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Welcome to The Lotus Position, an intermittent collection of extempore navel gazings, ponderings, whinges, whines, pontifications and diatribes.

Everything is based on a Sample of One: these are my views, my experiences... caveat lector... read the Disclaimer

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Down, Down. Deeper and Down.

Well, that was quite a weekend! Dean arrived Friday (12th June - need to put that it now it's been so long) and we did the usual - a few beers at Godor and then... not quite sure now - but eventually we ended up a restaurant nearby that - purely on the name, to whit The Marquis de Salade - Noémi and I had been meaning to visit for ages. It's not a glorified salad bar it is in fact an Azerbaijan restaurant about which good things have been written.

What a disappointment. They didn't have what Dean ordered so without a by-your-leave they substituted something else. The Azerbaijan bread plonked on the table turned out not to be complimentary at all, and my lamb dish was 80% bone and fat. Noémi enjoyed her steak though, but we shan't go there again.

However, Saturday was the day! The day for leading Dean up the garden path. He'd been told to bring old clothes and sturdy boots, but didn't know why. I offered clues. I squeaked; he guessed a visit to the Budapest sewers (I think there are Parisian sewer tours but I don't think I'd want to see Budapest's) Later, I bought a packet of M&M's, put on my best Morpheus shades, and combining The Matrix with a reference to his recent Across India by Auto-Rickshaw expedition under the team name "The Mad Hatter's Tea Party" gave him the old Blue Pill, Red Pill spiel...

You take the blue pill... the story ends. You wake up in bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Anyway, by the time we got "there" he had just about worked out we were going caving. (The clueful squeak had, of course, been the sound of a bat - transposed down a few octaves for the hard of hearing post-teenager... which reminds me... I was sort-of attacked by a bat when I was a teenager, but that's a bit off topic for now...)

So here is the caving news - and some pictures. Group photo first, all (except for one couple for whom there wasn't quite room in one pic) nicely arranged on a little stone bridge. This one was taken near the end of the expedition, and as you can see we are all mellow and, more to the point, not flat, which was nice.

I don't know how far we went because the cave system runs for miles and we only spent a couple of hours underground, but it was most excellent. I had thought (having seen someone else's video of a recent visit) that it was all rather scary - not that I'm claustrophobic, but just as I feel a little bit uncomfortable when a tall building sways - even if it's been standing for years - so I thought I would be preoccupied with the thought of thousands of tons of rock waiting to come down on my head.

As it happened, I wasn't - even when crawling through some very tiny spaces. Our guide for the afternoon - Helga - had by far the best helmet light: a good old fashioned acetylene lamp (a.k.a a Carbide Lamp) fuelled from the grey cylinder in her hands in which water sloshed against the Calcium Carbide to create the acetylene that fuelled the devilish flames with a very satisfying whoosh! when she shook it. They also give a nice light that the little LED lamps we had completely failed to live up to.

Naturally anywhere one could actually stand up was called a "room" and most are named (e.g. "The Library") but, when you don't know how big the cave system is (and this is a big system) you're probably not prepared for the sheer quantity of nouns your need to pack. Consequently, the names quickly become rather prosaic... think "the big room", "the little room", etc. etc. However, we were speleologists for the day (rather than speleolinguists - eh? - well, it exists now) and rather more interested in just being underground and what underground actually looks like. Are there interesting formations, fossils, dwarves, goblins, orcs...?

Interesting formations? Well, nothing truly spectacular but there were two named features - The Ghost (rather more gargoyley than ghosty if you ask me, but no one did), and Winnie the Pooh (see below). There was however also some odd, unnamed flooring (if that's not an odd way of describing a cave floor in itself) that looked rather as though someone had set a load of large round pebbles into a bed of concrete - and a few in situ fossils (fossiliak in Hungarian - had to learn that specially) - all sea-shells. And that about wraps it up for objets of interest, as such.

Here you can see yours truly completely failing to pass through the hole called Winnie the Pooh (because it would be all to easy to get stuck, with or without additional hunny load). I did manage to get my head and both shoulders through with a bit of effort but thought that there was a good chance of getting stuck if I tried to pass my chest through it to... so I retreated gracefully (well, as gracefully as one can with Helmet Hair)

Noémi however fared much better - indeed she passed right through.

Just before we came out we stopped and turned out all the lights. Total darkness is a very rare sight - so I took a picture of it for you. There it is - complete darkness. And it wasn't at all scary - even when we all stopped speaking/sniffing/shuffling and sat in silence too. Though Helga did say that if you sit in the complete darkness for about 45 minutes you start to hallucinate, we didn't stay that long.

So, there you have it.. them... Caves: big holes in the ground that contain varying kinds and quantities of interesting Stuff and a whole lotta dark.