Misguided Misfits in Miskolc and Other Places

It’s been another busy couple of weeks, including a trip to Adelaide to attend the Writers’ Festival (as an audience member) which I will write about later. When I returned from that I only had to re-pack my (unworn) clean clothes for a weekend up in the Hunter Valley of NSW.

That’s best known as wine country, but it is also where my brother-in-law lives (if anyone is interested in buying a post office business in this beautiful part of the country please let me know).

He turned seventy today, so Bill and I drove up to take he and his wife out for a celebratory lunch. Who should be our waitress but their next door neighbour. They knew the young woman – new to the area – only slightly, mostly on account of the packages she sends back home.

My sister-in-law remembered the destination for the packages as Roumania, but on making enquiries, that turned out to be Hungary. Not only that, but the young waitress actually came from the Miskolc area – which was delightful and embarrassing at the same time, because not so long after I started blogging, I wrote a less-than-glowing post on that city.

It’s now almost five years since Bill and I took a four month independent trip to Europe, half of which was with another couple, nick-named Waddie and Jay to protect their true identities. The trip brought my blog into existence, and the blog was originally called Fifty-Five Days with Gwen – and if you wish to know why, you can read that story here. And if you read that (short) story, you will realise that it is only five years since we were all still reeling from the fall-out of the Fanny May and Freddie Mac meltdown of 2008 which sent the world’s markets into meltdown.

Back to Europe. Waddie and I had done most of the planning and bookings, and most of it went off without a hitch  . . . except for Miskolc. And since I don’t know how to re-blog my own posts, if you wish to know why, then I suggest you click here.

And in this time-poor society, if you feel you don’t have time to read the story, I can recommend some of the pictures 🙂


30 thoughts on “Misguided Misfits in Miskolc and Other Places

  1. Can relate to your post Gwen. So many countries in Eastern Europe have an aura of sadness that the people never discuss, especially with tourists – same thing in parts of Africa, like Mozambique. The buildings in Hungary are beautiful! I’m returning soon to my home in Oregon after almost 12 months of carefree wandering in 9 countries. The cross-culture shock will be slightly traumatic ;(. Leaving everything and everyone for that long – well it’s likely no one will remember me! In the past, I’ve returned in the dead of winter but this time it will be spring when everything is in bloom – very pretty! Hope we can connect during your visit to the West Coast!

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    • We are looking forward to our Oregon experience. On the off-chance, our itinerary looks like this . . . on the pacific coast road, coming up from San Francisco . . . and after Gualala and Loleta in CA, one night each in Bandon, Newport and Astoria, three nights in Portland (outer suburb of Milwaukee?). Taking in the Spruce Goose somewhere in there. Then on to Seattle probably via Mt St Helens. Pushing on to Canada after that. Think we will catch something of the Rose Festival in Portland.


      • Sounds good – perhaps we can meet in Portland for lunch? If you are a Theatre fan Ashland (border of CA and Oregon) has a fantastic Shakespeare festival and also more contemporary theater – plays performed all year. It’s a smaller but very pretty town. Not tons happening in Brandon or Newport and I’ve not spent much time in Astoria. Sounds like you want to hug the cost. Crater Lake is amazing but further inland and hard to get bookings at the lodge. You must be getting excited!

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        • Hi, just checked out Ashland, and yes, you are right – we are intentionally hugging the coast so that idea will not work (at least for this trip), but THANKS for the tip.

          It’s possible that we may find the scenery repetitive as we head up the coast but we have taken the attitude that “we shall never pass this way again”, so we intend to mosey along and stick our noses in “whatever” along the way. As it happens, another couple, long-time friends will be joining us on this driving leg and they are delighted with that.

          We get into Portland on Thursday 31 May and have three nights there. We’ve booked a B&B in Milwaukie (SE River Road), partially to experience the ambience of a home-style welcome. Also we’d like to do a drive along the Columbia River and that looks a good starting point.

