Hardly a week goes by without someone asking me for advice on where to eat and what to do in Budapest. Usually it’s friends asking for friends or colleagues with different interests and requirements. In anticipation of a raft of questions coming as the summer holidays approach, I thought I’d spend some time drafting a summary of where I like to eat and what I like to do in Budapest, a list of personal favourites, for what it’s worth.

Fricska Gastropub, Dob u. 56-58, in District VII, is still my favourite upmarket restaurant. The chalkboard menu changes daily and usually offers a choice of four starters, a couple of soups, half-a dozen main courses featuring everything from fish to steak to wild game, and a few tasty desserts. When they run out, they run out. It’s a popular spot, so reservations are recommended and can be made through their website: http://fricska.eu/en/. It’s closed Sunday and Monday.

For Hungarian fare, I like Huszár Étterem, II. János Pál pápa tér 22, in District VIII. They do a particularly good Jókai bableves (bean soup) and an excellent goose with red cabbage. Their trout is worth trying, too. It’s within spitting distance of Keleti train station, which makes it a popular spot with tourists and locals alike, who seem to enjoy the live music offer. It’s often booked out for private parties, so best to check ahead of time to make sure it’s open. And it’s great for large groups. http://huszar-etterem.hu/

Kompót Bisztró, Corvin sétány 1/B, in District VIII, is a favourite for lunch. Their buffet breakfast is popular as is their daily menu (at about €5). It’s a nice place for dinner, too, with terrace seating on the bustling sétány. Corvin sétány is a pedestrian zone boasting myriad cafés, restaurants (including fish, Italian, Indian, sushi, a hummus bar, and one of the best burger joints in the city, Epic burger), a craft beer pub, a casino, and my favourite wine café in the city, Vino és Wonka. They, too, have a chalk menu featuring wines from smaller Hungarian vineyards, a few nice antipasto plates, and some great chocolate.

And while in the Corvin area, there are a couple of interesting museums worth checking. Like the Holocaust Memorial Center, Páva utca, in District IX. If I had to choose between this and the House of Terror on Andrássy, this is the one I’d visit. The museum is linked to the Páva utca synagogue, once the second largest site for Jewish worship in Budapest. It’s closed on Mondays.

Further down, on Dandár utca 1, also in District IX, is the Zwack Unicum Museum, which, to my mind, is one of the best in the city. Exhibits showcase the history of the Zwack family, makers of the famous black liqueur and a video biography of the firm’s history gives a rare insight into how life once was and now is in Hungary. And, as with all good liquor tours, tastings are included. Closed Sundays, tours are available in English. www.zwackunicum.hu. And you can get a combination ticket that includes entry to both this and the Holocaust Memorial Center.

National History Muesum - what to do in Budapest

Back then to District VIII, to the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Ludovika tér 2, which dates to 1802. This is a fascinating place with all sorts of exhibits including a dinosaur park. The interactive games make it all that much more interesting. It’s closed on Tuesdays, by the way. It’s practically next door to Orczy park, Orczy út 1, which is a lovely spot to walk or picnic and has a great kids playground and adventure park. And over the road again, are the ELTE botanical gardens on Illés u. 25, a lovely spot to while away the hours looking at interesting plants and flowers. Open daily.

Further out on this side of the city, at Népliget, is the Planetarium, with its fantastic photo display and tours of the solar system (in English, too). It’s currently under renovation but check to see if it’s open when you get here.

Budapest has plenty to offer in terms of music and exhibitions. One of my favourite venues for live music is Kobuci kert, Fő tér 1, an outdoor venue in District III. Set on a rather lovely square, within walking distance of the Danube, it’s a happening spot that offers ticketed events (from as a little as €5), reasonably priced drinks, and decent grill food. BudapestPark , Soroksári út 60, in District IX, is another rocking spot, as is Barba Negra, Prielle Kornélia u. 4, in District XI. Check their websites for details of what’s on.

