Category Archives: Hungary

30 September & 01 October 2015 – to Gyor, Bratislava and Vienna

The last day of September and the first of October, that snuck up quick. Definitely getting colder  however I’m hoping the weather will stay sunny; it’s lovely cycling when it’s cold, but clear and bright. Here are my routes and a stats for the last two days:

–> 30 September – to Gyor ( 143km)
After too short a time in Budapest it was time to leave. I could have easily spent another day or two looking around, however my homing instinct has kicked in and I’m keen to make more progress West. Budapest ranks up with Hamburg on the great city front though, and I’ll definitely be back at some point.

Post breakfast, and trying not to wake fellow dorm mates whilst packing up, I set off on a bright but relatively chilly morning. After negotiating some relatively heavy traffic, including a lot of cyclists on their way to work or college, I rode over the Danube to the Buda side of the river, then through and out of the city via route 1. I wasn’t following Eurovelo 6 initially as it goes on a big meander following the Danube, however I’d join up with it later, touch wood.

The road today was mostly flat, with a few gentle hills keeping things interesting. There was the usual farmland and fields of sweetcorn, but also some woodland which made a pleasant change, and the occasional small town. Like yesterday more no cycling signs appeared on the main road, alongside no horse and cart or tractor notices, however there were parallel roads I could use, or I just ignored the signs and as the road was quiet, and anyway, I passed a few locals on bikes using it. I’m not sure why they don’t want cyclists using route 1 as it’s perfect for bikes, and there isn’t much traffic. Handily there were also quite a few cycle paths to take advantage of, especially in towns.

The morning progressed slowly. It’s weird, kilometres in the morning always seem to take longer to cover, in my head that is, whilst after lunch they start to fly by, perhaps because I’m zoning out more, daydreaming away to myself.

I passed a handful of walkers today, loaded with rucksacks and other bags, and wondered if they were refugees/migrants, or just locals. One young chap looked like he’d been on the road a long time; he had that weathered look, a bit like me I suppose. I waved and shouted good luck as he trudged along; he smiled and waved back.

Lidl provided lunch; I love Lidl, it’s cheap, and common in much of Europe. They sell a variety of pastry base products which make good fuel for pedalling, such as pizza type things and sausage rolls. Whilst having lunch I was struck by how I haven’t heard any crickets or Cicadas in a while. I can’t remember the last time I heard them but it was fairly recently. Perhaps the colder weather has sent them all to sleep; at least it’s still dry, and no headwind today which was very welcome.

I pedalled on, passing a few vineyards on my way to Tata. Apparently there is a lot of wine production in this area. I arrived in Gyor in relatively good time, and found Topart Camping on the outskirts without too much trouble. It was good to be camping again. The site was quiet, a small family run affair, and I was the only camper. There were a few people in the chalets, and one enthusiastic German visitor in a camper van who I chatted with for a bit, but it was otherwise peaceful and I was left to my own devices.

Dinner was from a local supermarket, Aldi this time, and I partook of some Hungarian white wine which proved very tasty; thought it was appropriate after seeing lots of vineyards today. After a bit of writing and planning I crawled into my tent for an early night. It gets dark about 18.30 now, so I wanted to get an early start to give me enough time to get through Slovakia and on into Austria tomorrow; there’s a campsite just to the West of Vienna I’m aiming for.

Everything beginning to look a bit autumnal

Everything beginning to look a bit autumnal

It’s the 01 October tomorrow, which marks 5 months since I left Norwich. I think I’ve got about 900 miles left until I reach Dieppe, and then a few hundred once I’m back in the UK, however that depends on how many detours I take. Still on track to get back in time for the Norwich beer festival, and I’m hoping to make it to another small festival before that; the ‘Yestival‘ being run by Dave Cornthwaite for the first time this year.

One last update; no evil dogs chasing me today, perhaps I’ve seen the last of them now…however I’m sure their sheep overlords have more nefarious schemes in store for me.

