Lelle’s Eurotrip – 2016 Part II (Hungary)

And so the journey continues! The Viking team gathered, sights are set due south for central Europe, Budapest Hungary to be exact. After returning from the Mumin Valley in Finland, this adventure also originates from the center of universe, Malmö Sweden.

First leg of the trip involved a ferry crossing, by far not as adventurous as the ferry to Finland and for sure not equally as long at only 6 hours. Enough time for a dinner and copious amounts of coffee while chitchatting with high hopes of the upcoming diving in Molnar Janos cave.

The Ferry arrived in Sassnitz Germany at around 22:00 the same evening. Fueled up on coffee we decide to take the manly and only approach to the journey, stretch driving more or less straight south. Of course the driving involves a few short stops here and there. I mean what would driving around in Europe be without the occasional curry wurst and coffee stop…!? Traveling through Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and finally crossing over to Hungary we arrived in Budapest around noon the following day. The sun was shining, airtemp sat between 25-30 degrees,  and it was awesome to be back in the city! It was an easy and smooth drive to the hotel, which by the way was literally a stone throw away from the cave. With diving scheduled to start the following day we got installed at the hotel and took a stroll down the street to look at the cave entrance.

Now, I’ve been in Budapest several times, and I’ve been walking on this street numerous times before, always looking thru the Plexiglas at the small lake outside of the cave with a humongous craving for diving this cave, finally the time had come! Rounding off the first evening with elephant ear sized schnitzels we were set for some well deserved sleep.

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Waking up the following morning, the expectations alone could probably move mountains, at last, time for some city cave diving! So if it’s not been clear enough or if you don’t know about the this location, this cave sits in the middle of Budapest city, right next to the Duna river, literally you are swimming around underneath the city center.

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There is a great parking just inside the gate next to the small lake. In terms of logistics the guys running this place has hit the home run. Big parking, wheelbarrows to haul equipment inside the cave, with a nice paved stretch leading up to the water part of the cave. Once inside there are super solid equipment storage with everything you could possibly wish for. A long stretch of metal benches for holding all the doubles and CCR’s in perfect height for getting dressed. A mega large map of the entire cave system giving you a perfect opportunity to plan each dive in detail, at the moment there is 7km of explored cave passage, and the most important thing, the possibility to make coffee!

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A few steps of stairs led down to the water surface which ended in a solid metal platform. In the middle of the small “lake” inside the mountain there is a buoy which went strait down to the permanent line and eventually the cave entrance.

Also situated in the lake, was nice rectangular permanent deco station placed at 6M. Perfect place to stage the O2. You can probably imagine the fuzzy feeling after coming from the chilly Mumin Valley, to jump into water at a temperature of 28 degrees (First 10M’s are at 28 and then it “drops” to 21 degrees below 10M. So, once again spoiled by water temp).

Time to get cracking then.

After a solid run-through and detailed briefing, it was time for the first dive. Slowly descending down the warm layer of water, starting to follow the permanent guideline I was suddenly once again struck by the thought of swimming underneath the busy city life going on just above our heads. Molnar Janos is a Limestone cave with fairly large passages in comparison to a lot of other places I’ve visited and dived.

Using doubles for backgas and multiple stages was not in any means a problem to navigate through the cave. I would also call this a very scooter friendly cave. We were surrounded by beautiful crystal and limestone formations, some rooms we entered were humongous, some passages slightly smaller, but never “tight”. If you went off the “beaten track” for sure you can find some tightish spots as well, but in general, it’s big.

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In terms of logistics and diving everything had been made to really accommodate cave divers! And the diving itself is amazing. The beauty of diving in a capital city in central Europe is of course you’ll have the entire city at your disposal when you are not diving. One thing you can find a lot of here is truly amazing food! Of course every restaurant each evening was carefully selected and thought thru, like I said, I’ve spent some time in this city before, know my way around.

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After 3 great days of diving the time had come to load our cars and change location again, sights set for Slovakia. I really have to complement the guys at Molnar Janos for excellent service, superb logistics and a super solid and smooth setup! Your plans for the future will only make things even better so keep up the awesome work!

According to the super all mighty Google maps (ppfffffff), the journey between Budapest and our Slovakian destination was only supposed to be a 3ish hour drive. So why not take the opportunity to stuff our belly’s full of proper Hungarian langos and make some traditional selfies like every other tourist does?? … Hey, I mean we have time, it’s only early afternoon, and it’s only a 3 hour drive right?

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Just going to throw this out there so you have something to think about before reading Part III of this trilogy. Do you think Google maps has any clue to time management in terms of distance??? Well, I’m gonna sit on that answer for a while, give you some time to reflect, haha.

