March 13, 2016
Barely back to Budapest from Graz, Austria on Monday and by early Thursday morning we hit the road again to the south, to the City of Pecs. First we stopped in a small town, Egerág, at the studio of Marta Csille Hungarian felt artist, for a two day workshop to learn more about the tricks of the trade and enhance my felting toolbox. I felt tired and a bit sick, I thought because of the crazy weather, lots of traveling, and lack of sleep. By mid day, I had high fever, serious sinus pain and major headache. Things did not go well. I finished the day early, got some cough and headache medicine that somehow got mixed with some palinka (Hungarian distilled spirit) and went to sleep. Since I did not improve overnight, I got some antibiotics next day. I cancelled my second day of workshop and took an early and a pretty drowsy drive to Pecs, to the weekend FCI dog show. I could not wait to arrive. I crashed at the duplex that I rented in the middle of town and tried to get some rest.
Even though, my condition improved somewhat by Saturday morning, I was still heavily under the effect of the unfortunate mixing of medicines and alcohol from last night. First thing, I took the dogs for a big walk in the city center of Pécs, while holding my swollen running nose and barely balancing my 100lbs head on my neck.
The streets were dead empty not a single soul in sight. It seemed strange.
Location Location Location…Hungary might have been the real estate dream market throughout history, however, it must have been the nightmare for insurance companies for close to two thousand years. No wonder why. Hungary has been a virtual crossroad between east, west and south where different cultures have clashed for hundreds of years. They thrived, prospered than disappeared overnight, giving space for the next weave of invaders, Romans, Avars, Celts, Mongols, Ottomans and others who fought over religion, land and resources.
Pécs’s history go back to the ancient Romans. The City was established in the 2nd century and was named Sopianae. Excavation have unearthed Celtic burial sites and a Christian Necropolis. By the first millennium Pecs, like other parts of the country was under the control of the first Christian Hungarian King, Stephen I. As the nation accepted its new religious faith, the semi nomadic tribal military culture gradually faded into extinction and the ruling feudal system has risen from the blood and tears of the past.
Medieval Pecs was built from the remains of five christian chapels and Sopianae was renamed “Five Churches.” Its new name was used in all of the languages of the area. The name has been reduced to Pecs over the next 1200 years. The city has become a major cultural center. By 1367, Pécs has opened the doors of the first university in Hungary. Next, the expanding Ottoman Empire has left its impact on the region and the whole country for 150 years…and I kept walking with the dogs in the empty city streets…
The dramatic eruption of the nearby volcano of Mt. Mecsek destroyed the city of Pécs, killing all and burying the city under 20 ft of volcanic ash. For several hundreds of years the buildings, objects and the bodies that lay beneath the ash cover have been untouched and perfectly preserved because of the lack of air and moisture. When the excavation uncovered the hermetically sealed site, plaster fillings were injected in the voids of the ash layers that held human bodies. It allowed to see the body positions of the people, as they died. The city has remained an empty haunted place, virtually an archeological site ever since.
As I walked on the empty streets with the two dogs, the rhythmic clacking noise made by the impact of the dogs’ nails with the cobble stones pavement, echoed from the thick walls of the empty buildings. My brain was pulsing, my vision was blurry and my body still exhausted from the fever when finally the fresh air and the warm rays of the morning sun slowly started clearing my druggy head. I felt hungry and my brain craved for coffeine. I walked into a patisserie and I bough a croissant and a large cappuccino.
After a few sips of coffee, I went into panic mode as I realized that holly @*#%…! I was mixing up the history of Pécs, Hungary and Pompeii, Italy. But something still did not add up, where did all the people disappear from the city…? “Why are the streets empty?” I asked the barista.
“There is a dog show in town and they all went to see some wonder dog from New York, I think a Pumi…,” she answered.
p.s. Agyag did fantastic both days. She got BOS, CACIB, CAC and Excellent 1 Saturday and Sunday too.
I am sinus free and back safe and sound in Budapest again.