–> 01 October – to Vienna, via Slovakia (163km)
Despite the cold I had a very good night’s sleep, cosy in my tent and sleeping bag. It’s a bit odd it being cold, after so long being hot, however I’m sure I’ll get used to it quickly. It’s also not really that cold yet, compared with the early days of the tour in Norway; I just need to acclimatize.

I had some vivid dreams last night, involving sword fights. I’m really not sure what that means, however I was on my bike and pedalling by 07:45, alert for any Viking ambushes; there were definitely Vikings in my dream, and Orcs for some reason. Thankfully, but in some ways disappointingly, there were no incidents of a swashbuckling nature as I rode up Eurovelo 6 to the border with Slovakia. In fact the whole day was pretty relaxing, with most of the riding taking place on cycle paths next to the road.

It was about 60km to the border, through farmland in the sunshine. I stopped at a garage just before Slovakia to try to use up all my Hungarian change; I had a lot of Forint coinage to use, and left with a lot of chocolate bars in my panniers, so all good.

There’s no official border crossing if you follow the Eurovelo 6 route, I was just suddenly in Slovakia. I don’t know if there’s something more substantial if you follow the main road. I realised I’d changed country as I got a text from Vodafone welcoming me to Slovakia, however there were other changes visible almost immediately; lots of cyclists appeared in lycra, which had been rare in Hungary. The cycle route to Bratislava, on top of a levee, is very popular with cyclists and people roller-blading, and it was nice to have folks to wave or say hello to again. I’m not sure what people think of me; my shorts have got some big holes in and I generally look a bit unkempt, however I’m determined to make it back to the UK without having to buy any new kit, if at all possible.

I arrived in Bratislava but cycled pretty much straight past it, staying on the signposted Eurovelo 6 route around the outskirts and on the South side of the Danube. Then it was on through more countryside, and over a few small hills, before I was suddenly in Austria, again without really realising it. There may have been a sign, I don’t know, I spent quite a while on the phone as I was pedalling today, chatting to family, so could have missed it.

There followed a long ride to Vienna, which I thoroughly enjoyed, being in high spirits; crossing borders into new countries always gives me a boost. I was following the Eurovelo 6 signs still, however it all got a bit confusing due to the volume of cycle path signs, and somewhere along the line I must have missed one. I carried on along the main road, which was probably more direct anyway, passing the airport, then through the suburbs and into the city centre. Vienna proved very busy, still being packed with tourists despite it being later in the season.

I walked/cycled around Vienna for about an hour and a half, taking in a few sights, sounds and smells. I’m afraid I don’t know what all the buildings are, however the architecture was in general very impressive and elaborate, and I can see why lots of people visit. For me it was just a bit too busy and not as friendly as Budapest. I think it would be better to visit without my bike; I still want to see a concert in the city so will have to come back. I guess Vienna reminds me a bit of Paris, with all the grand buildings, and masses of people, and a bit impersonal.

Having said I didn’t know what any of the buildings were, my iPhone has handily attempted to identify them via the location; very helpful, and hopefully mostly right. There were also a lot of horse and carriage taxis, which looks like a nice way to see the city; forgot to take a photo of them however the drivers were dressed up very smartly.

I paused at the Rathaus (town hall) for a webcam opportunity, and was spotted by the folks at home, however the camera was quite a way away so the image isn’t too clear; good to wave though. Then I made my way West out of the city, doing my best to avoid trams, and more importantly tram lines which can be deadly if you get a wheel trapped in them. I hadn’t anticipated the long climb over the hill to my campsite for the evening, which was a little tough at the end of the day. I had to ascend about 300m, and then negotiate a steep downhill section which I couldn’t really enjoy due to parts of it being a 25% slope, with big bends; my brake pads are wearing out. My Garmin device also decided some narrow paths with loads of steps were fine to cycle on, so I had to route around these adding on a kilometre or two.

