Our 2014 Hungarian Rail Trip 1/4 - Hortobágy

In the summer of 2014, we continued to explore Hungary, which by that point was still a relatively new country to me. Julcsi planned us a fun-filled, jam-packed 9-day rail trip, mostly to the northern part of the country. Our first stop was Debrecen (where I broke my toe the previous year) and from there Hortobágy National Park before heading to Miskolc and the tinier holiday resort of Miskolc-Tapolca, Eger and finally Budapest. It was a sweaty but fabulous nine days!

So, first we took the train from Szeged to Debrecen, which wasn't really one of our main destinations this time. It is, however, in a good location if you want to visit Hortobágy National Park, which it's only 42 km away from Debrecen (around 50 mins by train) so I recommend having Debrecen as your base if you want to do a trip like this. We stayed at Stop Panzió, a hotel that was basically in the city centre. When you travel in Hungary and are looking for inexpensive accommodation, the place to go to is szallas.hu - you won't find anything much on Hostelworld, for example. The problem with szallas.hu is that it's only in Hungarian, but if you search for places, you will be able to see if the hotel/B&B/hostel/pension house in question has someone who speaks English (angol in Hungarian). So, even if you don't speak Hungarian, you can still use this website.

Anyway, once we'd arrived in Debrecen, we didn't do anything much. It was raining so we checked in, watched some football on TV and then once the weather had got better, went downtown for a stroll. Debrecen is quite small even if it is one of the biggest towns in Hungary, so it won't take long until you've seen everything worth seeing. The downtown area is really pretty, though - see for yourself:

On our second day, or first full day, we went to Hortobágy National Park. It's in the Great Plain, meaning that in the summer, it will be very, very, VERY hot with practically no shadow to hide in. So, make sure you bring a hat and a lot of water and cover yourself with sunscreen. You'll probably burn despite these precautions, but at least I'll have warned you :D! The national park has a couple of etnographic museums and also places where you can meet typically Hungarian animals. You could basically choose what you wanted to see and then pay separately for those attractions, but some things are also included in the general entrance fee, for example the Herdsmen Museum. We were mostly into the animals, though, and headed to the Wild Animal Park (Vadaspark) straight away. You catch a tiny bus there and have 90 minutes to explore before being taken to the next place, Pusztapark, where you get to meet and pet domestic animals typical of the area.

Hortobágy itself is a tiny little place.

The train dropping us off at Hortobágy station.

Storks <3!

Exploring the museums.

Typical Hungarian ginger bread, mézeskalács.

Off to meet the animals!

I really liked both animal parks - they weren't too big but still provided enough space for the animals to have a nice life there. Both parks have quite basic animals, such as wild horses, donkeys, sheep, cows and so on.

Off to the Pusztapark!

Me with a racka juh, a Hungarian sheep breed with spiral-shaped horns.
In the Pusztapark, you could buy food for the animals and we obviously wanted to do that. Little did we know that the animals would go completely nuts over the food! We made the mistake of joining the goats in their pen and were greeted by a bunch of VERY greedy little things who smashed my toes completely, heh! Julcsi, on the other hand, was attacked by a greedy donkey, and ended up falling on a hay stack :D. Other than that, we had nice encounters with racka juh sheep, regular sheep, a horse, a cat...They were all happy to meet visitors :).

Once we'd met all the animals, we caught the mini bus back to the Visitors Centre and had lunch at a restaurant there. They had a lot of traditional dishes on offer, which was nice and perfect for a national park like this :).

Pretty Julcsi!

The restaurant.
Once we'd eaten, we had a closer look at Kilenclyukú híd, or the Nine-Holed Bridge, which is a famous Hortobágy sight.

Before leaving, we visited a bird hospital, which was the most heartbreaking place ever. Or, obviously it's really nice that they have such a place there to help the wounded birds, but it was just so sad to see the bird patients :(. They could have bandages around their leg or wing, things like that.

Once we got back to Debrecen, we still did some type of random wandering around the town and took pictures of a football-related flower arrangement there...

Cool, no? Anyways, the following morning, we caught the train to Miskolc and then the bus to Miskolc-Tapolca, which were our destinations for the following three days. More about that later, stay tuned!


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