, All Saints Day, was a big day for a lot of Catholic adults. The helpful woman who checked me into the hotel confirmed that I had indeed arrived in the middle of a holiday.
Thanks to the holiday, I didn’t see inside any of the town’s museums, just the main church, but with so many beautiful exteriors, I really didn’t care. The folk art museum hadn’t sounded that enticing in any case, so I spent my time strolling the streets, enjoying the sunshine and taking loads of photos. I enjoyed my hotel, too, and rather wished I was staying longer (I had yet to see my apartment in Budapest…) My room had a loft for the big bed, loads of storage, a desk (with free wifi), a coffee maker, and shared a lounge and kitchen with another room. The only complaint I could make was the lack of an outside railing for the stairs to the loft – I descended with great care!
I didn’t find a restaurant to match the Susugo in Pecs, but I didn’t eat badly, although I was definitely finding prices higher in Hungary. When I headed for the train station, and the hourly train to Kecskemet, it was with considerable regret.