One of the highlights of Budapest is literally an underground secret… the Pál-völgyi Caves. After three days of strolling around yet another grand, centuries old European city (as fascinating and beautiful as they are), I was ready to escape the busy streets and get a little dirt under my nails. My friend and I opted for an ‘ Adventure Tour’ of the caves.
This wasn’t your average stroll from chamber to chamber along a paved path… it was definitely a tour for the ‘adventurous’. We climbed through the naturally formed passages: clambering over the jagged rock floor, sliding down steep drops, pulling ourselves up and over boulders and squeezing through multiple tunnels and impossibly small holes. For a good five minutes we turned off our lights and army crawled our way through a tiny tunnel barely shoulder width wide in complete darkness, with only the sound of our guides voice and the grunts and squeals of those who had dared to enter before us. The claustrophobic amongst us were probably glad the lights were off and that we couldn’t see the impossibly small space we were squeezing ourselves through.
Our tour guide was an energetic and informed avid caver, who had been taking the tours for 9 years and although entertaining, may have been suffering from a little cabin fever. He stopped us every now and again to let us catch our breath, while he told us the history of the caves, pointed out crystals and other interesting formations and entertained us with exciting tales from his personal caving expeditions. At one point he asked us to turn our lights off and sit in silence. As we sat there in complete darkness with nothing but the soft ring of silence in our ears, it was hard to believe that just a few meters above us, the city was buzzing with people rushing about in the never ending, never slowing, daily grind.
I highly recommend this tour to anyone traveling to Budapest. It was a refreshing change from strolling the streets, sightseeing castles, monuments, parks and influential buildings. It was a great way to see another side of the city… the underside.