Downtown, Akvárium Klub on Erzsébet tér 12, is more central, with lots of outdoors seating. Across the river, Mátyás church, 2 Szentháromság tér, in District I, offers free organ recitals on Sunday evenings at 6pm. It’s a great way to get to see the church without paying the admission fee and while there, you can enjoy a spectacular view the city from the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is breathtaking at night. Lot of churches in the city offer musical events as does the famous Liszt Ferenc Academy on Liszt Ferenc tér

But while you’re over in the Castle district, the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum is worth a visit, at Lovas út 4/C.  It’s a little pricey, but worth the money. The guided tours are excellent. And when it comes to things in rocks, visit the Gellért Hill Cave in District XI which, in its day, has been a chapel, a monastery, and a field hospital for the German Army during WWII. It re-opened as a church in 1989. The self-guided tour (headphones) is available in many languages and well worth the admission. It’s across the road from the famous Gellért baths, high on the list of Budapest spas, but doesn’t come close to my favourite, the Rudas baths, Döbrentei tér 9. They open late (10pm to 4am) on Fridays and Saturdays. Quite the experience.

There is so much to see and do in Budapest that I could go on and on. And perhaps I will. Next time.

 

First published in the Budapest Times 11 June 2018

I find it hard to pass an open door. There’s a curiosity about me that wants to know what’s inside. This was rewarded last week when we ventured into the Customs House, and this week when we stumbled into the Liquor Rooms on Dublin’s Wellington Quay. Night life in Dublin need never be boring.

We’d gone to the Workmans Club to see ReDiViDeR – a two-horns-no-chords contemporary jazz quartet whose founder and drummer, Matthew Jacobson has been billed by the Irish Times as one of Ireland’s most exciting young talents’. And while I’ve no doubt that the four lads have talent oozing out of their pores, I didn’t get it. Judging by the nodding heads and tapping feet in the room, though, I was the only one. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was worth it to see the inside of the building on 10 Wellington Quay, with so many of the original features still in place.

Night life in Dublin workmans club

The Workmans Club bills itself as having:

…a simple mission to provide a space where musicians and independent thinkers can witness their ideas come to life. From down and dirty rock gigs to intimate acoustic performances, comedy nights, book readings, multimedia take overs, themed markets, to diverse indie clubnights, The Workmans Club has become a haven for those who create music and art and those who consume it.

The building itself has been around for more than 160 years and for most of that time, from 1888 to 2003, it housed the Workingmens Club. It’s a mad place. The colours, the wallpaper, the furniture. It’s as close as I’ve seen to a Dublin take on a Budapest-style ruin pub with a nod to stately grandeur.

The whole concept of a working men’s club is a quirky one.

Victorian social reformer and strict teetotaler Henry Solly first launched the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union (CIU) in 1862. His aim was to give the working man an education, middle-class values and, most of all, keep him out of the pub.

Something went wrong and the Clubs attracted boozers of a stellar sort. They were massive in England in the 1970s and 1980s and I remember frequenting a few. Neil Anderson wrote a guide to them, reviewed in the Irish Times and worth a quick read if you’re interested.

Night life in Dublin Liquor Rooms

Next door is the Clarence Hotel – of U2 fame. By the side was a flashy looking door with steps leading down to a cellar and some interesting framed portraits dotting a wallpapered wall. We had to go look. The Liquor Rooms, a sister to the posh Peruke and Periwig over on Dawson Street, is a little gem and home to Burlesque in Dublin (note to self duly made to catch a gig next time I’m in town). Night life in Dublin has it all. It was quiet enough on a Sunday evening to have a good nose around and while the place probably wouldn’t stand up to daylight scrutiny, it does shabby chiq very well. Blessedly, the staff know their cocktails and for a tenner a piece (€10), these miniature works of art were worth the investment. I fell in love with the bathroom, the wall of fireplaces, and the indoor garden. Oh, someone give me a building and a budget…

Night life in Dublin Liquor Rooms

Night life in Dublin Liquor Rooms

Night life in Dublin Liquor Rooms

Let’s just wander, I said. And see where we end up. We were headed to the IFC in Dublin’s docklands, down by the Customs House, to see the 140th annual exhibition by artists of the Dublin Painting and Sketching Club.* Way back in October of 1874, a group of artists got together to start the club, one of whom was Bram Stoker, perhaps better known as the creator of Dracula. This year’s exhibition has the River Liffey as its celebratory theme and features work by both members and invited guests. The catalogue is impressive and just a week into the exhibition, quite a number of the works have sold. I found myself wishing I had €3000 to purchase a painting of Achill Island by John Kirwan and a way to get it to Hungary. It is absolutely stunning. A painting I could lose myself  in, over and over again. I have a week to figure out the logistics.