          Here are my dot-points of maybes: (Detour to Spruce Goose)
          Washington Park – Rose Test Gardens
          Hop On Hop Off or Walking Tour
          or City Tour
          Starlight Parade Sat night 8.30-11pm CBD
          Jimmy Maks Jazz Club
          Multnomah Falls (and maybe Vista House along the way )

          As well, I have found a family ancestor living in Boring, however she is in her late eighties and I am not currently in contact with her, so doubtful I will be having a coffee with her on the way back from the falls.

          We’d love to meet up with you, so if you can suggest what fits in best we are very open to ideas.

          I’ll be getting excited after I’ve decided what to pack 🙂


          • Portland is great for jazz – lots to enjoy there and the Columbia River Gorge is spectacular! I’m not very familiar with the outlying areas of Portland – the city itself has been my focus. Oregon is 70% wilderness – forest, mountains, rivers, lakes and only about 30% populated. It’s a great place (as is Washington) for outdoor enthusiasts – hiking, skiing, kayaking, mountain climbing, bicycling. Oregon is changing with so many people from California (like myself) moving there. You always need a jacket in San Francisco at night. Not sure what the weather in Oregon and Washington will be like in May but probably not extremely hot. Let me communicate with you closer to May when I’ve returned to the US and had some time to resettle – I’ll be back in late March…. I’m focusing on winding up the long trip and enjoying my last few days in Cape Town!

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          • That will be great. We are expecting changeable weather and planning to pack layers. Bought a good quality hiking type raincoat the other day, but still to decide on which jacket I will have. Enjoy the last of your time in South Africa and talk more in a month or so.


    • Ah yes, that could be very hurtful couldn’t it? But actually we had a good conversation about the challenges that still exist in Hungary, and the relief she feels at being in the beautiful Hunter Valley and easier life in Australia. She gets a little fed up with customers repeatedly waxing on about the beauty of Budapest, without having seen any other part of the country. Having said that, if we hadn’t been in the middle of a heatwave (and THAT’S from an Australian mouth) and if the accommodation had been marginally better, we would have stayed in Miskolc and explored the countryside as we originally intended to. I told her about the blog and about our experiences there. So she knows it wasn’t glowing. She confirmed we were right to feel in danger. But it was the only time. Everything else we did in Hungary was delightful. And I brought home a piece of embroidery, intended as a doily, which I had framed and it takes pride of place in the living room today. It’s the first thing someone sees as they walk down the hallway. My overall impression of the country is very positive, and as you would know, many post war Hungarians have made their home in Oz, adding greatly to our sophistication and culture.

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  2. Is it really nearly five years. I remember your interesting posts and photos from the time you spent in Poland on that trip. It was when I first came across your Blog back in August 2013. My goodness, I have to second Jolandi, ‘How time flies!’

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    • Looking back, I note my very first post was 1st May 2013. Almost five years ago. Hard to believe isn’t it?
      I remember the street-scene photograph in Poland that captured your attention. It was a wonderful shot that I found in the museum in Warsaw. Since that time, I have taken great comfort and enjoyment in following your blog and exchanging intelligent and thoughtful comments between us.
      I suspect you will relate to the sentiments I expressed in my very first post, so am including a link here. It’s a short read . . . https://garrulousgwendoline.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/the-catalyst-for-retirement/

      And thank you so much for your “virtual” company.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh that’s so nice of you to say. I enjoy your company too. Mmmm have popped over and read your first post. Bit close to home for me as I have just turned 58 this week and there is no sign of any retirement for me on the horizon at the moment. The Government changed my pension age 60 to 65 and then to 67 years old. The only upside is that running my own business is not quite the straightjacket as a regular 9 to 5 job.

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        • We were lucky in that Bill’s union, the waterside workers, required all the members to contribute to their own superannuation, and negotiated that the employer tip in, back from the early 70s. Way before it became compulsory in Australia. Our scheme is different as the government pension only kicks in for those below a certain asset and incomee level. That has similar age restrictions as yours, but superannuation can be accessed from 55. The challenge is to build up enough of it to last the distance!


