Back to Nature

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Miskolc is not the most photogenic of cities.   As  the old industrial city of Hungary it probably wasn’t going to top the list in the first place, but then the communist government in another one of their bursts of stupidity decided they should tear down a lot of the lovely old houses for ugly block apartments instead.   Put it this way, I once met a pair of girl backpackers in Western Europe excited to get to Poland to tour a “Soviet planned community” and I stared  at them in incomprehension.

A few minutes outside Miskolc, fortunately, is a completely different story-

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These are the Bükk mountains, which means literally the “beech mountains” thanks to the ten million beech trees everywhere.   It’s regarded by many as the prettiest terrain in Hungary.   And if you go out in the springtime when the wildflowers are blooming and you get that beautiful new green color,
well!

My first adventure in the hills was on a hike with my mom’s cousin Klari-

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Klari  is one of those very outdoorsy people who you feel could hike through the entire mountain range without getting lost once.   Our goal on the hike was the famous-in-Hungary Szeleti Cave, one of over a thousand caves in the Bukk-

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Which is pretty huge inside, and I got to use my headlamp!

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The Szeleti Cave is noteworthy because a century ago a naturalist named Otto Herman discovered Stone Age artifacts in said cave.  And on a random tangent, I also really don’t like it when Hungarians have two first names as their real name, because you say your last name first (I am “Cendes Yvette” rather than the other way around) so I always get a touch confused.

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One of the many, many beautiful views Klari and I saw along our hike.  Beyond being a lovely person, the reason it was fun to hike with Klari is because she falls into that class of people who knew my mom while growing up and can tell me stories from a different perspective or ones I never heard of altogether.  My favorite involved a hiking expedition that ended in disaster thanks to Soviet Premier Khruschev visiting Miskolc that day- a story I think I’ll leave hanging like that because your imagination will probably come up with a better story than the one I would tell.

image647A view of the final destination of the trip, Lillafured with its lovely “Palace Hotel.”  It’s a small resort area for tourists not at all far from Miskolc that was a highlight to visit each summer because of this-image653Known as the kis vasut (“little train”) it runs from Miskolc to Lillafured in about a half hour, and trust me when you’re six this is the coolest thing ever. (Actually when you’re older too- I think my dad was always as excited about the trip as we were, and I rode it once with my grandma this year too just to reconfirm its awesomeness.)

So that was my first little adventure into the Miskolc surrounds.  The second one I’m posting almost just to freak the hell out of my animal rights activist friends-

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That’s right kids, my uncle took me hunting! To clarify, hunting in Hungary is not exactly the same as the “Ah wanna kill summin’ so I cayn be a man!” redneck stereotype one encounters in the US, but rather a necessary thing to do because there are no more natural predators in the country.  So every year the hunting clubs are given a quota by the government on how many wild boar, deer, elk, etc. they can shoot to keep the population at sustainable levels. (They do this in a lot of countries actually, like how kangaroos are culled every year in Australia.)

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Me in the watchtower in the picture above, taking in the view-image638We arrived over an hour before dusk and didn’t stay much after 9pm because there was no moon.  Saw two deer that came for the salt lick, but my uncle didn’t shoot because he was only going to shoot for elk if he saw one.  Actually the way to think of my uncle is he mainly uses hunting as an excuse to get out into the forest and observe how it changes day to day.  I have never met a person more in love with nature in general and animals in particular than him.

One response to “Back to Nature

  1. umm… your headlamp? Sad that my rodent-chewed headlamp is more traveled than me 😦

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