John Kirwan painting of Achill

M’s choice, Bluebell Meadow, by Vincent Smith, had already sold.

Bluebell Meadow, by Vincent Smith

Heading up the Quays, we passed the Customs House and saw a sign pointing to a Visitor Centre that neither of us had known was there. Admission was free and we had time, so we went inside. This neo-classical stunner was completed in 1791 with a bill of £200 000 (equivalent to about €40 million today). Said to the jewel of James Gandon’s portfolio, it is an iconic part of the Dublin skyline.

During the Irish War of Independence in 1921, it was burned down. I was a little shocked to hear that Michael Collins had given the order. The first round of restoration was completed by 1928 and the second by the bi-centenary in 1991. The part that houses the Visitor Centre is apparently the only original part left.

The exhibition is in four parts:

  • Met Éireann’s ‘weather-themed’ room looks at the development of scientific meteorology in Ireland with a special focus on the weather of Easter Week 1916 and the weather on 25 May 1921, when the Custom House was attacked.  It highlights the unfailing commitment of weather observers who took daily weather readings, sometimes against all odds.
  • The Custom House and 1916, including the story of some Local Government staff dismissed for participating in the Rising, Bureau of Military History statements of prisoners in the Custom House after the Rising, and activity in the area of the Custom house during the Rising.
  • Gandon, telling the story of the architect James Gandon and the construction of the Custom House.
  • The Custom House Fire 1921, covering the events of 25 May 1921 and the subsequent restoration.

Aerial view of the Customs House

It’s an imposing building with much to note and a classic example of why we should look up more. I’d never noticed the Irish harps beside the English roses, or the very Indian-looking bull face on top of the pillars.

Customs House Pillars

I don’t know much about architects or architecture, but Gandon seems to have taken a delight in this one. And then I read that this was a game played by architects of the time – creating different shaped spaces for people to wander through. How very, very different from the functional stuff we see today.

Customs House Visitor Centre

Having watched the documentaries and read our way through the exhibit, we wandered towards the Irish Life Mall, passing for the millionth time the statue of James Connolly. But this time, we were walking. And we stopped. And saw the Talking Statues logo that gave us a link to tap into our phones to hear the story of Connolly and the part he played in Irish history. Written and narrated by Brendan O’Carroll (of Mrs Brown fame), it taught us stuff we didn’t know and reminded us of stuff we’d long forgotten.

James Connolly statue by the Customs House

Next time I’m in town, I want to find the statue of Joyce to hear what Roddy Doyle wrote about the man, as told by Gabriel Byrne.

I was born in Dublin. I love the city. And I love the fact that even now, I’m still learning about it.

 

*PS The art exhibition is on at CHQ, in the IFSC, in Dublin city centre from April 15 to 29, 2018. Admission free.

Visitors to Dublin can get caught up in the tide of tourists that flows around the hot spots like Trinity College and its Book of Kells. They dip in and dip out of the tidal pools neatly mapped on the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. They sip their way through the Guinness Hop Store and the various distilleries around the city each selling a liquid taste of Irishness.  And yes, there’s plenty to do, and even more to see. But there’s another side of Dublin, the backstreets, the ‘burbs, the lived-in places like Dublin 7 that are more than worth a wander.

Heading to the fab Slice of Cake for breakfast on Sunday morning (56 Manor Pl, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7), I went for a wander and found myself oohing and aahing like a love-struck tourist. There are some amazing buildings in the ‘hood and as I engaged in fantasies of winning the EuroMillions and buying a terraced cottage around the corner from Lucky Lane, I realised that neighbourhoods like these are gems just waiting to be discovered.

Terraced houses in Dublin 7

Cafés, bars, and restaurants line the streets while terraced houses speak to generations past who must be turning in their graves at the thoughts of the €300 000+ their 50-60 sqm former homes are commanding. These two-bedroom terraced houses ain’t cheap. But they have everything on their doorstep.

