My recent weight loss suddenly seemed more of a blessing than ever because if my arse had been just a single centimetre wider it would have got stuck in the narrowest of spiral staircases I had ever known. The route to the top of this forty metre high, sturdy but slender structure was a bit like a cross between the Cu Chi Tunnels near Saigon and Blackpool Tower in Blackpool.
The viewing platform approximately eight metres from the top was even narrower than the stairway so that the dozen or so fat tourists that accompanied me up there had trouble breathing, let alone finding space to stand to take in the panoramic views of the old town below without touching another fat tourist. I touched many fat tourists so I was happy. In the thick of the elevated throng I was unbelievably tempted to ask someone where the toilets were but as my temporary travel companions all seemed to be of the German or Hungarian tongue I didn’t bother wasting my time on humour.
Back down at the bottom, just beside the gift shop / wheelbarrow, I did bother to waste a little of my time on humour. A Hungarian lady, who had really struggled with the steps going up and down, was taking a photograph of the Minaret from its base. Gesturing with my hands as I did so, I told her to run back up to the viewing platform and I would take a picture of her standing there. She did laugh but not so much in appreciation of humour as in nervousness of being approached by a crazy foreign type. That picture, sadly, was never taken.
The strange thing about Eger’s minaret is that only the fact that it is the only one for hundreds so miles makes it so photogenic. It hasn’t even got a mosque attached, for Allah’s sake! That was destroyed in 1841 to make way for a Tesco. There are much more impressive minarets to be seen in places I have visited like Iran and Morocco and Leeds but, because there are so many of them there, no one bats an eyelid or a lens shutter.