I am sure how many of you know about geocaching, Mike and I didn’t. I had heard the term on TV a few years ago and that was the level of my knowledge. Jan and Geertje from the Netherlands introduced Mike and I to geocaching a few weeks ago.
Geocaching is like a worldwide scavenger hunt. People hide containers that range in size from tiny to shoe box size. You are provided with the GPS coordinates i.e. the latitude and longitude, of the hidden item. Often there are some hints and clues that you can choose to take advantage of. Occasionally there are ones called “spoilers” that will tell you quite specifically where to look. Geocaching reminds me a little of the Escape Room that Charleigh treated Mike and I to for Christmas last year.
A typical cache is a small waterproof container that contains paper for logging the date and your id when you find the item. You also register your find on the internet. I am told that the larger containers can contain items for trading, such as toys or trinkets, of very little value. Often children will trade items in these caches. There are multiple organizations that coordinate geocaches. As far as I know the biggest one is www.geocaching.com.
Mike’s and my total experience so far is in Romania with one afternoon in Hungary. We have found many geocaches in historical places such as medieval churches, monuments, monasteries and old town squares. The geocache app typically tells you about the significance of the church, monument, area etc. where cache is hidden. Geocaches aren’t just in urban areas, we have climbed hills, walked through parks and hiked in the woods for them. In a previous article I mentioned both the “Merry Cemetery” and the “Pauper’s Cemetery”. Both of these had hidden geocaches. Mike and I would probably have found the Merry Cemetery without this game because it is really well known. We might not have learned about the Pauper’s Cemetery and monument if it hadn’t been for the geocache hidden there.
According to the geocache maps there are a lot of caches right around where we live near Toronto. Somehow, I don’t see discovering places of historical interest being very likely in Port Credit. I don’t know much about how it works in North America and “modern” cities but I guess we will find out.
There are some really avid geocachers around. People talk about spending hours looking for a tiny hidden item. That isn’t us. Mike and I use geocaching as a reason to get out and explore areas that we might not otherwise see. It also gives us something to do when the weather is unpredictable or even drizzling. When we get to the geocache coordinates we instantly read the hints and any comments that other people have made that might give us really good clues. If Mike hasn’t found the item in the first couple of minutes he gets very impatient and frustrated.
Geocaching can be free or there can be fees. With geocaching.com each geocache is assigned a difficulty level from 1 – 5 based on how hard it is to find. The terrain where the cache is hidden is also rated. If either the search or the terrain is rated above a 2 only people who pay and subscribe to the service can get the information required to find the cache. As you can probably guess, Mike and I will stick with the free version. We have no interest in caches that are hard to find and if you need to walk miles or climb a mountain we aren’t interested in that either. As an aside, one geocache that has only been found by a very few individuals is actually hidden on the International Space Station!
Mike and I visited Timisoara recently. We were there over two months ago but we didn’t see much. On our first visit we stopped at a mall and I fell and hurt my foot quite badly. We left straight away and returned to the RV. A few days later we returned to the town, that has a very good reputation, but my walking didn’t extend much past the main square. Third time lucky. On our first visit we had never heard of geocaching. This time we looked it up right away and searched for about seven caches over the course of the day. If I am honest, we actually only found four of the seven but even the ones that we didn’t find took us to interesting squares and churches. Another town that was just lovely to see and that geocaching had us walking all around was Oradea. You can see the main town square where one cache was hidden, at the top of this article. A picture of the large park in the centre of Oradea, where we found one geocache, is included in the Western Romania article.
In one town we looked for a cache in a brand-new park; new trees, shrubs, water, bridges and paths. We would love to see this park in 10 years’ time when the shrubs and trees have all grown. It will be lovely. Thanks to geocaching we visited one historic church and were lucky enough to sit and watch a choir performing in the church. We have visited some lovely monasteries. Outside one town we climbed some hills to find a cache. The views from the hillside were fantastic. One afternoon we were near the Hungarian border and decided to drive across and visit some of the small villages near the border. There were quite a few caches in the area. One was in, what used to be a village. In 1970 this village had 706 inhabitants. On May 13 that year, there was a flood that almost completely destroyed the village and the surrounding areas. The people were not allowed to rebuild in this area for flood protection reasons. In 2011, in the five flooded villages, there were 10 people still living there. Even though the population isn’t very high people come and put flowers on the tombs in the cemetery every day. Many people still choose this area for their own graves. On this same trip we found a cache hidden in a tower that you could climb to get a great view of the countryside.
Back in Romania, there are 22 caches hidden in the zoo in Timișoara. We didn’t go there but what a great idea to keep the kids interested for the day.
Mike and I really like exploring a city through the audio tours on our phone. For many of the smaller areas that we have been visiting recently there are no audio tours. Geocaching has helped us explore some of the towns and learn about them. As a side benefit it also helps us get our 10,000 steps a day which we haven’t been doing very well on recently.
All the pictures on this page were areas and buildings that we visited to look for a geocache.
If you look closely at this picture from the Geocaching app, you will see four happy faces where we found the geocaches, two sad faces where we couldn’t find the cache, three green circles that we didn’t get to and one grey circle that you would have had to be a premium (paid) member to get more details. It was a fun afternoon visiting Timișoara.