Vienna West campsite was a welcome sight, and I quickly pitched my tent, showered, and went in search of food. The campsite has its own restaurant however it wasn’t very friendly, so I walked down the road and found a pizzeria which did the job nicely, and allowed for a cold beer whilst waiting for my pizza; a Daviola, very tasty.

Post pizza I did a bit of planning, working out my route along the Danube. It looks quite wriggly so might take longer than anticipated, but should be very entertaining. The night got progressively colder, and very damp due to a heavy dew, so it wasn’t long before I retreated to my tent and got cosy. It’s going to be odd getting home and not sleeping in a tent for a while; I think I’ll miss it.

In other news I have a cold, which is more annoying than anything else; not really impacting cycling, just have a runny nose and slightly sore throat. Will try to cure it with Schnapps.

28 & 29 September – to Budapest and a rest day

At the last-minute I decided to have a day off in Budapest. It seemed a shame to pass straight through the city without stopping to do some sightseeing, and besides, I needed to do some washing.

It was supposed to be relatively short and easy ride from Solt to Budapest, however it turned into a bit of an adventure due to a few wrong turnings! Here is my route and stats:

–>28 September – to Budapest (93km)
Sometimes you have days which turn into more of an adventure than anticipated. Thankfully I’d had a very good night’s sleep and breakfast at the Eurovelo6 Stop, in Solt, thus I was able to cope with all the route threw at me, as I pedalled off following the Eurovelo 6 signs.

My hosts had informed me the road got a little bumpy for about 15km, but was generally alright; at least that’s what I think they said, my Hungarian isn’t great, and their English was limited. What they actually meant was the route went off-road, along a grassy track through fields, on top of a dyke type thing. This turned out to be hard work, especially into a headwind, resulting in a fair amount of cursing with only the occasional sheep to hear my plaintive cries. This was day 3 of the headwind incidentally, so it was getting a little tedious.

I didn’t see many other people on the track, just the occasional shepherd or farmer, and then a small group of women resting in sleeping bags down on one side of the levee, with their bikes nearby; I’m not quite sure what was going on, but they looked comfy and waved. Eventually I found a road again, or rather a muddy track, that runs alongside the Danube for quite a way, past a lot of riverside houses and fishing spots. It was pleasant riding, even if I had to dodge a lot of potholes and got a bit grimy.

I must have missed a Eurovelo 6 sign at some point, or they ran out, because I ended up on route 51. The main road was pretty busy, however I can deal with most busy roads after tackling Istanbul. What I couldn’t really deal with were the ‘no cycling’ signs that appeared after a while, and persisted, forcing me to turn off route 51 to try to find an alternative road to Budapest. In my efforts to try to relocate Eurovelo 6 I traversed several muddy farmer’s tracks, that my Garmin device informed me were roads. These tracks deteriorated into trails, until I ended up pushing my bike for about 500m through verdant vegetation before reaching a semi-paved track again. It was fairly tough going, but a good adventure, and satisfying to not have to turn around. I was once again glad of Smaug; tough Expedition bike from Oxford Bike Works that can cope with most things.

After passing a lot of barking dogs, but none that chased me, I rejoined main roads to Budapest.  It was a fairly easy ride into the city, and I located my hostel on the ‘Pest’ side of the river without any trouble; had photos of the hostel location on my phone. Hostel Unity is conveniently situated in the centre of the pub/bar/restaurant area of Budapest, however I hadn’t realised it’s on the third floor of a large building. I had to take my panniers off and transport them, then my bike, up in the lift, however it was all worth it as the hostel turned out to be very welcoming, friendly and helpful. It was also quite quiet, the busy season having just about come to an end.

After checking in I went for a wander around the local area, passing a whole host of drinking and eating venues, all of which looked good. I eventually chose one at random (Reds), and had some Hungarian food, including a great beef stew. The beer was also very welcome after today’s adventures.

