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Facing my Fears – Caving in Budapest

I am petrified of being in confined spaces. Cole knows this, but he still insisted we go caving in Budapest to face my fears. It was a terrible idea.

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Cole caving in Budapest

The idea of caving in Budapest is akin to my kind of hell. And Cole’s dream adventure.

Squeezing through chest tightening gaps 20 meters underground in the pitch black? Silence surrounding you while being covered in dirt? No thanks.

Cole caving in Budapest

I guess being claustrophobic does not really help my case but caving in Budapest was not high on my to do list. So when Cole told me that’s exactly what we were doing. I was petrified.

However, being the stubborn adventurous and competitive person I am, I wanted to overcome my fears. I smiled, nodded and told him I would be fine.

How wrong I was.

Caving in Budapest

I woke up with a deep feeling of dread in my stomach. Breakfast tasted like sandpaper. Coffee did nothing to ease the nerves, and Cole’s excitement and attempts to lighten the mood with terrible jokes about getting trapped were no help at all.

My nerves were rattling more than the ancient bus as we trundled up to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before I knew it we were at the caves and suiting up. With every layer of protective gear I strapped on I felt more and more trapped.

Four Jandals Caving in Budapest

Putting on a brave face for the camera.

I tried to make small talk with the others on the tour but when I told them I was claustrophobic they looked at me like I was insane for coming caving. Maybe I was.

All too suddenly we were at the entrance. I had expected a big opening that would get gradually smaller so I could at least see some light coming in. Wrong again.

It was just a door. A locked door.

As I stepped through the void I started thinking maybe I can handle this.

CRASH!

The guide slammed the heavy door and locked it with a resounding clank that still haunts me in my sleep. To me it was the sound of fear. I was trapped.

Irrational thoughts flooded my mind.

What if I lose the guide and I can not get out because I don’t have a key? What if we need to get out in a hurry and we lose precious seconds while the guide unlocked the door?

As the guide went over the safety talk I gazed blankly into the darkness. I took nothing in. All I could think about was the door and my uncontrollable shaking.

Shaken out of my inner nightmares as everyone begins to move I see the guide is pointing down a 10m ladder into a hole no larger than 1 meter square. “I thought we were already in the caves!” I exclaim. They all laugh as he confirms that is exactly where we are going.

It was the last straw. I had to get out.

Backing away I grab hold of Cole’s sleeve. He has already noticed my anxiousness though and is hurrying me out with the guide close behind.

With every step towards the door my stress levels lowered.

I cannot explain how good it felt to walk out of that cave.

I gulped fresh air as relief, happiness and freedom washed over me.

As quick as it had begun my caving experience was over.

For Cole it was just beginning as he left me with my eBook on the surface 2 hours as soon as I was free! Can’t say I blame him.

Caving in Budapest

Extra Travel Information:

Try caving in Budapest with the awesome guides at Caving Under Budapest.

Fly to Budapest easily from pretty much anywhere in Europe with Jet2.com and we recommend staying at Marco Polo Hostel as they are quiet and have a brilliant breakfast buffer.

This is a post from a series called Facing my Fears. It helps us to step outside our comfort zone, in comfort. Check out the rest of the series here.

Disclaimer: We were invited to step out of our comfort zone by the Visit Hungary Tourism Board for our trip to Budapest. As always our thoughts, recommendations and fears are always our own.

Adela is one half of the New Zealand Adventure Couple who have been travelling since 2009. She loves the outdoors and has a real passion for Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Surfing (apart from being scared of sharks). She loves food and writes all our food posts. Consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Laurence

    September 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    You know, sometimes we just need to say no to things. You totally made the right decision here – I’m actually amazed you made it inside 😉 I can’t imagine how scary that would be if you suffer from claustrophobia!

  2. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    September 7, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Adela, I totally sympathise with you here. I freaked out when I was almost at the top of a mountain (I have a terrible phobia of heights) and had to sit down and wait while my partner and his family made the last bit up to the top. I felt sooooo relieved when I realised that nobody was forcing me to do anything that I didn’t want to do.

    Also I LOVE your facial expression before going in the cave, it is priceless haha!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      Cole hates heights too Tom so at least I have him beaten there haha. I am just lucky he didn’t mind going on without me.

  3. Ele

    September 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Bookmarked both the post and service provider. That’s the Budapest I want to see.

  4. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    September 8, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    We’re proud of you! At least you tried. Caves aren’t my favorite thing in the world either and I’ve never been in one with a locked door which is just extra creepy. Maybe try a doorless cave next time…

  5. Arti

    September 8, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I would have the exact same feelings as you had before you set out on your adventure. The photos are wonderful, give a feeling as if I was down there in the dark space with you!!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      Thanks Arti 🙂 It was lucky Cole continued on so that we could get the photos haha.

  6. bronwen burmester

    September 9, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Great post Adela and neat phtos and I would have been just like you adela, brave Cole….but not me!

  7. Mike

    September 9, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    You don’t look afraid on the pictures. You were really having fun and overcoming your fears. Congratulations to you Cole.

  8. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    September 10, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    I totally get this. I never knew I had a fear of caving until I was deep inside of one! Turns out, I’m claustrophobic! I’ve done some caving since, but I know all that build-up dread. Good on you!

