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  • Day239

    Day 240: Hortobagy National Park

    October 12, 2017 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Woke up this morning feeling worse again, very clogged up and full of phlegm. Not fun! But we don't have any leeway built into the itinerary, so loaded up the car and headed off. First up we had about two hours of driving to the south-east, to the UNESCO listed Hortobagy national park.

    This area is part of the plain of central Hungary, and is the largest grassland area remaining in central Europe. Once we left Eger, the terrain flattened out and pretty soon it was 100% flat, almost that if you'd climbed a small step-ladder you could see for hundreds of kilometres. It was quite eerie, since I'm not used to that sort of landscape at all - I know we have them in Australia, but not anywhere I've ever been.

    Arrived in Hortobagy around 11am, where we had a look around. There were a few "folk museums" show-casing the traditional way of life, but they looked a bit crappy and we decided to skip. Did some filming here and there, but when it's a totally flat landscape it's not so easy to find interesting viewpoints!

    One of the interesting things though, were the provincial inns, as they were traditionally the only buildings around. In earlier times, these areas weren't settled at all and were just grazed during the summer. The soil is also very poor since it's a pre-historic salt lake bed, so crops can't be grown here. So the inns were basically the only beacons of life anywhere on the plains.

    Drove out of the "town" in both directions, looking for interesting stuff but coming up short, though we did find a paleolithic burial mound which was cool. At a couple of metres tall it was probably the highest elevation for hundreds of miles. The national park is apparently a great spot for bird-watching, and we saw what was likely an eagle flying around, but armed only with an iPhone we were decidedly under-equipped for that!

    After a nice traditional lunch in the inn we got back in the car and drove northwards to our stop for the night - Tokaj. This is the heart of Hungary's wine industry, where there are hundreds of vineyards scattered around the hills (it's just north of the plains area). Arriving by late afternoon, I was again too tired and over it to do anything but have a nap in the hotel room while Shandos explored the little town. We've got all of tomorrow to explore the area and do filming, since of course this is a UNESCO heritage area as well.
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