Győr

From Bratislava I went on into Hungary down the valley of the Danube, through fields of sunflowers and giant wind turbines (at first I had assumed these were Austrian, but they went right on into Hungary, too). I arrived at Győr, another town with three names (Raab in German – this is the name by which the battle that Bonaparte fought outside the city in 1809 is known – and Ráb in Slovak), but it is a city altogether happier with itself than Bratislava. People stroll and chat in the streets at a leisurely pace, and there is a large main square surrounded by classical and baroque buildings where kids shriek and play in the fountains, and rollerblade in the evenings:

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There are plenty of other nice buildings to look at too (and guess what? some onion steeples):

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and a grand town hall:

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And lots of gold in the churches:

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The pop music is mostly in English, but the lingua franca is German (this is the town where most of the parts of most Audi cars are made), so I have been battling along with my few words of that. This is a view from the hotel I am staying in – the building on the left is the local branch of the Hungarian National Theatre:

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Of course Hungary was ruled by the Soviets too, for 45 years, and there are some ugly steel and glass buildings sitting next to the beautiful old ones (but of course you could say that of many western countries too…):

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But there is a basic sense of continuity here: the place has been inhabited for thousands of years, and the same people have been here for over a thousand. Maybe that is why there is such an easy self-confidence…

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