Stanhope Street school Dublin 7

Once a home for orphan girls, the Stanhope Street House of Refuge is now St Joseph’s School  for Girls. Dating back to the early 1800s, the gardens of the building have been likened to an oasis in the heart of the city. The 1970s monstrosity that extended the school leaves me wondering where the planners were that week, but perhaps the mix of styles simply reflects the student mix – 40% are of international orgin – and indeed that of the city in general.

Manor Street Dublin 7

I was more than intrigued by a banner calling for equality for all pollinators. On further investigation, it turns out that Bí URBAN has a master plan to

…create a green corridor that will connect the Botanic Gardens with the Liffey in Dublin 7, providing an amenity for the public and a living laboratory where DIT [Dublin Institute of Technology] can study the importance of nature in the urban environment.

What’s not to like?

Blackhall Place Dublin 7Closer to the River Liffey sits the magnificent building that is Blackhall Place, HQ of the Law Society of Ireland. For about 200 years, up till 1968, this was home to

a charitable school for boys of poor families […] called the Hospital and Free School of King Charles II, Dublin. It became known as the King’s Hospital or Blue Coat School because of the boys’ military-style blue uniform.

Carmichael House Dublin 7

Over on North Brunswick Street, also in Dublin 7, I stopped outside Carmichael House. From this impressive building, once the Doctors’ residence for the nearby Richmond Hospital, 48 charities operate. From Alcohol Action Ireland to Young Horizons and everything in between, the centre has been in operation since 2011.

Carmichael Centre KnowledgeNET brings together a full spectrum of management and governance knowledge needed to run Irish Not For Profit organisations.

What a resource.

Richmond Hospital Dublin 7

Photo: S Jacobs

But my vote for the day went the old Richmond Hospital itself. This stunningly gorgeous building was on the market in 2013 for €3.5 million. I didn’t have the money then, and I don’t have the money now, but wow …. what a place to live.  Back when it first opened as a hospital in 1901 (for the 100 years before that it had been a convent), there was one window for each bed. When the hospital closed, five of the Dublin courts moved in and operated from here until 2011. Some nasty rumours are going around that it might end up as a casino!

Richmond Hospital Dublin 7

Lisa Cassidy posted this 6 years ago on BuiltDublin.com:

I’m drawn to it by the roofline, the copper roofs tapering to a stack of ornaments, the little finials on the gables of each wing, the curves of the ridge line on the pitched roofs and the chimneys popping up throughout. The double loggias (covered galleries open to air on one side) on the ward blocks seem like useful facilities, outside without being outside, and covered outdoor spaces are to be welcomed in this climate. It’s a big, striking, formal building, and I would love very much to see the interior.

Me, too. I’d love to get a look inside. This is the sort of touristy thing I like to do. Wander and wonder.

Back on New Year’s day, we made an attempt to check out the ruins of an old church on the outskirts of the village of Zalavár, not far from the site of an old Benedictine Abbey. But the fields were wet and we hadn’t brought the wellies. Last week, more suitably attired, we made a second attempt. And this time, succeeded.

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

There’s something very therapeutic about sloshing through puddles in wellies. It was cold. Very cold. But nothing had iced over. It was just wet. Very wet. What would appear to be the makings of a natural tree tunnel marked our way. The trees, bare in winter, will be quite something to see when they’re leafed up and budding. I had thought there was a fancier word for a tree tunnel but it escapes me. In googling it, though, I found mention of a famous one in Northern Ireland that features in Game of Thrones.  Who knew!

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

It was all a little enchanted-forest like. At around 4pm, the light was failing but the sun was hanging on for dear life. The silence was loud enough to lose a whisper. And the place had a sense of holiness going on that might well have been a figment of my imagination but nonetheless real. At the end of the tunnel stands a cross – a basic wooden post and steel crossbar. To say I was disappointed doesn’t even come close. This was it? This was all there was to see?

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

That the sign at the base of the cross was translated into German and not English is testament to the connection Zala county, and Zalavár, has with Germany. More often than not, when hearing my pathetic attempt at speaking Hungarian, the locals figure out that I’m a foreigner and launch in to German. It’s their second language. I had enough Hungarian to get that the original church dates back to 840 AD and on that same site, another basilica was built in the sixteenth century. But what? Where?