Feeling very full I waddled back to the hostel and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting with a few other guests, including Danny from Bristol, who is randomly travelling around Europe for a few months; random travelling is the best way I reckon. As usual there were also a few folks from the US and Australia, on tours of European cities, all good people to chat to.

On the spur of the moment I decided to have a day off in Budapest, as it seemed a shame just to pass straight through the city without having a look around, and I needed to do some washing anyway. Budapest is another one of those cities I got a good feeling about, after only a short while; it’s a bit weird how quickly you can tell whether you’re going to like somewhere or not, must be something to do with the atmosphere, people, and city dynamics. Budapest turned out to be great.

Oh, and good news, my nephew liked the lego I sent him for his birthday, marvellous!

–> 29 September – a rest day in Budapest
After a bit of a lie in, which I’m not very good at any more, I got up and had the all included hostel breakfast, then chilled out for a couple of hours, reading, writing and catching up on the news. I also got some much-needed washing done; maybe the last washing needed before getting back to the UK!

Unity hostel isn’t far from a music college, and you can hear the students practising; some were better than others. The day was bright and sunny, so after studying the map I set out to explore Budapest, or rather ‘Pest’, as the ‘Buda’ bit of the city is over the other side of the river and I didn’t really have time to go there too. To start off with I headed up to Hero’s Square, grabbing a Gyros kebab for lunch on the way; very tasty, and cheap.

If you get bored with photos I apologise, I took rather a lot today. Hero’s Square is good to visit, with statues of past leaders, including Arpad, who I mentioned in a past blog post; he was the leader of the tribes that founded Hungary. There are lots of other statues of people in various heroic poses.

After Hero’s Square I walked up to the Turkish Spa, and took a look inside the foyer. It’s supposed to be very good, however looked a little pricey, and in any case Lobster was getting nervous about all the hot water so we had to make a swift exit.

After a break in the park, where I read my friend Simon’s latest chapters from the SciFi novel he’s writing (check is out for free here), I walked down Andrassy Street to the House of Terror. I didn’t going into the museum, as the tour takes at least a couple of hours, however it was very interesting to read the stories on boards outside. It was also quite chilling, sending a shiver down my spine, as I read about the thousands of people the Soviets carted off to work in Gulags indefinitely, after the Second World War. So many of them died, never to see their homeland again, and so many were imprisoned for spurious or no real reason. The prisoners were treated horrifically, often being beaten to death if they couldn’t work or walk; animals were treated more humanely! I may have the stats wrong but of the 700,000 people transported to forced labour camps, around 300,000 died, and most weren’t repatriated for years. You can almost sense the ghosts of these people as you stand outside the building. The last person was repatriated in 2000, after being discovered in a mental hospital in Russia; he wasn’t mentally ill, he just couldn’t speak any Russian.

It’s hard to take in just how badly the Soviet regime treated much of the population in Eastern Europe, after the Second World War, and something that probably isn’t taught or talked about as much as Nazi atrocities; think it deserves to be, and these victims remembered. I hope the human race can learn from these past events, especially in light of what is going on at the moment in the Middle East and elsewhere.

After a somewhat sobering experience I was in need of something a little lighter, so after a hot chocolate I randomly stopped at the Opera House and decided to take the tour, which included a mini concert. It turned out to be a great experience, and something really different for me. I’m convinced to go and see more theatre, and take in an opera, when I get back to the UK.

The Hungarian State Opera House building is extremely ornate, and was built in 19th century, partly financed by the Emperor Franz Joseph, and partly by the city itself. The Emperor decreed that the Opera House shouldn’t be any bigger than the one in Vienna, and was somewhat alarmed when he saw it of the first time and realised it was probably more splendid.

The interior of the building is magnificent, with sweeping staircases, elaborately carved paneling, busts of composers or other famous people around every corner, as well as lots of great paintings and frescos. The main auditorium is decked out in gold leaf, with a central chandelier illuminating the space; it takes several hours to lower the chandelier, by hand (30 strong blokes) and change all the light bulbs. There are grates under the seats that let cool air up into the auditorium; they used to put ice blocks down there to provide air-conditioning, however things have moved on now. Unlike many of the buildings in Budapest the Opera House wasn’t damaged during the war. A bomb did fall through on to the stage, but it didn’t explode.

