On Places

Bukk National Park

For at least 100 million Poles, Hungarians and Ukranians the word buk, bukk, or бук means beech, as in fagus sylvatica, the European beech tree. There may be other languages with the same or a cognate word referring to the beech tree but I’m not familiar with them. It is a word known to readers of Michener’s Poland featuring people named Buk and Bukowski from the village of Bukovo. And you might have read the inimitable Charles Bukowski, drunk, factotum, poet and novelist of the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles from the 40’s until his death in 1994.

For me, no bukk is dearer than the Bukki Nemzeti Park, the eponymous national park, the heart of which is about 170 kilometers northeast of downtown Budapest, Hungary. Sandwiched between the small but memorable cities of Eger and Miskolc about 40 kilometers still further northeast, the park contains over 800 caves, mountains, streams, forests, and fascinating villages. Spread throughout are traditional inns, guesthouses and restaurants. This is a world where little English is spoken but I didn’t find that to be a serious impediment to enjoying the area. The Lippizaner horse museum is in Szilvasvarad along with the stables where these much loved and unusual animals are kept, pampered and trained. What I discovered in the park turned it into one of the most enjoyable days I have ever spent in Europe. Continue reading “On Places”