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

I turned right and there it was. As usual when confronted with old ruins of times gone by, I’m gobsmacked that they’ve survived. Further research tells me that the church itself was built on the remains of a burned-out Slavic settlement and that’s what dates back to 840 Zalavár. And in total, three churches were built at various times. And, apparently, that last one is similar in shape to temples built on the coasts of North Africa or Italy – depending on what you read 🙂 I was quite taken by what looked for all the world like a big stone barrel laying on its side.

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

We had our three wishes – a church is a church is a church when it comes to the three wishes for a first-time visit rule – and stood for a while in silent contemplation. Discovered back in the 1940s, it really is a lovely spot. Zalavár and its surrounds are rich in history; back in their heyday they must have been quite the hub of activity. With renewed government focus on the Kis-Balaton (as evidenced by the tourist banners and ads in the airport arrivals) perhaps the church will see more by way of visitors this summer.

If you’re visiting Hungary, remember, there’s far more to the country that just Budapest.

Zalavár Récéskút bazilika

 
 

 

Keszthely

The Balaton (aka the Hungarian Sea) is a tale of two lakes. The summer version sees the 592 km² body of water full of sailboats and bathing beauties. Its strands are full to capacity as locals and tourists bake themselves to a crisp as the smell of lángos and the pisztráng competes with Ambre Solaire. Keszthely, the largest city on the shore, sitting as it does on the lake’s westernmost tip is no exception. It heaves and burps tourists of all sorts, lots of them local. Keszthely has three strands: the Városi and Helikon strands near the ferry pier and the Libás strand further to the northeast. Even though planned to accommodate 1900 people, which would give sunbathers at Helikon Strand 10 sqm of space each, I have my doubts. Balaton strands at the height of summer view from above are like postage-stamp albums.

But in February, when the temperature hovers at about 2 degrees and the sun peaks out intermittently to check that all is well, it’s a different story. A much nicer story.

Keszthely strand

Keszthely strand

Two magnificent buildings sit facing the water at the between the Városi and the Helikon strands, one clinging vainly to its glory days  and the other looking all the better for its decrepitude. My thoughts immediately went to renovation and I made quick note to buy a lotto ticket. What I wouldn’t give to own such a place and to have the wherewithal to do it justice.

The water was smooth enough and the birds were plentiful. The swans were out in all their glory and some silly humans with a suicide wish were throwing bread at them. I didn’t stay around long enough to see what would happen when the bread ran out. Swans aren’t known for their placidness. And I’m sure I’ve seen signs urging people NOT to feed the birds. [I’m still carrying the emotional scars of a seagull attack in St Ives a few years back and I blame some well-intentioned tourist for their forwardness.]

Keszthely strand swans

Keszthely strand swans

Keszthely strand

Keszthely strand

The Varósi strand bathhouse (szigetfürdő, or Island Bath), with its decorative entrance, dates to the late 1800s. I had little trouble conjuring up images of old geezers tipping their hats to parasolled ladies, of wives strolling arm in arm with their husbands, of nannies pushing heir-laden prams. It’s all rather period-like.

Off to the left, a pier leads out to the ferry terminal where the Kisfaludy steamboat first arrived in 1846, heralding the birth of boat traffic on the lake. Until it retired in 1887, the boat would ferry prisoners of war, aristocrats, and salt across the Balaton. A heady mixture. In 2015, a replica of the original Kisfaludy took to the waters, this time as a floating museum that includes an  exhibition of nineteenth-century boating and a library. Today, ferries run from May connection the city with Balatongyörök, Szigliget, and Badacsony on the lake’s north shore, and Balatonmáriafürdő, Fonyód, Balatonboglár, and Balatonlelle on the south shore. Fishing season opens at the end of March and by then, the pier will be lined with rods and reels and anglers who live in hope of catching something other than hayfever or a cold.

