I gave a befuddled look to the only other soul in the waiting room, a bundled-up elderly woman. She pointed. Ferfi it was.
„I headed through the arched doorway, only to find a hallway without a reception desk. I did, however, find two young men drinking beers, a somewhat notable activity considering it was not yet 7 a.m. They spoke English, and sought out an employee who helped me arrange a room; the cost per night was 3,500 forints, an absurdly low $14.75 at 236 forints to the dollar.
To my surprise, the men were visitors like me. »We’re from Budapest,« one said. »We’re here to go to a pig killing.«
I had been in town a half-hour, and already I was invited to a pig killing? I couldn’t believe my luck, and of course, I asked if I might tag along.
»The pig’s already dead,« one said, and I felt as if I was getting the brushoff. Sure enough, when I wheeled my luggage around the corner for the staff to store, they took off.
A bit depressed at the missed opportunity, I headed across the street to a small bakery, where I drowned my sorrows with a coffee and a kakaos csiga, a snail-shaped chocolate pastry that cost 140 forints. I then set off to wander. (And if I happened to run across a certain pig-killing, all the better.)
The town turned out to be a subtle charmer. Tidy houses — some looking a century old or more — lined streets that were quiet but for the occasional fenced-in dog. A notable number of gray-haired locals were out on bicycles, which, even on a drizzly day, were more common than cars.
FOR SOME REASON, I felt euphoric. Perhaps it the utter randomness of where I was, or perhaps it was because I had literally no idea what I would find on the next block. The smallest discoveries in an unknown place can match the thrill of visiting well-known attractions — Versailles, the Grand Canyon — that you knew were coming and you’d read all about.
My first find was a small industrial building on an otherwise residential block, metal barrels lined up in front. I noted a word stenciled on a concrete wall outside: SZESZFOZDE. Tapping it into Google Translate, I got just about the best result I could imagine: Distillery.”