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Meet Attila and listen to his adventures in Transylvania

Attila Vastag went on the ReConnect Translyvania trip this past summer (2019), right after his 2-week birthright experience with ReConnect Hungary. Read his summary below and see why he had the time of his life.

As I was on my way to the airport, feeling excited about the upcoming week, but at the same time wistful about the people I would be leaving behind. I could not believe how these two weeks had flew by so fast, and the amount of things we all were able to do and the many wonderful places we were able to visit and experience. As I am waiting in line to check in to my flight, I was sharing my favorite memories and adventures with Gabor and Lili before I would say goodbye to them. When I boarded the plane all I remember is closing my eyes and when I opened them we had safely landed in Marosvásárhely. The airport was pretty small which meant that it took no more than fifteen minutes to gather our belongings and meet both our tour guides and the chauffer. Our first destination from Marosvásárhely was Kolozsvár, Transylvania’s capital city. On our way there we introduced ourselves to our tour guides and anyone who wasn’t on the Hungary trip with us. When we arrived I could not believe how big Kolozsvár actually was. We ended up doing a city tour starting at the Fortress Hill which overlooked the entire city, which followed with a stroll through the biggest park in Kolozsvár called Parcul Central where we ended up having lunch nearby. Afterwards we ended up going to Mátyás Kiraly’s childhood house, statues, popular landmarks, dinner, then back to our bed and breakfast. The next day we started to head east to Torockò, but before we stopped at the Turda Salt Mine. The mine is a conical chamber 112 meters deep and 67 meters wide at the base. When were at the bottom there is a lake where we went row boating, and as I started to get hungry I started to lick the walls or break off balls of salt. As we arrived in Torockò it was very different from the other places that we had recently visited because it was in the middle of nowhere, quiet, and serene. We ended up staying in bed and breakfast for two nights. The next day was hiking day because we climbed up Székelykò, a large mountain that overlooks Torockò and the surrounding mountains around it. The entire hike up and down ended up taking approximately five and a half to six hours. It ended up taking so long because of how steep the mountain was, the rugged terrain, and the fuming, hot, dry weather.

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I have much respect for the tour guides that have to do that trip every year. When we arrived back at the bed and breakfast a delicious lunch was waiting for us that included Somodi kalács which is very hard to get because they only make it Torockò and they do not make it all the time, it is a seasonal pastry. After Torockò, we headed to Szováta which is famous for Medve Tò, a salt water lake that from an aerial view is in the shape similar to a bear. After showing off my summer body at the lake and my tattoo that I recently got in Budapest; once again sorry mom, we ended up getting ice cream.

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In Szováta they had this kürtõs kalács ice cream where the kalács was used as the ice cream stuffed with your choice of melted chocolate. After we ended up heading to a bed and breakfast in Zetelaka where we ended up staying two nights. Walking the streets at night I felt as if I was in a horror movie and someone was watching me, but I could not see who or from where. The next day we spent the entire day experiencing and learning how to make rugs, ropes, fresh bread, kürtõs kalács, and etc.

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The next day we ended up going to Csiksomlyò to visit a well known Roman Catholic church in the village center. Afterwards we visited a Székely festival where a mass was held at the top of a hill and you could also get traditional food or even buy traditional clothing, accessories, etc. It was hot that day so to cool down we went to a thermal bath where they say the water is supposed to heal whatever part of your body you dip in and sit there for at least thirty minutes. It was painful at first because the water was fifteen degrees Celsius, but for the rest of the my legs did in a way feel “healed”. We finished the day by going to a bed and breakfast. We started off our day by going to the Csiki Sör beer factory; you can probably figure out how this went, younger people at a beer factory where they served you an unlimited amount of drinks. I’ll let you process it in your head. Afterwards, we traveled all the way to the old border of when Transylvania belonged to Hungary. We climbed to the top of an old fortress that is in ruins and has beautiful sceneries of present Romania on one side and on the other side what used to be a part of Hungary. We ended up staying the night at the same bed and breakfast. The next day we started to drive back in the other direction until we reached Szegesvár where we were given a tour of the city center and the fortress that the city is so well known for. It is a very nice, old, traditional city. We then drove back to Marosvásárhely where we had a group dinner and got ready for their long trip home, except me. The next morning we drove straight to the airport in Marosvásárhely where the tour guides and I said our goodbyes and wished everyone a safe trip home. After everyone went through the security gates we exited the airport and now I was the only one left. We drove to Kolozsvár where I met with my uncle and cousin who would drive me back to the rest of my distant family members in Nagyvárad. This had marked the end of my birthright trip.

This ReConnect Hungary birthright trip one hundred percent exceeded my expectations and I would without a doubt do it again. One of the most important reasons why this trip was so special is because of the people you meet and are together with for the next two to three weeks. They are the ones that make it memorable. I know who they’re and they know who they’re. As time comes to an end it becomes hard to say goodbye to them, especially when back home the people you had the most fun with live the farthest away from you, but that’s life. You’re definitely not going to like everyone on this trip, but you have to deal with it. If you reading this, especially the end does not convince you to do this trip then here’s something extra. You’re in a foreign country with at least twenty other younger people ranging from ages 18-28 for two to three weeks with no parents. Try to imagine what you could do because I can definitely remember and some things will be hard to forget.

Sarah Carroll, RH ‘18

The program helped me not only to come close to my ancestry, but find myself and a path for my future...

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Mark Czeisler, RH'18

ReConnect Hungary is a fantastic way for young adults of Hungarian heritage to learn.

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Madison Fritz, RH'18

The program provides a network of Hungarian people, who can all share something.

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