Pecs, Hungary: European Capital of Culture 2010
I ended up in Pécs because its dot on the map was rather large and well located between Budapest and Sarajevo; I ended up loving Pécs because it’s a wonderful surprise in southern Hungary—a stunningly beautiful city full of fascinating attractions.
The European Union agrees, because Pécs is one of the organization’s Capitals of Culture for 2010. And with a calendar packed with related events and festivals this summer and fall, there’s never been a better time to score a Central Europe travel deal and discover Pécs.
Concerts and fairs aside, there are plenty of enticing things to do in this ancient city. Don’t miss a visit to the unique cathedral, and while you’re there, explore the fantastic public art and medieval ruins nearby. You can even climb a crumbling tower and look out over modern Pécs.
Check out the love padlocks up and down Janus Pannonius St., where, since the 1980s, lovers have pledged their hearts to each other with the click of a lock. Photographing the mess of locks is key—each padlock is unique, and many have lovely sentiments scribbled on them.
Zsolnay Fountain, coated in porcelain from the eponymous Hungarian porcelain maker, is but one highlight of the newly renovated Széchenyi Square. The area has been the heart of the city since the Middle Ages and still leads to lively streets full of restaurants and bars.
Speaking of bars, Pécs is home to Hungary’s largest university and boasts a vibrant after-dark scene in a neighborhood that reminded me of Dublin’s Temple Bar area.
Pécs is also the only place to find what may be the most sought-after drink in Hungary: Pécs Brewery’s “Pécsi sör,” an unfiltered beer that’s supposedly only available at Cellarium restaurant in Pécs. Just in case you needed one more reason to visit this unique destination.
My name: Michelle Doucette
How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at IgoUgo.com.
Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.
Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.
Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.