I wanted to write a series on the most unusual discoveries from my travels so far. Unusual won’t mean anything like beautiful in my series, though occasionally the places I will write about will be of amazing beauty. Today I will present a little quirky “architectural” district of Vásárosnamény (I dare you to say that, fast and ten times in a row!), with a little introduction to what I call “Pure Travel” 🙂
I haven’t traveled a lot this year (Portugal in January, Pisa and Florence in April), and – oh, shock to the system! – I do not have a proper travel planned yet for 2017… It is demands of mine and my partner’s professional life and more so, his health, that stop us from planning an exploration of this year… But this unforgiving, empty and thirsty desert of no travel dreams, stretching at my feet, makes me think of how much travel means in our lives.
And what travel?
In my head, travel and exploration is tightly knit together. I do not “travel”, when I visit people in different places, and I am led by hand towards new views and new tastes. I do not travel if it is some form of organized visit of anything; barring maybe a guided tour of a place I could not visit on my own. And even then, I wish I was left the hell alone 😊
I travel when the road that stretches before me has no name (perish the GPS!), when destinations are but a shadow moving quickly in a kaleidoscope of exploration, when I jump on a train, bus, cart, marshrutka, or walk, unsure where I am going, where will I end up that day.
In my 30s, it became a bit more planned… To my travel partner, it is not just exploration and experience, but a learning process, so as we learn, we go a little slower, experience less frantically but deeper, and I love it too – I learn more. This is where Slow Travel entered my life. It is all about knowing, learning, stopping in place, enjoying the moment and making it last.
But in my 20s, I connected the words “freedom”, “exploration” and my own ADD 😀 with the word “travel” in my head. Me and my former partner went, with a backpack and a little tent, without a plan, around Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, exploring the most unusual places. Between the two of us, we had very little money, but plenty of time – so we did it on the cheap and nearby, but we took our time to explore.
I call that exploration Pure Travel. It is not knowing, rather than knowing: what tastes, sounds, landscapes and cultural convictions you will discover, behind the next bend of the road. You don’t know, which breathtaking landscapes will open beyond the next curve in your hiking path. It is the unknown that defines Pure Travel, the temptation of what lies ahead. No plan and just a draft of destination.
You just go.
On the way, I have sometimes stumbled onto the most unusual discoveries.
The colony of hand-made summer houses in Vásárosnamény (Hungary), or rather, off-town, in the village of Gergelyiugornya, was one of them. It was an interesting self-made “architectural” spot.
We landed in this town, randomly, in 2003. We were looking for a camping field, as we wanted to take a short break in our three week long exploration, and stay somewhere for more than one night. As we crossed the river, walking from the town, and turned towards the small, hot and leafy streets in the bend of the water, we found ourselves in the land of Witch Houses! Baba Jaga’s house in Polish folklore always stands on a hen’s foot, and this is what instantaneously popped up in my mind, when I looked down the street, lined by by eclectic collection of small cabins which stood on thin columns over the river flow, as if afraid to wet their toes in the water. Tends and maybe even hundreds of such houses looked bizarre, smooched together. Walking among them, holiday makers, without a care in the world, in this world of upside-down fairy-tale.
They all looked as if glued together, put up for the season, to be torn down at the summer’s end (obviously that was not the case). Later I learned why, when talking to some of the residents: apparently it was during the Communist times that people were officially allowed to build little summer shacks on tiny plots of land they owned. Since building materials were hard to come by and locals had very little money, they made-did with whatever they could get their hands on. Results are seriously quirky, and even though this place is so off the beaten path you can’t even hear the horses anymore (a little horse humor for you), I suggest a short visit to Tisza river and Brother Grimm Witch Houses district to everyone, who loves quirk in daily life 😃
Photos courtesy of https://kinja.com/nak as the film roll I had from back in 2003 got lost somewhere in the deep vaults, when I moved countries and that pesky thing called life happened to me 🙂 (gasp oldschool technology gasp!). His post was the only other mention I found online of this bizzare cabin town – check it out! 🙂
Leaving you with this slightly grotesque architectural delight, going back to dreaming of travels far and wide!