Up hill and down vale. Sliding forward on the sides of my feet trying to stay upright. Hurtling down the steep slopes and breaking my fall by running into trees. As ungainly as you could imagine and far from my idea of fun. So why then, as October 30 dawned earlier than usual thanks to daylight savings, did I roust myself from peaceful slumber head to the Pilis hills?
Ever since I first heard of Dobogókő (pulsating stone), I’ve wanted to touch it. In my innocence, I thought it would be well signposted and within relatively easy reach of civilisation. But until the rock’s force is proven scientifically, the local mayor of Pilisszentkereszt apparently has no intention of adding signs and notices showing us the way. There are tens of paths clearly marked, lots of trails, plenty of car parking, and the world and her mother were out for the day – but a little like the chakra site I visited in Wavel Cathedral in Krakow, you needed a sixth sense to get you there (or someone in the know).
Apparently, there are energy lines that create invisible energy nets around the world. Now imagine the intersections of these lines to be the Earth’s acupuncture points. Just as we humans have acupuncture points, so, too, does Mother Earth. Where many lines cross, we have sacred places like Stonehenge and Machu Picchu. But just 30 miles from Budapest, in the Pilis hills, lie the greatest number of intersecting lines, which, according to those in the know, is where the heart chakra of the world is. And to make it even more interesting, if you fly over this area, you will see the Danube’s tributaries weave their heart-shaped way around the Pilis hills. And, in the very centre of this two square kilometres is the heart stone – the pulsating rock – Dobogókő. Well, actually, that’s the name of the area. The rock itself is called Ferenczy sziklá (anyone know why?)
The inimitable MI asked directions from this woman who looked liked she was in the know. Follow the yellow trail until you get to what looks like a temple rock and then go down, left. Keep on going. Nothing is signposted. We got to what MI thought was a temple rock (I’d obviously forgotten to pack my imagination) and we started going down. And down. And down. We happened across a couple coming up and asked again. Keep on going down until you find the road and the electricity poles (No! Say it’s not true! Not in my forest! And that, believe me, is the limit to my possessiveness.) And a church that isn’t a church but part of the water supply administration. And then you should see a székelykapu (carved Transylvanian gate). And then go up until you find the rock. Nothing is signposted. So down, and down, and down we went, farther and farther from any other voices or human contact. No bread to leave a trail. No water in case we got really lost. No way to know exactly where we were. But at some stage I had a text welcoming me to Slovakia.
Absolutely beautiful scenery – and in between moments of blind panic, I managed to stop for a breather and appreciate it. For someone who took forever to get us out of Budapest earlier that morning (I drive, I don’t navigate), MI had discovered an inner navigational eye. When gentle hints that we might be lost and getting even more lost fell on deaf ears, I realised I had two choices – go back on my own, or follow. I followed. Eventually we hit the road. So, right or left? You know me and decisions… had it been up to me, we’d still be there. We went left. And we found the church-like water building. And then we came across a lone woman with two bicycles (?) She was perched on a pile of freshly cut logs reading a book. Unasked, she pointed us right. And we found the gate. And then sometime later, after what seemed like hours of looking at the heels of MI’s hiking boots, we were up on the rock.
About eight other hikers (hey, I can call myself that – I have the boots!) were gathered around admiring the view over the painted rock and congratulating themselves for having found the place. Not quite what I’d planned. Down to the left a little was the rock we’d actually come to see. I’d banked on 10 minutes of quiet meditation and some infusion of heart energy. Anything, actually, that might help my chakras align and send out the right message to the universe that I’m getting fed up waiting for himself to show up. So off we went. As we rounded the corner, we heard voices. Three men. One sitting crosslegged, eyes closed, fingers in meditative position, apparently experienced enough to be able to drown out the monologue the ould fellah was carrying on about the virtues of home brewing. Definitely not part of the plan. Our orator showed no sign of moving and his audience of one, the Third Man, seemed settled in for the long haul. There was no way I was going to get my 10 minutes alone with the pulse any time soon. I settled for a few seconds of quiet communing between yer man’s paragraphs – touched the rock for a minute (I must have caught it between heartbeats) – and then turned to face home.
So I’ve done it. I’ve been to the heart chakra of the world. The journey through the Pilis hills was gobsmackingly gorgeous. The villages, like Pilisszentlélek (Pilis Holy Spirit), belong on chocolate boxes. Stopping for some friss pisztráng in Dunabogdány on the way back, capped it all off. It is days like today that make everything else worthwhile and remind me that life in my world is never boring. (And has life changed? Has it ever! I only had to drive around the block three times before a parking space opened up – and, wait for it, it was the closest to my front door. I’m booking the band tomorrow!)