As the last few days have been a triumph of sunshine, we decided to take advantage of this lovely and unhoped for (though strongly desired) hint of spring (it has been so grey, cloudy and rainy this month!) to explore the part of the Mecsek mountains which are closer to Pécs.

Hungary is essentially a huge plain, centuries of literature celebrate their puszta, but it has no “real” mountains. I grew up between the Dolomites and the Pianura Padana, so I think I can tell the difference between them. People in Pécs are proud of their Mecsek, and indeed they should as it is a beautiful area. However, they are definitely not mountains, at least for our standards (the point is, you don’t need to be an expert climber if you want to get there!).

Hiking in the Mecsek is therefore very pleasant, I’m not saying it’s effortless but it’s easy and opened to anybody, from children to old people (not to mention all those jogging addicts…so many of them! Seriously, why people RUN in the mountains? O__O). You can choose between several trails that will lead you to discover the most charming attractions of the Baranya county. The area is so vast (500 km²) that you might want to cover some of the path by bus (hiking to Orfu and back may be a little demanding). We went for the “easy trail” and walked up to the top of the Misina mountain, where the highest building in Hungary, Pécs TV tower, lays. Apparently, it’s a popular spot for Sundays family pic-nics: the area around the tower is equipped with everything you need for a BBQ and you can even have lunch in the fancy restaurant at the top of tower.

Our only advice: be careful of the mountain markers!

We started off from Pécs, and from the Paulite church we followed the trail marked with a yellow triangle, which leads directly up to the TV tower. The old ruins of the aqueduct (it seems quite ancient but it was actually built around the beginning of the 20th century) is the “official” entrance to the Mecsek park.

Reaching the Misina is easy (1 hour and a half and you get to the top), more difficult is going back. Despite our eagle’s eye, we weren’t able to find the yellow triangles anymore. So we decided that we would just pick something else in yellow (as if the fact that it was yellow would have been enough!). The yellow square made us discover the most beautiful part of the Misina, a solitary sun-dipped forest with meadows of snowdrops! It was incredibly poetic! Moreover, it felt as if spring was really coming (she was joking, the day after it was raining again!) and it was such a happy feeling (everything that can make me forget about my dissertation is to be cherished!).

Unfortunately, the snowdrops forest then became a sort of thick birch wood, the yellow squares turned into yellow circles through slippery and muddy slopes, then it was the turn of the Poland flag to lead us in the beautiful middle of nothing, from which we could only see a huge, white squared tower popping out of the wood not too distant from where we were, and then we were able to finally spot a human being carrying what looked like a heavy tank of water, who kindly (and with many gestures and few incomprehensible Hungarian words) put us back in the right track which, this time, was a green cross.

Now that I think about it, I take back what I said earlier. Hiking the Mecsek is very nice and doesn’t require any unbearable physical effort, UNLESS you get lost and keep following random signs as we did (not our fault if they made the signs vanish and every time you would turn there was a different one). It took us more than four hours, and some pain in the legs, to reach home. Just in time for the sunset!

On our way back we walk as far as Dömörkapu, a scrap of land where there’s an amusement park and also one of the most useless thing i’ve ever seen: a quite wrecked and shaking little train, starting from the little platform in Dömörkapu, and stopping not far from there, leaving people in the middle of nothing…

Hiking back we also came across the famous Hungarian camels and emu that inhabit the Mecsek mountains. No kidding, the city of Pécs has built the city zoo in a small scrap of rocks! And why not? If life gives you lemon, you make a lemonade, if life gives you rock…you build a zoo! My asinity aside (I so wanted to use “asinity” today, and it didn’t really fit in my dissertation), the zoo is funny, and, quite surprisingly for me, a part from groups of families, there were also couples! This is the first time that I see/hear about couple choosing to go on a date to the zoo (Manga and Anime aside).

And with my “not-so-useful” observations about couples and zoos and vanishing mountain markers, I end this post. Next time more news on Pécs!