Nantes to Budapest - Sue and Peter's Tale travel blog

Budapest

Parliament

A Side Street

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion

Restored Church

Buda to Pest

Another Pest

Small Boy Getting a Close Up

One of Budapest's Lion Guardians

The Best the camera could do

Momento Park

This should be on Top Gear

Just a Market

Market

Szent Istvan Basilica

A Side View

Inside

Weeping Willow Tree of Budapest Synagogue - Europe's Largest

Laura and our Little Boy

A Day in the Countryside

186 Years - Equally Divided

Local Swimming Pool

Final drink with Ruth & Gary


As I suggested before signing off on arrival in Budapest the lawn has needed mowing. Life did not take long to resume its normal routine and demands and it is only now that I have a few hours in which to return to the blog and give a short run down on Budapest and to try to sum my thoughts on the trip.

Budapest, I had been told, is a wonderful City. After 10 days there I can only echo those words. We are not by nature ‘city’ folk but here was an exception. The panorama created by the Danube as it curves its way between hilly Buda, with its fortifications and churches, and Pest with its Imperial buildings is exceptional. Historically there is much to see including insights into its existence under both the Nazis and the Communists. Museums are everywhere and music lovers will be more than content. During our time there we witnessed many ‘live’ events from rock music to flame dancers. The food was wonderful and many of the restaurant localities have a good buzz about them. Transport cannot be forgotten: trains, trams and buses are excellent and coordinated – and for me as a EU pensioner they are free!! We had an extra holiday there whilst resting at a campsite near to the centre. It was a typical city centre site, a little crowded at times but with good facilities, and people coming normally for 2 or 3 days. With our 10-day stay we soon became senior citizens to whom other cyclists would come for advice! Around the tent we soon gathered a bench and chairs and for a table we had the plinth of a stone statue of a young boy – such luxuries. We have many memories of Budapest, mine strangely will be Sue’s birthday celebrated with a romantic meal on a moored boat on the Danube, seeing the sun set and the evening light of the city coming to life – the picture I have of Sue with 2 other 62 year old lady cyclists sitting on our bench by our tent. Both of the other ‘old birds’ were lone cyclists, Efrieda from Germany and Hannah from Holland. The site had many characters, some a little sad but most seemed to have chosen a different life style that allowed them to indulge in their joy of travelling. More interesting was a younger lady – naturally – Laura from Madrid. Highly entertaining, very talkative, and determined to experience as much as she could. A self-employed clothes designer by trade, her cyclical work allowed her to spend considerable time travelling, again alone, and I am sure she has raised the spirits of many a traveller. And then just before we left Budapest up popped Ruth & Gary whom we have not sighted for 5 weeks since Osselle on Le Doubs. They in fact had gone beyond Budapest into Serbia but had returned by train as the roads were so poor and the driving so bad!!

Now to my thought and memories looking back on a vacation that was unlike anything we have undertaken before. It is difficult to put into words, statistics are easy 61 days away and 41 in the saddle, 3300 kilometres, 6 countries, 5 rivers etc but they fail to convey the experience. I have a memory of wonderful unfolding scenery, ever changing and rarely dull, but always with the thread of a river running through. The sense of a ‘thread’ grew stronger as time passed and we moved further into the centre of Europe; a thread of early commerce, of movement of peoples and cultures across the lands, and of the artificial and temporary nature of national borders. I also have memories of a simple life bereft of the complexities of our normal existence – there was only Sue and me to worry about and if have not hacked it after 38 years we have a problem.

Our passage up the Loire was in large part a repetition of a trip 2 years ago but somehow it was very different and thoroughly enjoyable. The link to the Rhine along the canals and the Saone and Doubs rivers was a revelation with both gentle and breathtaking scenery – an area to visit in future especially Besançon. Switzerland met up to my expectations beautiful, neat and well organised – Basel was very enjoyable. The ride across from the Rhine to the Danube was a one of the more challenging periods of the journey and was followed by a lovely period of coming down from the Black Forest alongside a small and almost lonely small Danube. Before we started the ride I had a vision of the mature Danube flowing through wide plains of open land, in part this was the case but only in part. The river passes through several lines of hills or mountains, providing periods of narrow valleys and gorges. The unfolding and ever changing scenery was a joy. The towns and cities also should be mentioned, each often clearly showing its cultural identity from afar with distinctive spires and towers. Many have retained their historic centres or, for those ravaged during the War, have undergone significant restoration. The variations in national wealth were most clearly evident here, from the opulence of the German Danube towns to those still emerging from the stagnation of the Communist era. Whoops, I’m becoming carried away here!

Many have commented since our return about the size of our achievement: covering such a great distance, carrying such a load, camping, and of being away for such a period. For me the most significant point was deciding to do it – if there was any ‘bravery’ that was it. The actual journey was no a hardship or struggle in any way, yes there were times of tiredness, a little exhaustion, temperature extremes, but all these were temporary in nature. Normally half an hour after the end of a day’s ride we were back to normal and whilst not raring to go we were on our feet enjoying life. We had a few bike problems and were fortunate sometimes in how easy it was to have them fixed. Our largest piece of fortune was the weather, had we of travelled last year it would have been a different tale. Over 8 weeks we had 3 or 4 splurges of rain, a couple of chilly days and it must be said a few very hot days (up to 38oC!). That apart we seemed to here tales of rain, thunder storms, hail storms either ahead of us or behind us – we seemed to travel in our little fair weather bubble. The previous year had been a time of severe flooding along the Danube caused by many days of heavy rain – what a different tale that might have been.

Will we do it again? I missed it on my return and now looking back would happily do a repeat, but there are other places to see. Whether it will be for such a long period I will wait and see but there are other things in life apart from sitting on the saddle of a velo. One thing for sure if there are more blogging is unlikely to be included – too many strains on the 38 year old relationship!



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