Maybe a Day Stay in Sopron. Maybe More. Maybe Wine?

As far as small, enjoyable towns go, Sopron (pronounced Show-prone) has to be one of the more enjoyable places I’ve visited in quite some time. Having just come from Brno, the immediate reaction would be to compare it to that town, but that would be a misnomer as Sopron is quite different. In size, it’s a town of about 70,000, which makes it closer to other cities I’ve visited like Varaždin than a place like Brno.
It’s history dates back to Roman times (and I mean, what in the southern half of Europe doesn’t seem to date back to Roman times, huh?) and it was in about the 12th century where the town became more important when they built the Fire Tower that stands at the top of the old town. In 1921, they earned their status as the “most loyal Hungarian town” when, as they were technically part of Austria, in a referendum, 65% of the residents voted to be with Hungary. We knew that before we went there and already liked them for this fact.
The history and nationality issues show in the town. It’s a lovely old town that is easily walked in a day or so if one is to meander the scattered bits of the old wall as well as go to the top of the fire tower, which give a great and revealingly solitary view of the town. As for interaction with the residents, if you don’t speak Hungarian or German, things get a bit dicey. On more than one occasion when we asked if someone spoke English, they would say what they had just said in German, again, but in a much slower German that to some degree actually worked to get the point across.
Once done with the old town, we discovered that there are a few more nooks and crannies to the town as well. When you go up above the “top” of the old town there is a neighborhood with curious houses, wandering streets, and an church. If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll see a flock of Japanese tourists there with you, photographing like mad. All in all, various parts of the town reminded me a great deal of the hills about Sarajevo although “hills” are an exaggeration since the landscape is mild and rolling.
The landscape of the area is quite good for one big thing though, which is wine growing. That would be the main reason I’d recommend for anyone to stay longer than a day. There does happen to be a good wine bar at the top of the old town where you can sample just about everything that the region has to offer. But of course, the best thing to do is to see the wineries themselves and if one is a red wine lover, one is in luck as that’s about all they grow in these region. They can’t really grow whites due to the Tokaji region in the east domination that market. We managed to pop in a visit to Pfneiszl who are a couple of sisters from a winemaking family that are doing some great things with 27 hectares (67 acres in metric-so-scary-land) of vineyards their family got back from Hungary after de-collectivization. This I’ll write about more on Blue Danube where I do most wine writings these days.
So to sum up: Sopron good, guidebooks don’t sell it enough, not a lot of tourists, good food, good wine, quiet, and good train connections to Vienna and Budapest. If you’re in the area, check it out. Just bring your German language with you.
Maybe a Day Stay in Sopron.  Maybe More.  Maybe Wine?