The mini concert on the staircase at the end was very entertaining, with a female opera singer doing a couple of numbers. It was a new experience to hear such powerful singing live, and I very much enjoyed it; as mentioned I will be endeavouring to see more musicals and hopefully an opera when I get back to the UK – would love to see Aida.

With the daylight hours getting shorter it wasn’t long before the sun was due to set after I left the opera house, and I was pretty hungry after all the walking about, so I grabbed a hot dog then headed back to he hostel to relax.

Mexican hotdog, just because

Mexican hotdog, just because

There’s still a lot more Budapest has to offer, so I think I’m going to have to put it on the list of places to come back to. This list is getting a bit long now, and I’m not sure how I’m going to balance it versus wanting to see completely new places, however Budapest will definitely rank near the top.

After a great day off I spent the evening doing some planning, and chatting with more guests, including an Australian Expedition leader who takes kids on one or two-week long expeditions all around the world, and traveller from Brazil just finishing his European Tour. Bruno from Brazil has confirmed that South America is a must visit place, although I think it’ll take about 6 months to see it properly…arrggghh…I need more lifetime.

Reckon I’ve got about 1,000 miles to go to the English channel,  so perhaps 2 more weeks riding until I’m back on British soil. This is exciting, but also a little saddening that things are coming to an end. I am however really looking forward to seeing friends and family again soon 🙂

25 to 27 September 2015 – Belgrade, Somber into Hungary

Routes and stats for the last few days below:

A few more big cycling days, and now I’m in Hungary; country number 22 of the tour!

–> 25 September – to Belgrade (144km)
My tent got battered by squalls overnight. The wind really shook my tent, and the rain was quite heavy at points, however no leaks to report. I’m not sure how the stray dog faired however he was still there in the morning, and wagging his tail enthusiastically. The campsite cat wasn’t so enthusiastic about his presence, however they seemed to reach a détente of sorts; the dog soon learnt that sticking his nose at the cat wasn’t a good plan!

After a breakfast of bread, honey and cheese, I pedalled off towards Belgrade after tucking some money under the campsite office door, to keep my karma all balanced. The stray dog attempted to follow me for a couple of kilometres, obviously having decided to join my ‘pack’, however he had to give up after a bit – very good effort though. I think he was quite a young dog, and pretty lonely. I do feel sorry for all the strays around, and something needs to be done about it in several of the countries I’ve passed through; it’s nice when they’re friendly, however more often than not they’re aggressive and alarming.

I rode out of the last bit of the Iron Gates gorge, and then through the fortress guarding the entrance to the gorge near Golubac. The fortress is pretty imposing, and the road runs straight through its lower level. I think it’s been the site of the many battles over the course several centuries, for example between the Ottoman and Hungarian Empires.

Over the course of the day I passed a lot of activity in the countryside, with people out collecting  walnuts or harvesting fruit, or using scythes to cut back vegetation and grass; had to be careful not to lose something vital on the back-swings. I followed the Eurovelo 6 route for a bit, to Veliko Gradiste, then somehow missed a signpost, which worked out alright as I continued on the more direct main road; this probably saved me about 20km on my way to Belgrade.

Today’s ride wasn’t as exciting as yesterday’s, but at least it was fairly flat until the last 30km. The latter 30km proved to be fairly hilly and tiring, however i made it to Belgrade and to Hostel Hedonist without any trouble. The hostel gave me a warm welcome (thanks Philip), and was quite busy despite it being late in the year; I don’t think big city hostels are ever that quiet. With some campsites starting to close for the year I might need to start using hostels or hotels more, especially as there aren’t that many campsites in this part of the world. I could wild camp more, but that depends on suitable sites that aren’t going to be too obvious.

