In to Hungary and Slovakia
Jun 13, 2011
|Day 47 – 51 June 13-17th
Into Hungary and Slovakia
Left under a clear blue sky - 1st for a few days - and cycled through Vienna alongside the river. Sometimes through parkland and then through industry. At times we were parallel with a pedestrian path, railway, road and the waterway - all angles covered. Past the UNESCO HQ and at least a dozen tourist cruise boats - all empty having coached their passengers into Vienna. Then on to the straightest route we have done, mile after mile along a levy through fields of maize (the tallest we have seen so far and we have seen a lot) and the through fluvial forest - lovely feeling but very very straight. Saw our 1st stork and managed a good photograph, it seemed oblivious to us.
The stork reminded me of our Heron game on the Loire, 5pts if you spotted the heron and commented on it before it took flight - a close run game, which I eventually won. To my surprise since then Heron sightings have been very rare, it may be that they flourish on the uncontrolled rivers better than the managed Danube.
Reached Carnuntum near Hainburg. Unknown to me but a major Roman frontier camp and town - worth a look-up on the internet some major events took place there. The excavations have been extensive and the excellent reconstruction of some of the buildings gave a good idea of times long ago. Strange though, looking at the building construction, and in particular the roofs, little seems to have been improved on.
Cycled into Hainburg - a major medieval town on the frontier of the western world - the impressive Vienna Gate was financed by part of the ransom paid for the release of Richard the Lionhearted.
We do feel as though we are moving into a different part of the world. 66k
I did, however, have one piece of luck. On hearing a clicking noise on my front wheel, a not uncommon occurrence with hot roads, I dutifully stopped to remove the stone and found not a stone but a 5p size drawing pin in the centre of the tyre. Held my breath and withdrew it and there was no phiss sound - all was well, modern strong tyre are very good, even better than I thought.
Only few kilometres and we were across another almost unnoticed border into Slovakia. Reminders of times past were, however, very evident in the very large, now redundant and decaying, border complex with vast car parks either side. Bratislava was our morning coffee stop, a little more impressive than I expected. The mental imprint of history grows stronger and the feeling of being in an area of the world where many different peoples have past through, fought over, settled on, defended, and then for some who knows what, is very strong.
Bratislava was for many centuries the 'coronation' capital of Hungary - but then they seem to have had their capital in many different places.
Out of Bratislava and back into Austria and the across the border into Hungary - our last country. Bowled along at great pace along the levy and then onto small roads through little villages. Made Moson-Magyarvr - why not! 83k. More importantly the odometer has clocked up 3000k now! An amazing figure.
Had a lovely meal in a local hostelry where we think we shared the whole of a pig's shoulder. Now we have left Austria prices have halved and I can see us eating out much more.
Wednesday saw wending our way though little villages at quite a pace to the city of Gyor, with its 3 rivers and 17 bridges, where we had a wander round and then significant pasta lunch; appetites are on the large side in Hungary. The afternoon was interesting - and hot. We did a slight detour so we could pass by the 'famous stud' (?) of Bábolna, which on arrival seemed to be closed. A quick beer in the shade and we were off onto rough track and then ignoring an alteration to a direction side - we thought it might be a spoof, wrong. Into a forest on dirt track that rapidly deteriorated into a challenging exercise. Fortunately there had been no recent rain but even so the remaining pools of water were extensive. Added to this at Györ we realised that Sue's previous night's assessment of the days was out by 20k! These things can upset you. Made Komáon at 6.30.
Komrom has thermal springs and the campsite was on them. There was quite a setup to take advantage of nature's gift (?) - a bit smelly. A beautifully crafted wood building over 2 large pools and 3 outdoor pools - a wonderful leisure complex. Left late the next day after a leisurely swim but that meant it was already hot - 35 yesterday! Slipped back into Slovakia and through increasingly lovely countryside with a few villages here and there and distant mountains on the horizon. The only problem was when we looked for refreshment stop, none to be found. After a further 15k we spotted a moored cruise boat - just like in London - decked out for dining. A leisurely beer allowed us to cool down and appreciate our surroundings- posh boat to ourselves, cooling breeze and a dreamlike view of the Danube curving away towards our goal. So entranced that we lunched on board! Shortly after that the Basilica of Esztergom came into view, Hungary's largest church and the seat of their senior Primate since 11th C. Stayed there the night, swimming pool next to our tent - very cooling! (60k)
Next day, Day51, Friday 17th set off for ultimate goal Budapest. At this point the river meets the Visegrad Mountains and after battling east for a few kilometres, finds an easier route due south and heads for Budapest. Some 30k of captivating scenery followed until we emerged from the hills with the plain of Budapest before us. After some difficulty found our campsite, just after Sue's new wheel lost a couple of spokes. Hot & tired but elated. (99k)