Keszthely strand

Keszthely strand

Poised at the edge of the lake is a life-sized statue of Csik Ferenc, journalist, doctor, and Olympian, winner of two medals (gold medal in the 100 m freestyle event and bronze  in the 4×200 m freestyle relay) in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Remember the one where Jesse Owens gave Hitler something to think about?) Csik died during WWII, aged 31. A short but glorious life – a little like the calm that descends on the Balaton in winter/spring.

 

 

Kefa-Kafe Naxxar Malta

When time is limited and coffee is a must, it pays to spend the time finding that one place that delivers it all. Sometimes it’s pure luck. Sometimes it’s on the recommendation of a friend. Kefa-Kafe in Naxxar doesn’t need to advertise. Malta is a small island. Word gets around. Those serious about their coffee make the journey and spread the word. Read more

We dream of islands in the sun. Exotic places where we can get away from it all. We spend hundreds if not thousands of whatevers getting there and then come home full of the experience. Too often, we forget that just down the road there might be somewhere just as interesting, somewhere that offers an opportunity to explore, to get away from it all, but because it’s so near, we don’t consider it travel. Travel seems to be measured by a physical distance rather than a metaphorical one, even if just ten minutes from home a whole new world awaits. Kányavári sziget is just an example.

I have a fondness for islands. For water. For bridges. And for quiet. And were I to ask any of you for your recommendation, that one place that has all that and more, I’d be reading for a week. There are myriad places around the world that would fit the bill but I’m fortunate to have all that and more within walking distance. Practically at the end of the garden.

Hungary is known for the Balaton, the Hungarian sea, the massive lake that is choc-a-bloc in the summer with Hungarians on holiday and tourists on vacation. And in the winter, it’s quiet. And it has water. But I’m not talking about the Balaton. I’m talking about the Kis-Balaton (the little Balaton), even farther to the south-west. It has its own island, Kányavári sziget and its own bridge.

Kányvári sziget

Wooden bridge on Kányvári sziget

Part of me is reluctant to do anything that might put this place on the tourist map but that’s me being selfish. It’s a gorgeous spot that I’ve written about many times. We went down there this evening, for a walk, to catch the sunset. We passed two couples fishing and a couple of lads trying their luck. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone catch anything, but it’s certainly not for want of trying. Perhaps though it’s the fishing that’s important, not the catching. We passed another couple out walking their dog and then two other friends scuffing through the leaves. It was quiet and peaceful, the only noise coming from the ducks and the geese.

Kányavári sziget sunset kis-balaton

viewing tower on Kányavári sziget

We climbed the 44 steps to the top of the tower and watched the sun go down. Beautiful. Peaceful. Rejuvenating. And it’s only down the road. Perhaps 2018 might be the year to go local, to explore more of Zala megye and the surrounding counties.

Sunset on kis-balaton Kányavári sziget

Dubrovnik is a city in Croatia. Dobrovnik is a village in Slovenia. Both have their attractions but Dobrovnik is really special. Magical even.

I don’t think I’ll ever grow up. Not really. I might get a little more responsible, a little more sensible, a little more pragmatic, but at heart, I’ll still be that gullible kid who believes in magic, in fairies, in ghosts. I needed very little persuading when the lovely GZs suggested a trip across the border into Slovenia to Bukovniško lake and its magic forest that sit outside the village of Dobrovnik. Not too clear about what to expect herself, she sold me on the idea of healing energy and curing waters.

Back in 2001, Dr Ilija Čosić (who, as far as I can tell, is a writer/professor from Novi Sad in Serbia) visited the lake and mapped the bioenergy and radiesthesy. [I had to check that one out: Radiesthesia is the science of using the vibrational fields of the human body to access information about other objects of animate or inanimate nature by establishing resonance with their energy fields, using specially calibrated instruments and a scale of qualitative measurement to decode this information.] He and his team of experts found more than 50 energy points clustered around two power lines that cross right where the church of St Vida (St Vitus) sits in the middle of the forest in Slovenia.

They focused on 26 energy points that are clearly marked for specific ailments. Stand or sit at any of these points, arms relaxed, palms facing the ground, and you will feel the energy manifested as a warm, tingling sensation or a cool breeze. And if you don’t feel anything, then that particular spot is not for you.