The hostel directed me to a local burger joint for dinner, which proved just what I was after; cheap, tasty, and with lots of calories. The Serbians seem to like their burgers, and produce some excellent quality meat patties. After dinner and a bit of a wander (forgot to take photos), I picked up a few supplies, then chilled out at the hostel with other guests, over a few beers and some honey rakia courtesy of the hosts. Despite there being a few drinking games going on I managed to get some writing done, and plan the next few days, before retreating to bed before things got too messy; good to meet and chat with more travellers again though, and amazing just how many Australian and New Zealanders I’m encountering.

As I retired for the night it started to rain very hard; hope it clears up for the morning!

–> 26 September – to Sombor (170km)
Staying in a hostel in a big city can be fun, but it can also be noisy, and thus I didn’t get the best night’s sleep. Several people were up drinking and chatting until very late, or very early depending on your perspective; 4 were still going when I got up at 06.30. Still, I’d had a fun night, and had avoided a hangover, so I set off towards Novi Sad and Sombor. I wasn’t sure exactly how far I’d get, and what the weather was going to be like, however it turned out to be a long ride and pretty wet for some of it.

It was chilly and damp as I pedalled to Novi Sad, and the road was slippery in places, encouraging stunt possibilities. My back wheel slid sideways when I had to brake hard on the outskirts of Belgrade, to avoid a car performing unexpected manoeuvres, however I managed to not fall off. There was only one big hill to deal with, just before Novi Sad, and the rest of the route was fairly flat. The road before Novi Sad was also very bumpy, reminding me a bit of parts of Belgium, with regular wrist jarring cracks, and some pretty serious pot holes to avoid.

Before reaching Novi Sad I rounded a corner and spotted not a bird, or a plane, but Super Cycling Man. I’d been wondering if I’d bump into Will Hodson, aka Super Cycling Man.  Will is on his way around the world by bike, aiming to pedal 100,000km across all 7 continents, over the course of 5 years, dressed as a superhero. You can check out his story on his website, as well as keep up-to-date on his progress: http://supercyclingman.com

It was great to chat for a bit, and compare mascots, although Travelling Lobster was slightly intimidated by Will’s mascot, Dave the Worm. Will’s an amazing bloke, and best of luck to him on his 5 year adventure; I find it hard to contemplate being on the road 5 years, however as I’ve said before you have to chunk it up into smaller sections, and not think about the whole thing; just live in the moment and enjoy all the varied experiences and people you meet.

Novi Sad was bigger than I expected, and very busy; I discovered latterly that it’s the 2nd largest city in Serbia. I crossed over the Danube as a big coal barge passed under the bridge.

Crossing the Danube in Novi Sad - huge coal barge

Crossing the Danube in Novi Sad – huge coal barge

Novi Sad was heavily bombed in 1999 by Nato, during the Kosovo war, and all the bridges over the river destroyed; not that long ago really. Today it’s hard to imagine all the fighting that went on over Kosovo, especially as all the people are so friendly.

There followed a very long ride through flat farmland, into a slight headwind, to Sombor near the Hungarian border. The ride reminded me of cycling from Cambridge to Norwich, through fenland and fields of crops. I was fairly bored by the end of the day, and quite frustrated due to the headwind making it feel like I was constantly pedalling uphill, despite it being flat.

If I get annoyed by a headwind at the moment, I remind myself that at least I’m not being blown backwards, unlike Sarah Outen who is rowing across the Atlantic at the moment, on the last leg of her expedition around the world. Sarah is having quite a hard time of it, with the wind being against her; must be incredibly difficult to keep motivated. You can check out her progress here:  http://www.sarahouten.com/the-mission/journey-tracker/

One thing that Sarah doesn’t have to put up with though is dogs, although I imagine there are quite a few other animal hazards to contend with. I was chased 4 times by dogs today; once by 3 Jack Russell sized canines that I could have easily kicked into touch. I didn’t incidentally, however it was tempting.

