Farkas-erdő (Wolf Forest) is not really a forest and obviously does not have wolves. Its most canine touch are the distant barks occasionally to be heard from the Rex Animal Shelter (actually called Rex Animal Island, though it’s not an island), situated at the Ócéanárok street end of Farkaserdő. Óceánárok means ocean ditch, but it’s neither a ditch nor an ocean, the closest ditch-like formation being the Szilas stream. What Farkas-erdő is, then, is a city park, located at the border of the Újpest and Káposztásmegyer neighbourhoods. I won’t bore you with the etymology of Újpest, but káposzta is cabbage and the megyers were one of the original Hungarian tribes, though interestingly enough we found neither when we visited.
The reason for our outing was the recently resurrected project of cataloging all of Budapest’s city parks and green areas, and upon an exhaustive analysis of the map for places we have failed to explore so far, we chanced upon this patch of land on the edge of town. The easiest way to approach it is by tram 14 from Lehel square- the ride is long by Budapest standards, lasting half an hour and almost the entire length of the line. We got off at the poetically named Bőröndös (Suitcase) street, but you can just as well get off at the next stop, Bőrfestő (Tanner) street.
The park currently encompasses about 50 hectares- its size was gradually reduced after 1981 with the building of the housing estate that encircles it. There are, as with many green areas in Budapest, constant attempts to maim it even further, but a recent project to build an archery center (possibly for the megyers roaming around the area who like to trap cabbage by piercing its heart with an arrow as it tries to jump over the Szilas stream) was shelved by local authorities.
For an area so small and surrounded by the asphalt jungle on all sides, Farkas-erdő is brimming with wildlife, especially birds. Here I engage in one of those futile projects when I translate from one language to another a number of birds I can recognize in neither, but they have all been spotted in the area by more astute ornithologists: black and green woodpeckers, nightingales, blackcaps and fieldfares. There are several areas with feeders and bird houses, which are apparently also favoured by the hazel dormouse, of which we sadly did not get a glimpse, but we did spot some athletic squirrels. To make the Alice in Wonderland-ian landscape complete we have, nope, not megyers playing croquet, but mushrooms, of which many edible species, which are abundant in rainier seasons.
Since I’m moderately better at identifying trees, I can confirm that I spotted spruces, maples, sycamores and oak trees. There is a designated walking trail which theoretically has info boards about plants and wildlife, but in practice most of them are covered in graffiti by now. What you can definitely follow is a running trail, called the Crocodile Trail for some reason, no, there are no crocodiles in Wolf Forest (probably because the megyers hunted them down to make bags for their bows). Other amenities include an outdoor gym and a grilling area on the side facing Farkaserdő street, though your best bet when it comes to nutrition in the area might still be Sógor restaurant, located a leisurely five minutes away and serving simple but hearty staple meals to a crowd of habitual looking locals-possibly megyers who blend in with the enemy by imitating its urban lifestyle.