 

Divers:

Lelle, Henric K, Aron, Henrik F & Tomas

 

To be continued…     

October 1, 2016   No Comments

Lelle’s Eurotrip – 2016 Part I (Finland)

Living in beautiful Tulum is a great thing. Having the closeness to all the caves and the Mexican way of life is awesome! But going back to the roots from time to time is equally awesome. This summer I headed back to Europe for some super nice cave and mine diving. This was not only some stunning diving but allowed me to dive something new and different from the diving I have been recently doing.  It’s important for me to keep the diversity in my own diving on a high level, as it adds to what I can bring back to share with my students and colleagues from an instructional and experience point of view.

Malmö, a southern town of Sweden is basecamp and ground zero, and center of the universe for all of you that did not already know. My journey started here with packing the car before making the 1102km (one way) trip to Lohja and Ojamo mine in Finland. Every time it’s time to do some traveling  you are always faced with the same fact, LOGISTICS… When you decide to make the journey by driving a car you think you are on the safe side and always stack a massive pile of stuff to bring, thinking there is lots of room in the car. And like a letter in the mailbox you are always faced with the same outcome, you need a larger vehicle, you can never ever have ENOUGH room…

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Well, after a few hours of  logistical magic it was time to head off! Now this trip involves a ferry crossing from Sweden to Finland, where you catch the ferry from Stockholm to Åbo during nighttime. This crossing alone could have probably been an article by itself , however let’s not go there this time!

So, once setting foot on Finnish soil very early in the following morning, arriving to a very sleepy town of Åbo, there was not a single person in sight in any direction. So with sleepy eyes disembarking from the ferry, what better way is there to wake up to some hardcore Finnish heavy metal music that is playing on the radio. And the singing which you can occasionally hear between all the screaming is of course in Finnish. If you are sleepy in the mornings, try this, it’s 100% going to wake you up.

Finishing the last leg of the journey, driving through a beautiful and sunny Finnish countryside which was almost deserted at this early hour. Heavy metal is pumping and the Swedish crew has high expectations and super eager to get to the mine.

Arriving at the destination Ojamo mine, we were greeted by some very happy faces welcoming us. It was an absolutely beautiful and sunny morning, and looking at the mirror flat surface of the small lake immediately just makes you want to jump in and dive. We were given a site and logistical briefing from the Finnish crew and then quickly started to dig out all the equipment from the cars. Finding everything and putting it together went fairly quickly, and voila, it’s time for making a dive plan. We studied the map of Ojamo, and listened carefully, getting all the information about our dive route. Once that was done, it was time to hit the water starting off by hauling down all the equipment to the platform.

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Scooters, stage and deco tanks were put in the water. In a logistical sense one can not ask for a better setup than this, the parking is more or less just next to the lake and the platform. In the water there is an additional platform lowered so you are standing in about waste deep water. There’s a strong wire running along the entire platform which makes scooter and stage/deco “parking” extremely easy.

The entire logistical setup in Ojamo is very well thought through and superbly executed. There are several points of entry to the mine which are located with big buoys attached to metal wires to the surface. Under water there is a very nice and solid deco station made by metal bars at 6M. There is also a very nice permanent deco habitat to sit inside when having a long final deco stop, this would be especially great during wintertime when the temperature in the lake drops to the chilly 3-4 degrees that the mine sports all year round. There are lines running in open water to connect all the different stations in the lake which makes navigating around the different points very easy. All in all, the logistics are like a gift from above!

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There is no better music in my ears then to hear the words “OK, let’s go diving” with the strongest Finnish accent you could possibly imagine. As mentioned the water temp sits at a fairly steady 3-4 degrees year round inside the mine. During the summer time the open water lake can get to temperatures up to 17-20 degrees. So you don’t really have to be Einstein to figure out what time of year is best for those deco stops that pile up when you spend some time inside the mine. Very nice to feel crispy and alive during the dive being so spoiled by Mexican temperatures, but at the same time, feels good to do decompression thawing back to life.

We spent a couple of days criss crossing through the various shafts and break rooms. I have to point out that having a scooter here makes for the best dives, as it allows you to cover some distance. It is an absolutely beautiful place with lot’s of nice old mining history. And everything is nice and intact due to the protection of the water.

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My hat goes off to the Finnish crew! In terms of hospitality, logistics etc. this was truly amazing!

For sure this is definitely a place to revisit for more awesome diving.  But for now, it’s time to continue the journey! Next stop, Molnar Janos cave in Budapest, Hungary.

 

To be continued…

 

Divers in Finland: Lelle, Aron, Andreas & Daniel

September 15, 2016   No Comments