Personally tested: Excursion to the Hungarian Puszta
The sunny weather prompted us to head outside, and we chose a Saturday to visit the Puszta (the Pannonian steppe) with the whole QTH team, along with our husbands, partners and kids. We would like to share a few details of our trip so you can get a glimpse of what to expect from an excursion like that. Our jolly team was greeted in the outskirts of Lajosmizse - around 70 kms from Budapest - by a csikós (a mounted horse-herdsman) who led us to the Tanyacsárda Restaurant, Programme Centre, Horse Farm and Guest House where we were offered fresh, hot "pogácsa" (a type of bread) and pálinka. After the warm welcome, we were taken around the estate on a horse-drawn carriage. Riding on a coach is a classic Hungarian activity, and most of the words for ‘coach’ in European languages derive from the Hungarian word "kocsi", literally meaning "of [the post town of] Kocs". It was so soothing to jounce along the dirt roads far from the cacophony of the city, accompanied by birdsong. Having arrived back at the farm, we took a look at the animals around, pigs, cows, hens, ducks and rabbits. Among all the animals of the Puszta, our favourite were the Hungarian Grey cattle with their guileless charm, the racka sheep known for their unusual spiral-shaped horns, and the Lipizzan and half-bred Hungarian horses, a few of which we even took out for a spin. It was breathtaking to watch a herd of so beautiful animals galloping around the pen. We were entertained by a show that included various staggering displays such as obstacle driving, laying down horses, training donkeys, a csikós competition, and the world-famous "Puszta Five", where a csikós uses only the rein to ride five horses simultaneously, standing on the backs of the rear two. Following a quick demonstration, we tried whipcracking using the famous Hungarian bullwhip, and even managed to win a few bottles of wine in a game. After the exciting activities, we all sat down at a well-spread table with a good appetite for a multi-course lunch. All the dishes were tasty and hearty, but our highlights would be the perfectly spicy "gulyás" soup and "tejespite" (milk pie) served with local apricot "lekvár" (a very thick jam of pure ripe fruit). Pleasantly stuffed and tired, we headed back to Pest after lunch in a really good mood. We are speaking from personal experience when we recommend Tanyacsárda for all of you.