Europe Day Six: Hungary To Slovakia. A Scenic And Informative Three Hour Drive With A Stop In Historic Holloko

Europe Day Six: Hungary To Slovakia. A Scenic And Informative Three Hour Drive With A Stop In Historic Holloko

Holloko Hungary (11 of 25)
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After my Sunday morning walk I had breakfast at the  Hilton Hotel in Budapest, Hungary, packed  and checked out of my hotel at 10 a.m.   I was leaving Hungary and my driver , Marek was waiting to  transport me to  the  Slovakian city of Kosice.  I would stay here for five days, hoping to find the villages where my great grandparents were born. We where soon on the highway engaging in conversations on so many subjects. He knew so much about the history, culture and natural environment of both Hungary and Slovakia. And  he was also  enjoyed  hunting for wild mushrooms like me! 

It was about a three hour drive to Kosice, a city I never heard of before  I decided to make this trip a week before I left. I had  five days to learn a little about it. . My  driver told me there were some thunderstorms on his drive down, but, although the skies  looked threatening, it did  not rain.  

We did not drive directly to Kosice. I had arranged a visit to the  Palocz village of  Holloko , a UNESCO World Heritage Site near the Hungary/Slovakia border.  So we left the main highway and drove through some small towns and villages.  

I learned so much and  Marek pointed out so many small details, like showing me the stork nests in the villages and explaining  how the villagers thought they were  good luck and  how they protect them. 

After about an hour drive we arrived in  Hollok.  It was now sunny, perfect weather to explore this historic village.  It  was, and is,  occupied by  the  Palocz people, an ethic minority who claim to be the  first  people to live in  Hungary. They are a farming people and their village and culture is centered upon this rural lifestyle,

Unfortunately, I only had an hour to explore the city and wasn’t able to see it all. 

The village is old, dating back to the 13th century.  However the castle  and original homes were destroyed during the Turkish invasion. The village was rebuilt in  the 17th century after the Turks were expelled. Although the  homes and buildings in the village are built in the 17th century style  almost all of the original structures were lost in fires over the years.  

I walked down the pretty  narrow  main street of the village,   

where there  the homes were  still maintained  to look as they were three to four hundred years ago. As I  said earlier,  most  of the original wooden buildings  have been destroyed in fires over the years. However the residents still maintain the customs and lifestyles of their ancestors. 

I visited the quaint wooden church,

located near the entrance to the village, 

and walked past the beautiful flowers gardens in most of the yards. 

Small shops were also located  in some of the homes. 

I  also got to experience a very moving traditional dance performed by the young girls of the village. 

My time in the village passed quickly and I had to leave, I didn’t get to visit the ruins of the castle and many other sites,

such as this cemetery I saw on my walk out of the village. It was still another great experience and my last one before I left the beautiful country of Hungary. Here is a link to a gallery in my blog website with more photos from my visit to Holloko. Europe Day Six: Hungary Holloko June 5 2022. 

We were back on the road again, and soon  entered the  county my paternal grandparents parents were born. I was excited driving across the  unsecured border into Slovakia.

At first the lands were flat. This was part of the great fertile plain  that extends from  the Ukraine to the east. 

The weather was nice as we drove through some small  cities and towns. 

Cumulus clouds floated in the mostly clear skies.

My driver, Marek, was explaining so much about the daily lives of the folks who live in this remote area of eastern Slovakia. 

We soon were approaching  the hills  of northeastern Slovakia, 

and  at first, the lush beech forests. 

The forest  would become mixed with pine as we climbed higher into the hills. The air smelled so fresh and clean. We talked about our knowledge of mushrooms, and knew so many of the same edible species that grow in both of our countries. I plan to return in the fall and search for some in the mountains as I am sure my ancestors did. 

The hills became higher and we drove through areas rich in iron deposits the were mined  for many centuries. The exposed red colored rock on some of the hills would be an indication of the iron ore contained in the rocks. 

We drove past the ruins  of this castle as we neared the city of Kosice. 

Kosice was important since the 13th century because of the iron deposits and it’s location on a trade route from the Baltic Sea  to the Balkans and the Aegean and Adriatic Seas.  The city declined in the middle ages but once again grew when a large steel plant was built in the 1960’s. The steel plants was recently acquired by U. S. Steel. and now employs 12,000 workers. It is the largest employer in Slovakia.  We soon passed the steel plant and,

and were within the limits of the city of 250,000 residents. Marek dropped me off  at the Hilton Hotel where I would be staying the next four days. I said farewell to Marek and checked into my hotel, I was excited and  quickly took my luggage to my room. I was soon exploring the streets of Kosice Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my drive from Hungary to Slovakia. Europe Day Six Drive to Slovakia June 5 2022. 

When I go to a foreign country I want to explore and get lost, discover the real place.

Brook Lopez

This is my first post