The Good Life in Aggtelek National Park Part 98: The Beatles Museum in Ege
We had planned to take our granddaughter Lili to Eger last month but for some reason we did something else. The choice was helped by the fact that when I tried to introduce her to Beatles music she did not like it. Instead, she put The Random Chocolates on repeat play, her new favourite band. I'm not complaining. With a free Sunday and the garden still frozen, Kata and I decided to make a day trip. Getting to the centre was not well marked so Kata just hung a left off the main road when she spotted the twin-spired church and parked the car. We were in luck - we had parked only a few meters from the main downtown walking street Széchenyi út, and an easy 5 minute walk to The Beatles Museum (3300 Eger, Csiky Sándor utca 30), or "Egri Road." The museum actually takes up 2 floors and the wine cellar below the Hotel Eger Korona. I have never been in a museum, or anything for that matter in Hungary (or elsewhere in the world really), with a more enthusiastic reception from the ticket taker. The man was overenthusiastic to tell us all about the Beatles and the museum, the words will spilling so quickly from his mouth that I had trouble following. It did not matter. He was happy and could not contain himself from sharing. He first took us down into the former wine cellar that is now made up to resemble a WWII bomb shelter (complete with air raid sound effects) to remind us that the Fab Four where born in Liverpool during the war. Liverpool, being a strategic port, was levelled by German bombing. After the short, 12 minute introductory film, we rejoined the guide. After several more minutes of information, we were left on our own to explore. The museum, just a fraction of the collection that is also housed in the hotel and the founder's house, is awe- inspiring even for the casual Beatles listener. The displays are accompanied by soundtracks both on loudspeaker and through headphones placed at different stations. Running along the baseboards is a world timeline, putting Beatles events into historical perspective. From the start one wonders how these things were procured. John and Paul's original birth certificates (not just official copies), all forms of signed memorabilia, toys, key chains, Yellow Submarine Lego sets, comic books, original reel-to-reel studio recordings, LPs and 45s, original doodles and lyric scribbles (Lucy in the Sky), fanzines, ticket stubs, videos, photographs, original bricks and stage pieces from the Cavern Club, a drum kit given by Ringo ("never dusted because his fingerprints are on it")...Not only did Gábor Peterdi need the time, money and energy to collect these items, he also needed to authenticate it all. He has been collecting since he was 9 years old and saw A Hard Day's Night. There were even squares of sheets sold off by a hotel they once stayed in. The only things missing were urine and stool samples, but maybe those are stored elsewhere. The museum is in chronological order with all signs in both Hungarian and English.
Our friends recommended the Senator Hotel's restaurant for lunch but it was double what we were prepared to pay for lunch, and there was not a single vegetarian option. The vegetarian restaurant in town was closed on Sundays, so we wandered until we settled on the Bar Italia in the main square. I had spinach-ricotta cannelloni with penny bun mushroom ragout and truffle oil, while Kata had pasta with beet, toasted almonds and bacon bits. We also had a side salad. My cannelloni was tasty, even if I did not notice the penny bun or truffle flavours. The portion was large and the pasta was thick-walled and fresh. The Italians seem to prefer thin pizza crusts, so I am not sure if this was a good sign or not. Kata also enjoyed her dish, but would have preferred the beet being worked in better; say as an ingredient in the pasta dough, rather than bits on top. The green salad was also large, mainly consisting of garden rocket, cress and beet leaves. The rose water-basil lemonade was good, but lacked any hint of the advertised basil which had enticed me in the first place to order it. The salad dressing I asked for did not arrive (no matter, an extra 180 HUF charge anyway), and the waiter kind of stared into space while taking our order, but otherwise it was an enjoyable, filling and affordable meal.
For dessert and coffee we stopped at an old-style pastry shop Harmos Cukrázda on Széchenyi út where Kata had spotted "Horvat Krémes" for sale in the morning. I always try the cheese croissants and she always samples the krémes. They were sold out of the Horvat Kremes, so Kata had a mézes krémes. I had an Oreo something. Both were dry, but maybe that was because it was nearing the end of the day.