          • In a strange coincidence my ex-husband (60 this year) phoned yesterday to say that a pension advisor had tracked him down to discuss his options. We both had the same financial advisor in out late twenties and my ex now has a reasonable pot, but I, of course being a stay-at-home mum, have slipped through the net. And, as we’ve been divorced for years what started as a joint venture has not exactly worked out for me. Still, I could never have stayed and it has been so much better and safer for my daughter.

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          • Australian media has started to recognise that there is a tsunami of women who will enter their retirement in very straightened circumstances. Divorce and time out of the workplace are big contributors to homelessness in this group. You will understand many of the issues raised in this article. Both of my (half) sisters are in this situation – and both of them heart-heartedly chose independence over staying in damaging marriages.


          • Oh dear, oh dear. Just read the link and looks pretty much the same as here. Also, there is a specialist sub-section of this 21st century version of ‘genteel poverty’ in the UK called WASPIs (Women Against State Pension Inequality) and they are fighting to get their voices heard. All an enormous uphill struggle and getting completely lost in all the Brexit hysterics. Across the great span of history it isn’t a bad time to be an older woman on her own, but it should be so much better. I feel for your half sisters.

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          • I just took a quick look at the website and I can imagine the problem. In Australia, before compulsory superannuation, government employees had a pension scheme that was predicated on which retirement age was nominated at the beginning of your working life, so that your deductions were tailored accordingly. Changing that age down the track had huge impacts on how much you received. Let’s hope they can get someone to listen.

            Here I am spending so much time in understanding the genteel poverty that threw women into governessing in the 1800s and here we have the modern day equivalents 🙂

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          • Oh yes, I thought you’d get the genteel poverty immediately as it was such a feature of life for governesses and spinster ladies of the 19th century. Having said that it was still an issue up to the second world war. Have just finished listening to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s ‘The Cazalet Chronicles’, their old governess, Miss Millament, ends up returning to live with the family during the war, essentially having to rely on their goodwill. Howard said that the character was based on her own governess. Thought-provokingly, my sister, points out that we are not islands and she considers that Western societies in the 21st century has over-prized individualism and self-reliance.

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          • I agree with your sister. When I was in the workforce, even though I was their manager, I used to encourage my team to join their union, despite my advice not being smiled upon by my superiors.

            In fact, in my last job, lobbying for my staff to be paid overtime when they worked on a public holiday contributed to my termination (I was still in the probation months).

            I invariably found that the female uni grads would sneer at the idea of the union, considering that they had those special and unique talents that the world needed and therefore feeling they were in a strong individual bargaining position. Hard to get them to understand that when corporations want to cut back, suddenly you are just a “bum on a seat” to them. Easily replaceable when they are ready to re-hire.

            I have the Cazalet books on my to-read list. Which grows ever-longer . . .


          • I think that the idea of collective action is considered to be far more acceptable by my daughter’s generation (she’s 24) than to those in their forties. She recently supported the lecture staff at her uni and joined their march in London. They appear to see the idea of unions as a positive rather than negative. Maybe the tide is turning after 35 years or so of hard-nosed, anti-union capitalism. Nobody has special and unique talents and everybody is replaceable in the work place. Let’s face it, they replaced Margaret Thatcher, one of their own, says it all!

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  3. How time flies, Gwen. And how strange life can be at times. You had me in stitches. Best of all, when I got to the bottom of your Miskolc post, I saw that I read and “liked” it way back then. Needless to say, I think I have to thank you for entertaining me through the years with your adventures, and the occasional misadventure.

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    • Time flies indeed, and “you’re a long time dead” as they say in the classics. So, as long as I have health and energy, I will continue seek adventures – but I cannot match you for the depth and insight you bring to us through your travels.


      • Thank you for the lovely compliment, Gwen. I am very glad you will keep searching for adventures, as I love your writing style. I love how we all have a different voice, when writing that reflects not only our past, and values, but also how our interaction with the world is impacting and changing us.

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