I looked at the list of 26 energy points and made my selection. I didn’t want a conveyor belt experience. I wanted to treat the specifics. I stopped first at No. 2 – just because stress is nasty. It was pleasant, but more because I was out in the forest rather than feeling any surge of energy. So, nothing I can’t manage myself, I thought. I stopped at No. 9 because I have cholesterol issues but I didn’t feel much by way of anything. I can stop worrying about that then. Next I went to No. 15, the rheumatism and arthritis spot and after a few minutes in situ, my palms started to tingle and heat up. Damn, I thought, that pain I’ve been feeling is real. I then stopped at No. 24 – limb pain and muscle inflammation) – same thing. The full list is quite something and I’m sure something has gotten lost in translation.

1: Gallstones and kidney stones

2: Mental, emotional, stressful, depressive problems

3: General back pain

4: Leg ulcer diseases (arteries)

5: Small and large intestinal diseases, including hemorrhoids

6: Headaches, dizziness, vertigo

7: Respiratory diseases (trachea, lung inflammation)

8: Migraine problems and tension in the head

9: Diabetes, cholesterol, liver, pancreas, spleen

10: Skin diseases (inflammation, acne and psoriasis (psoriasis) [the recommended retention time on it is 30 minutes]

11: Strengthening the immune system

12: Vascular diseases (venous vessels) and varicose veins and knots

13: Chest problems, pleurisy

14: Cardiac vessels

15: Rheumatic diseases (rheumatism, arthritis)

16: Gastric, duodenal and colorectal inflammation (acid, ulcer)

17: Alcohol, tobacco, and drug addiction

18: Urinary system, prostate and fertility (inflammatory diseases)

19: Blood pressure

20: Eyes, ears and nose (inflammation), partly also of allergies

21: Gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea and constipation, abdominal cramps and tension)

22: Respiratory allergies – bronchitis

23: Malignant or benign tumors

24: Limb pain (muscle inflammation and osteoporosis)

25: Strengthen and improve the blood count

26: Enhance life energy and increase frequency cell vibrations

The church of St Vida, at the centre of the energy lines, is like something out of a fairy tale. Back in WWII, there was a wooden structure on the site. During a battle not far from the chapel, one partisan managed to escape (they were hiding out in a local hunting lodge). Badly wounded, he crawled to his sanctuary. It was open then (unlike today). He didn’t expect to make it through the night but when he woke the next morning, all was well. Legend has it that he came back after the war and built the structure we see today.

St Vida's chapel Dobrovnik Slovenia

Bukovniško St Vita's chapel

Not far from the church is the spring of St Vida. Bathing your eyes in the healing waters is said to improve your eyesight, and indeed local lore has it that many have been cured. Washing your hands and face can improve your skin. And drinking it is recommended to calm anxious nerves. GZs had done her homework so we’d brought empty bottles. But had we not, the information office has water cans for sale (when they’re open).

The lake itself is man made, and is about 2 metres deep. There’s a trail around it and a couple of picnic spots, too. It’s stocked with fish and fishing licences are available for purchase.

Bukovniško lake SLovenia

Bukovniško lake Slovenia

Bukovniško lake Slovenia

As with anything good these days, there’s a caveat. A sort of disclaimer that says that one visit won’t do it. You need to come back a number of times within a short period. Not that I need much of an excuse to visit Slovenia. This weekend marks the beginning of a long-promised break, a chilling out period, time spent reflecting, reading, and writing. And if I can fit in a couple of more trips across the border to Slovenia – I’ll be even more grateful for the joys of village life and the access to other worlds that living so remotely affords.

Adrenaline park Dobrovnik Slovenia

 

PS There’s also quite a spectacular adrenaline park just at the entrance, one of the best I’ve seen. It would take about 2 hour to get around it and is suitable for ages 4 upwards.

 

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Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty

I was baptised into the Catholic Church. And for the large part of my adult life (when I got to choose whether or not to go to mass) I’ve been a regular Sunday mass-goer with the occasional mid-week celebration thrown in for good measure. I had a couple of years where I didn’t go. I was living in Alaska at the time, so perhaps it was a combination of simply not bothering and not having a regular priest that put paid to my religious attendance – I can’t remember. Read more