  9. D.J. - The World of Deej

    September 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Totally feel you on this one…I hate the dark and enclosed spaces…You made it further than I would have!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      We can hang out on the surface next time then D.J. 🙂

  10. Suzy

    September 12, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Wow – good for you for even tryng! It looks like Cole had a great time, though. Caving isn’t the first thing I’d think of when I think of Budapest. That’s why travel blogs are so great – always new ideas for traveler! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      We didn’t even know the caves existed until just before we went. Was such a unique experience. It is where all the hot water comes from for the hot baths.

  11. Callie

    September 13, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    That sounds scary! No shame in sticking to the surface 🙂 I hear you – I went with a group to rappel down a waterfall in Ecuador once and backed out once I was all strapped in and literally hanging over the ledge. The guide had to pull me back up as everyone was watching…

    • Cole Burmester

      September 14, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      The rappling sounds awesome (sort of). I might freak out because I hate heights haha.

  12. Ali

    September 15, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Caves are NOT my thing at all. I didn’t realize it until recently, but I don’t like the enclosed spaces and extreme darkness. Doesn’t help that I whacked my head on the stone when I was in there.

    • Adela

      September 15, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Ali I totally know where you are coming from – I can not think of anything worse than enclosed spaces and extreme darkness. Some of us are just not meant for caving

  13. Nat

    September 16, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    I would be exactly the same, I don’t think I could have even gone through the door. Looking at the photos too things certainly did seem to become tight. I notice Cole is wearing a GoPro. Have you managed to edit the video? It would be great to see 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      The video is quite grainy actually. Need to learn a few more editing techniques rather than just using Windows Live Movie maker. We have had ours for a while and do love it. Just need to use it more. Going to check out your review now.

  14. Jemma

    September 17, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Awwww you can totally see the fear in your eyes in that picture! Well done for having the guts to turn back, I think having the guts to do that is commendable. Caving is my worst nightmare too, can’t think of anything worse than being in a tight tunnel like that. Just thinking about it gives me the heebie jeebies, so kudos to you for even suiting up. If my boyfriend suggested it to me I’d tell him to go play in traffic! 🙂

  15. emma@greenglobaltravel

    September 18, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Well done you for trying anyway! A lot of people wouldn’t have done even that much.

  16. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    September 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    I’ve seen the movie The Descent and could never ever do this.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      Haha we luckily didn’t encounter any flesh-eating monsters 🙂

  17. Adrian

    September 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    I would say, This was one of the awesome adventurers you had. I can understand how terrible it was for you but that’s the real taste of life.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      Pushing yourself past your own limits is what makes life so interesting!

  18. Trudy

    October 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Wow. Love your face in that pic. Sounds amazing but I just don’t know if I could do it. You are awesome for trying!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      Adela gave it a good go! The problem was the slamming of the door. But at least she decided to stop at the start and not halfway through when we were crawling on our bellies 🙂

  19. Craig Makepeace

    March 1, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Yeah, this freaks me out! I could never work in an underground mine or anything. Let me see light 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      March 1, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      It was an awesome experience Craig! Well for me, Adela not so much haha.

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Adventure Travel

Your Top Destinations For No-Contact Water Sports

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While it can be hard to stay cooped up inside throughout a beautiful summer, there are plenty of other places you head to for some fun in the sun before colder temperatures set in. The best news? If you’re an American, you don’t have to leave the continental US or mess with self-quarantining.

Lake Tahoe, California

A classic vacation spot, Lake Tahoe has it all for visitors. Great climate, little rain, a background of mountains, and one of the largest, most serene lakes in the US. This makes Tahoe not just a great place for spring break partying, but also for some amount of isolation, or at least a bit of peace and quiet. You can find yourself reflected on the water and reflect upon the world around you while out on the lake. Because of the still waters there, it is also a wonderful place for paddle boarding. In case you are looking for quality gear for water sports, you can look into Gili Sports.

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are another classic vacation destination, especially for anyone who loves water sports. The weather remains mild in North Carolina all year round (with the notable exception of hurricane season), so it makes for an outstanding destination through any season. Kitty Hawk, famous for the Wright Brothers first flight, is an outstanding destination, as well as smaller towns like Currituck. You will find slightly rougher currents out in the Atlantic Ocean. However, paddle boarding is also popular here, as is windsurfing.

New Braunfels, Texas

The city of New Braunfels has a river entirely within its limits, the Comal River. This allows for many water sports activities, with tubing as one of the most popular choices. In these times, tubing is a popular choice, as it is a great activity for families that doesn’t involve a lot of contact with strangers. New Braunfels has a huge German influence, with its largest water park named the Schlitterbahn.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Although there is a city in Florida named Venice, the city of Fort Lauderdale is often referred to confusingly as the “Venice of Florida.” This nickname was won because Fort Lauderdale has nearly as many canals as its famous Italian counterpart. Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of beach coastline, but if you add in all the city’s canals and lakes, that puts it at 300 miles of coastline. Fort Lauderdale is also a magnet for yachts, so you can paddle board or kayak past boats in the harbor you’ve only dreamed of. Summers in South Florida can swelter, but there’s also a reason that old folks go down in the winter.

Seattle, Washington

Although it is a huge metropolis, Seattle also offers some of the most pristine coastline in the country. Although it gets colder in the PNW than it might get anywhere in the southeast, the climate in Seattle stays relatively mild. One advantage of Seattle over more southern spots is its glacial lakes, which offer a beauty that few islands can replicate.

Even as the summer wanes, there are so many places in the continental US that you can get out and enjoy the water.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated and they are cities on our list to visit again once the Coronavirus allows. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy and we want to change that after Coronavirus. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them to learn about while stuck at home due to Coronavirus:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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