Researching places to fly my drone in Budapest brought me to Atlas Obscura, one of my favorite websites for finding unusual and unique things to do and places to see around the world. In Budapest there were several interesting places I wanted to check out, but the one place that I for sure wanted to fly my drone was outside the city, a lake called Bokod near the small town of Oroszlany.
From Budapest it was a pretty simple couple of train rides to get to Oroszlany. The train dropped us at a train station that looked like more of a bus stop, and I only was able to navigate to the lake using satellite view on Google maps. From the train station we took a pedestrian bridge over the tracks and started walking through a residential neighborhood towards the lake, about a 1 to 2 mile walk. I was anxious to get to the lake because the weather was predicting a thunderstorm in the next hour, and I wanted to get Furby the drone up in the air and safely back before that happened. We walked the first mile and then were on the last stretch of straight narrow road to the lake when we decided to flag down a car and hitch a ride the last 15 minutes of walking, which only took 2 minutes in a car as our driver had quite a heavy foot on the gas.
From where he dropped us off we continued walking until we came to a dirt driveway with several wooden outhouses on the shore. Just beyond the outhouses I could see the wooden walkways out into the lake to individual little houses, just as I had seen in images online. The lake is actually a cooling lake for a nuclear power plant, and for this reason the lake never freezes over in winter making it a popular fishing destination year round (the nuclear plant also added an interesting touch to the landscape). In Chernobyl I was informed not to take photographs of the nuclear reactor buildings, and I learned that there are international restrictions on photographing and flying drones around nuclear facilities. For this reason I was concerned about flying my drone near the plant on the opposite side of the lake, and flying over the lake at all. I remained careful and aware of where my drone was, and nobody seemed to be at the lake, and no boats or security of any type showed up to ask me to stop.
Non-drone photos by Jason MacDonald
I flew around for the life of one battery (which is now well over 20 minutes on my nimble new DJI Phantom 4), after which time we decided to wander further along the lake to find some specific houses and walkways I had seen in photographs. Finding the right houses involved more Google Satellite view detective work to find the exact walkways I was looking for, which turned out to be pretty easy since they are all unique. We walked up the road to the next access point and found the walkways, but we also saw that there was a car parked and that we weren’t the only ones on the lake.
Jason decided to walk down the long walkway to the only occupied lake house and say hello to its inhabitants. My concern was that they would be bothered by a drone buzzing overhead, so Jason thought it would be a good idea to greet them and ask for permission. There were two men fishing at the house, and they invited us on to their porch and showed us around the little lake house. Our communication was limited because of our lack of knowledge of Hungarian and their limited English, but the two men (one the long time owner of the house and the other who was his friend visiting… unfortunately I have forgotten their names) were extremely friendly and excited to see me fly my drone, which I flew from their back porch looking out across the lake.
After another successful flight I showed them the preview footage on my phone, and they were absolutely delighted to see the new view of the lake. They offered us schnapps and I took a couple of shots with them. We had along a friends Fuji Instax mini camera that I had borrowed for this trip and Jason took a couple of snaps of me with my drone with our new friends so that we could keep one and leave them behind a copy for their lake house. Their warm hospitality didn’t end with the schnapps, and they offered us home cooked goulash (a very rich and tasty paprika meat stew) which looked too delicious to decline.
Within Budapest we rode the (very easy to navigate) metro to the last stop on the red line, Déli Pályaudvar where we bought a ticket to Oroszlany and got on a train to Banhida (this trip was about 40 mins, and in Banhida next to the station there is a shopping mall if you want to stop and buy any snacks). In Banhida we transferred to the train to Oroszlany (this trip was only about 10 mins). From there you have to walk (or hitchhike about a mile and a half to the lake, I saw no taxis and did not see any buses running along very much of the route we were walking).
Visited May 2016
Photos by Renee Lusano and Jason MacDonald