Autumn Harvest 2015 in the Zala

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Every village or town we pass through in the Zala seems to have its own Autumn harvest display.
In similar places in France and Italy, Autumn festivals are held in a much grander scale
where a schedule of programs are organized that usually lasts for days,
but here in the agricultural region of southwestern Hungary where scantily populated villages
are far between, it’s more of a combined effort

of the farming locals, as a way of keeping their tradition alive, to put up a modest display
of their produce accompanied by lifesize dolls which they made themselves.
And since it’s the Autumn school holidays of the kids. it also serves as an exciting sight to look at everyday.
Nice!

Autumn colours and quotes… at home in Hungary

20151027_101222B Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.
by George Eliot

20151027_101235c“I sit quietly, listening to the falling leaves – A lonely hut, a life of renunciation.
The past has faded, things are no longer remembered, My sleeve is wet with tears,”
~ by Ryokan

20151027_102446b“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all,”
by Stanley Horowitz

 

20151027_104121b “How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days,”
by John Burroughs

IMG_4731aNo spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face..”
~ by John Donne

20151021_093211b“Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground,”
~ by Andrea Gibson

Varazdin, a little piece of Vienna in Croatia

It would have been one insignificant weekend morning when H unexpectedly announced over the breakfast table, “Let’s go somewhere different this Saturday. Let’s go to Croatia!”

That’s the beauty of living in Central Europe, you see,  particularly in the Zala region of Hungary.  We have Slovenia, Austria and Croatia just at our doorstep.  We have thought about going to Croatia anyway to buy some fish.  Saltwater fish in landlocked Hungary seems to be a never heard of thing and we are dying to eat seafood!

So I googled the “most beautiful towns of Croatia” and Varazdin flashed onto the screen.

“Croatia’s Baroque gem.  A little piece of Vienna.  The  ancient capital (1756 to 1776) until it was destroyed by fire and the capital went to Zagreb.  During those two decades of reign, religious orders, noblemen and wealthy tradesmen brought in the best architects, designers and painters to construct monasteries, churches, palaces and mansions.  It is one of Europe’s most preserved Baroque centers.”  H didn’t need convincing,

So a quick drive and a short queue at the  border control later, we arrived in Varazdin at mid-day, just when the open market was just starting to pack up.  Our dream of buying fish disintegrated in thin air.  But we’re not fretting.  We’ll go to the supermarket later.

When I saw the Old Town, it reminded me of Prague and Bratislava.  The cobbled streets, the medieval castle, the pastel coloured facades of the Baroque buildings, make it looking like a town coming out from  history and fairytale book combined!

 

 

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20151010_132357bIts religious character is shown by the shrines that are built everywhere.

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The Stari Grad (Old Castle) was a defensive fort but the fortification has now been transformed
into a delightful circular promenade where you see a good view of the town amongst a green landscape.

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In the summer, I can just imagine this square teeming with day tourists coming from the more popular coastal towns of the country

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20151010_132559b“The Crinoline of Love”

The uniqueness of Varazdin’s universal language of love is the placing of a padlock on this crinoline
to gradually build a sculpture with all the peculiarities derived from the colour and shape of the padlocks used.

20151010_130902bEgg dispenser…. egg vending machine…. Yes, you’re seeing it right.
Croatia’s first egg vending machine was launched last year in this city.
It can hold up to 600 eggs and the aim is to keep people employed in agriculture-related
business focusing on family-run operations.

Bought a souvenir of Croatian honey brandy or "med rakija" in their language. Sweet and mild, Great as "digestif"
Bought a souvenir of Croatian honey brandy or “med rakija” in their language. Sweet and mild, Great as “digestif”

 

VarazdinCollage

“You should visit our cemetery, it’s famous all over the world!”, said a waiter whom we passed by cleaning the front of his restaurant. So glad we stumbled upon him, we could have easily missed it. It’s also the most visited park in the city because the locals find it more peaceful and more beautiful.

“Varaždin cemetery was established in 1773, and in 1905, Herman Haller began to arrange about 7,000 cypress, maple, ash, red beech, boxes, magnolia and birch. Clipping Thuja in geometrical bodies made the cemetery more similar to the French fleet.” (wikipedia)

 

cemeteryBut what are these? The living already preparing their final resting place?

We had lunch of chicken and chips, beer, dessert and coffee and guess how much we paid for two?  10euros!
In Paris and London – this amount will only get us two cups of capuccino, accompanied by a coin-size chocolate if we are lucky!

Autumn Bounty – Part 2

Zala, Hungary

 

Mushroom hunting, chestnut foraging, walnut and fruit picking.. these are just few of the many exciting benefits we gain by walking Charlie the dog every morning.

He entered our lives at the beginning of Spring this year and since then, we made it a point to walk him everyday, come rain or shine or strong winds. We walk along hills, forests, open fields and parks. It’s a very addicting habit. We like the walking exercise and communing with Nature is very therapeutic.

But more than reading from a book or learning from a classroom, we are so privileged to observe firsthand all the stages of Nature, for instance, the tree. From the moment they start re-growing leaves at Springtime, to the blooming of flowers, their transformation into fruits, up to maturity until Mother Nature (rain and wind) drops them freely into the ground, ready for the picking. And the beauty of it is, we, as passers-by, get the benefit of this delicious bounty, almost unlimited that we have to say “Stop!” when our bags get so full and heavy. And Charlie? He voraciously munches all the walnuts he sees on the ground non-stop that we have to pull his leash, lest he gets sick of overeating!

Nevertheless, it’s been highly satisfactory for the three of us, thanks to Charlie|

hunting for mushroom has never been this easy..

 

like a telephone directory

my bag is full but there are mushrooms as far as the eye can see..

like a beach umbrella

Five kilos, more or less.  I already cooked them as mushroom sauce and mushroom soup, packed in serving sizes on the freezer.

My umbrella, which is used mainly for clearing the leaves rather than as cover from the rain

Pine cones, great as Christmas decors

It’s been raining and windy all night and this is what we saw this morning – chestnuts fallen on the ground.

The rule is – one does not pick chestnuts from the tree, only off the ground. In fact they are only ripe after they have fallen…

Walnuts, too, just dropping on the ground.

The two containers of walnuts on the right were picked up this morning. The one on the left, the other day.
Those are eggs to show size of some walnuts. Few chestnuts next to the bowl.

And these are the walnuts picked up last week.