Although I didn’t pass any other cycle tourers after Novi Sad, I did get plenty of waves and shouts of hello from locals as I rode along, and friendly beeps from passing cars, all of which helped me reach Sombor after 170km. I found the Long Tour Bike Camp, not far from the town centre, and checked in for the night. The Long Tour Bike Camp is a relatively new set up, catering specifically for cycle tourers. I received a very warm welcome from the hosts, and elected to stay in their guest apartment rather than pitch my tent for the night. Whilst still a work in progress it’s a brilliant set up, with a workshop where you can conduct any repairs you might need to perform, and the hosts able to offer route advice, including future accommodation options. As with all these places it’s the hosts that make it, and in this case they are both exceptionally welcoming, friendly and helpful.

After a long ride I was ready for some food, so I headed into town to forage for a few supplies and pizza; the latter was delicious. I guess now it’s getting colder, and I’m pedalling longer distances each day on my way back to the UK, I’m going to have to try and eat even more; could be tricky – I’ll buy more Haribo and chocolate!

 

A bit later on in the evening I met Jovan Erakovic, the architect of the Eurovelo 6 route in Serbia, and an accomplished cycle tourer himself; he’s friends with the hosts. It was good to swap tales and ideas for future tours. It was also very good to retire to a comfy bed, and needless to say it didn’t take me long to fall asleep.

–> 27 September – to Solt, Hungary (136km)
I felt refreshed and ready for another day’s riding in the morning, and would thoroughly recommend Long Tour Bike Camp if your passing that way by bike. They supplied me with an excellent breakfast; the first time I’ve had bacon in a long time, which made me very happy.

After signing their memory wall, alongside Super Cycling Man’s note who also stayed here, I set off for the border and Hungary, only 27km away. It didn’t take long to get there, and there were no issues crossing, and no sign of any migrants/refugees. There is a big razor wire fence that I believe has only been put up recently.

The border guards were checking cars pretty thoroughly, and asked me if I had any drugs or weapons; I wondered if I needed to declare Lobster, as he’s probably a health risk due badly needing a wash!

Once over the border it was a long flat cycle North to Solt, through Baja and a few other towns, as well as a lot more farmland. The ride was very similar to yesterday’s; flat, damp, crops and an irritating headwind which knocked a few kilometres per hour off my speed. At least the road wasn’t very busy, and there were a few cycle path sections, including a long one a the end of the day on top of a dyke. In one town I passed nets full of what I assume is Paprika, hung up to dry; loads of it.

Only got chased by dogs once today, so Hungary looking up on that front!

Once in Solt I found an ATM to withdraw some cash, getting a bit confused about the exchange rate, then found my planned accommodation for the night; Eurovelo 6 Stop. Eurovelo 6 Stop is another place catering for cycle tourers, and again I received a warm welcome. They have a nice little annex down at the bottom of their garden, with a few beds, kitchen and bathroom; suited me fine. They were in the process of celebrating their mother’s 85th birthday, with family visiting from Budapest; the grandchildren were busy helping harvest pears, as well as walnuts I think, from trees in the garden.

The shops are all closed in Hungary on Sundays, at least they are away from the big cities, so I elected for takeaway from a local restaurant which the hostess helped me order; pizza and a large Greek salad.

I finished the evening with glass of some kind of plum schnapps from the hosts, which did a great job of relaxing my muscles, and made me very sleepy. Everyone seems to brew their own spirits in this part of the world, and here was no exception; excellent stuff but pretty powerful.

Tomorrow it’s on to Budapest where I may have a rest day, before continuing on towards Vienna. I think I’m about 2 weeks away from the UK now, which feels a bit surreal, however I’ve still got some exciting bits of Europe to pedal through. Got a few plans for when I get back to the UK, but still fleshing them out; want to have some fun on home soil before going back to work. Back to work, now there’s a sobering thought!