Volcanic Adventure in Hungary’s Zemplén Mountains – Photos

Volcanic Adventure in Hungary’s Zemplén Mountains – Photos

Last Saturday I joined a group from Miskolc’s Factory Climbing Gym for a trip to nearby Sólyomkő . Located in north-east Hungary near the Slovakian border, Sólyomkő  is an andesite cliff band nestled in the Zemplén Mountains. For me it was especially exciting not just to visit a new area, but to do so with my new Hungarian friends. While the weather looked ominous as we sped through small towns along the way, it turned out to be a beautiful and fun-filled day. We pulled into Hecje, one of Hungary’s oldest settlements (it appears in records from 1009), and after a failed attempt to find coffee made our way into the hills. Despite the short time in Hecje, I was enamored by its stone walls and farmhouses from another era. After a short drive up a dirt road we parked and hiked for about 20 minutes through the forest. Near a large meadow we came upon a masterfully carved wooden figure (sorry no pictures). The carving stands atop a spring where a few of the guys filled their bottles. Following another 15 minutes of hiking we arrived at Sólyomkő. The volcanic cliff is hidden behind a wall of beech trees and offers a wide variety of features and angles. Zoli (read my interview) had four of his students along to learn gear placements, anchor building and rappelling techniques. Gábor , Viktor and I spent the day climbing routes Zoli had recommended to us. Aside from seriously hard routes, Sólyomkő offers something for climbers of all abilities in a fantastic setting. In fact, I’m already thinking about my next trip! DIRECTIONS: The map below shows the...
6 Reasons to Visit Hungary in 2015

6 Reasons to Visit Hungary in 2015

Deciding where to spend your precious vacation time, and in turn your hard earned cash, is a daunting task. Personally, I have enormous difficulty narrowing it down to a single destination or type of holiday. Do I want a tropical island getaway, or to wander the streets of a historic European capital? Or perhaps a mountain town escape or an exotic far-flung cultural odyssey might do the trick? If you’re like me you want to see and do it all, but ultimately for most of us it comes down to time and money. Hungary might not fill the top slot in your upcoming travel plans, and I get that. However, the six reasons below could just convince you of Hungary’s rightful place on your short list of must see places in 2015. 1. Festivals: Hungarians know how to party From nationwide cultural events such as St. Stephen’s Day celebrations, to the world famous summer-time Sziget Music Festival in Budapest—2015 is a carousel of fun. Whether you want to party like a rock star or sip wine while watching traditional folk dancing, it’s all going down this year in Hungary. And with each season comes a unique reason to celebrate. Summer is all about music and carefree parties, while winter features countrywide Christmas markets and Farsang, Hungary’s own brand of Carnival.  Notable events include the Budapest Gourmet Festival, the Balaton Sound music party at Lake Balaton, the Bull’s Blood Wine Festival in Eger and the Busójárás Farsang in Mohács . Tons of other regional festivals also take place throughout the year, with everything from chestnuts to ancient Hungarian heritage and Palinka...
Idealistic and Naïve – coming of age on the streets of Dublin

Idealistic and Naïve – coming of age on the streets of Dublin

Decisions always result in consequences. Therefore big decisions result in big consequences. In 2004 I made the decision to move to Ireland; I didn’t know it at the time but it was to be the start of a beautiful relationship—with a woman and with a world. We often romanticize travel and journeys into the unknown, overlooking the gritty details of what are typically impulsive and uneducated choices made by fools like myself. Life however, as I’ve come to realize, is more of an improv jam session than a masterfully composed symphony. You follow your heart, and while there may be a trail of blood, wounds heal . . . forgiveness prevails. And this epic odyssey we all live is that much more entertaining—even if it hurts. 2004. Dublin, Ireland It was a monochrome November day. People in black coats and shoes hurried along the sidewalks amidst the dullness; grimy concrete, black iron fencing and all pervasive drizzle.  I was in Dublin, Ireland, wandering the quays and cobbled streets in search of work. On Westmoreland St.― across from Trinity College at the Irish Parliament House― I was approached by a dark haired man in a forest green jacket. “Friends of the Earth” was printed on the breast. “Do you have a minute to talk about the environment?” he asked with a Northern Irish accent and a mischievous look. I didn’t know it, but I was about to become a chugger. It was 2005, I was 20 and eager for change.  After leaving Ireland with my family at the age of three and immigrating to California, I had decided that a move back...