You know you love hanging with yourself when you land in a country with one gate at the airport, no streetlights, and you’re the only guest at the hotel. It’s even better when you ask the concierge what there is to do for fun in the area, and she looks you in the eye and says, “nothing”. That’s Debrecen (second biggest city in Hungary)! I actually had a grand time, made some new buds, and it was a really great place to get to sit and think and have some ‘me’ time. I just wouldn’t necessarily be a place I would jump to recommend for a classic getaway.
There’s no uber, but tons of cabs that take credit cards straight from the airport. It’s 3,000 HUF to get to the city center, which is about $10. I stayed at Grand Hotel Aranybika, which is in prime location for Kossuth Square, and the Jewish History nearby. It was a huge room which also included a living room and refrigerator, and is super Shabbos friendly if you ever needed to run a Shabbaton in Debrecen. The hotel itself has a lot of history, having been built in 1915 by an Olympic medalist.
There are two older shuls a four minute walk from the hotel, which are not currently in use (Pasti synagogue and Kapolnasi synagogue). They do have contact information and seemingly will open for if you call – their number to call is +36302393621. Almost confident there is no kosher meals available in Debrecen in general.
Kossuth Square is directly outside the hotel, and during the winter it’s quiet cute. There are little winter stands set up, where different cultural food is made. None of it is kosher obviously, but really cool to watch them make it. The locals even invited me to help me cook the food. Kossuth Square also had a giant ferris wheel called the Eye of Debrecen, as well as ice skating. Ice skating didn’t include any actual ice, it ended up being wet plastic and I couldn’t really move far. But it was really fun to get to hang with the locals and make new friends, and see how other people live outside of America! I was also the first Jew they had ever met, which was pretty neat 🙂