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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Last view from Pecs, Hungary, NOT pecs as in muscles!

I should have mentioned in my last post about this town that Pecs is pronounced 'Paych' and that's how I've been thinking of it for so long, I stupidly didn't pick up on how you all wouild be thinking of it naturally as Pecs as in pecs! Thanks, Lina, for making me think of the obvious.

Zsolnay Porcelain: Thanks to the pioneering Zsolnay family of Pecs, buildings all over Hungary are covered with gorgeously colorful porcelain. The 1st porcelain factory was opened in Pecs in 1853 by Miklos Zsolnay but the real breakthrough came at the hands of his son, Vilmos, who experimented with glazes and additives and revolutionized the use of porcelain in building materials. He invented a type of ceramic called pyrogranite to create porcelain decorative elements that were as resilient as steel and weather proof, but still could delicately sculpted and painted any color of the rainbow. The Zsolnay pyrogranite made a huge splash at the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna, garnering the factory an avalanche of orders from all over Europe. 20 years later, in 1893, he unveiled his latest creation, eosin, that we first saw in the Zsolnay Fountain on the town square.

The same day we saw the pop art Vasarely Gallery, the Tettye Ruins, etc, we then hiked all the way to the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter where there are a large number of buildings, including the ‘manufactory’ and history museum, the family’s mausoleum, a planetarium, art gallery, puppet theater, guest house and finally the university quarter all collected in one area of Pecs. We had thought that was where the Zsolnay Museum was but didn’t pay close enough attention to the map we had! Guess we’d have flunked Amazing Race 101!

Since we’d walked all the way there, I toured the superb Golden Age of Zsolnay: the Gyugi Collection amassed by a Hungarian while spending much of his life in the States working for Westinghouse, while Steven took a well deserved break in the sun on a park bench.

This wine flask is big enough to hold 54 liters!

The 1st Julia vase

The 2nd Julia vase
Some of the 'eosin' ware.

On the left is a Zsolnay factory made piece from 1898 titled 'Pitcher with Forest Landscape.' On the right is one with the same name, made by the Owen China Company in Ohio from 1906. The company soon went out of business as their products were seen as disappointing reproductions of Zsolnay's work and didn't hold up well.

Spent quite a bit of time trying to find the Zsolnay Gift Shop but was disappointed when we finally found it squirreled away in an alley well away from the rest of the Zsolnay buildings. After coming a fair piece, I spent a moment or two inside but left aghast at the prices and very small selection.
The cup and saucer were sold separately; the latter is a mere $53.
Fancy the lovely footed bowl? It'll only set you back $5,100!

I am sure you are perplexed why there's a photo of a ketchup packet here! After walking for probably 6 miles and knowing we had a fair piece still to walk before reaching the hostel, we decided to pop into McDonald's to grab some fries for Steven and a cone for myself; turns out this itty bitty ketchup sets you back .40 in Hungary. I don't think I'll ever take too many ketchup packets again when eating fast food in the US. Wonder if they'll ever start charging for ketchup in the US.

The next morning, just before leaving Pecs, we walked to the nearby Zsolnay Porcelain Museum located in the former mansion of the Zsolnay family. It’s as much a shrine to the family as a showcase to their work. The collection was divided into 2 parts: architectural elements and decorative ware. I especially loved the latter that displayed vases, sculptures and other objects that demonstrate the evolution of porcelain style. It was interesting to see how patterns came and went over time. Also loved the spinning table that allowed me to inspect each place setting of Zsolnay dinnerware, including their own silverware and glasses.

More of the eosin ware. I sure was crazy about it when seeing the Fountain for the 1st time, but became fond of it after seeing so much of it and in such different forms too,

On our way back to the hostel to get our gear and dash off to the train station, we encountered a big race throught the city streets just about to begin.

Back outside our hostel with the racers streaming by. Luckily, we had timed it so we didn't get trampled by any of the stragglers nor, more importantly, interfere with the racers as we lugged our bags along the road! Budapest, here we come!