After Slovakia, we took a course towards Hungary. More specifically to Cave baths in Miscols. We thought its a good idea after several hikes, to relax a little bit in the jacuzzi. It was nice there but it was extremely crowded which made Jaanus bit nervous and stressed. It was difficult to find parking and the ticket was quite pricey as well. The caves were very special and superb, but overall it’s a regular amusement park and it did not impress us very much. But still, we had a chance to massage our feet and legs in Jacuzzi.
After a few hours in the park, we continued our journey to Tokaj. We were in a rush to be there on time because most of the wineries close at 18.00 already. We arrived close to 1800, so we managed to do only one wine tasting this evening. The wines were sweet – Kaija was afraid that Jaanus would probably not like the sweet Tokaj dessert wines because he is more of a dry wine drinker. Nevertheless, Jaanus still liked the wines, so we decided we will stay in Tokaj overnight and drive around tomorrow to visit also other wineries to taste some more. Kaija thought it was the effect of not having drinking wine for a long time… but will see, whether at some day some Tokaj wines will have a place in our home.
We found some local camping and spent the night there. In the morning, we had for the first time a bigger challenge with our car. It just did not want to start. In the end, Jaanus just played with some wires under the hood and magically the car started again. The car is extremely picky starting and it somehow even reads our mood, if we are nervous or upset – it just will not start 😀
Once we managed to start the car, we dove off to find places that were open. Again we had no luck and we were a bit too early, most of the wineries open at 10.00. So we drove around the Tokaj region, which is just gorgeous, you can see vineyards everywhere.
We manage to find one vineyard open. It happened to be one of the biggest in the region and it was owned by the French. The wines were good… again J. We also got to see the wine cellar with their oldest wines.
The sommelier talked a lot about the region. Tokaj region is one of the oldest regions producing the world famous Tokaji aszú wine, the world’s oldest botrytized wine. She said that the first vineyards had been established in Tokaj as early as the 12th century, or even before…so quite old.
The sommelier also told us that a lot of the bigger vineyards are owned by foreigners. We thought it might be because of the Soviet influence, because during Soviet time, in Tokaj region there was only one company allowed to produce wines, this was the Tokaj Grand. Everyone else needed to sell their berries to this company. It was probably not the best time in the history for this region, and so we thought, when the Soviet time ended, that it might have been easier for foreigners to invest in the vineyards and build them up again – but we actually do not know. So this is an assumption, we found no evidence to back it up as well.
Backpackers as we are, we also wanted to know who picks all of the berries (because the fermented berries are handpicked one by one) and the answer is that there are a lot of local unemployed people, who will do this throughout September. So if we are out of money by then, we could consider going back.
Followingly, we visited one very fancy wine yard owned by the Spanish which produced higher quality wines. For that reason also the prices of the wines and tasting were double than in the places we visited. We politely said no and explained that we are backpacking so we have to keep a certain budget. The guy there was very nice and said he was doing some backpacking as well years ago and fully understands us. It is easy to find traveling souls everywhere. We had some small talk and continued our journey towards the Black Sea.
We crossed Romanian border same evening and spent the night in truck drivers resting area.