Day 11 – Wednesday 21st September
Vienna, Austria – Budapest, Hungary via Bratislava, Slovakia - 172 miles, total to date = 1,280 miles
No news about the missing wallet so no point in hanging around any longer, we’ve done all we can so we are pushing on now to Budapest in Hungary. Just a lot more aware of how vulnerable we are & how we need to safeguard our remaining debit cards. Takes the shine off our trip a bit.
We emptied our waste water tank & filled up our fresh water tank before leaving the site & then headed off. I planned the route to Budapest to take us out of Austria & into Slovakia on the way to Hungary. The border between Austria & Slovakia is not very far from Vienna & Bratislava, the capital, is only about a 45 mile drive away. No border crossing as such just a European Union sign board to mark the border. Bratislava is quite close inside the border so we were soon driving across the Danube river into the city.
There is an imposing building, presumably a castle, on the hillside above the city & we were struck by the number of police, both in the city & along the roads.. Their presence was noticeable throughout Slovakia both in cars & on foot. We didn’t stop in Bratislava, just followed the satnav directions onward towards Hungary. We did stop off at a Lidls store in Komarno just before crossing the border into Hungary. We bought a few supplies, had our lunch & then logged a couple of geocaches for good measure before crossing back across the Danube once again into yet another new country.
The drive through Slovakia had been uneventful, pretty flat & boring & lacking the forests of trees we have been going through in the last week or so. It appears to be a lot less affluent than its neighbour Austria. Komarno, at the border, did have a more lively feel & it does seem that the border cities in the poorer countries do benefit from their richer neighbours.
Once across the Danube into Hungary the scenery improved with more hills & trees on the sixty miles or so into Budapest. We’d found a camp site close to the centre which turned out to be great as a base for looking round the city. Rather it is two cities split either side of the Danube, with Buda on the West Bank & Pest on the east. As a matter of interest the Danube is the second longest river in Europe at 1,777 miles long. It starts off in the Black Forest in Germany & flows through about ten countries al the way to the Caspian Sea(I think that’s what Wikipedia said).
The great thing for us was that anyone over sixty five can USA the public transport system for free & their system is great with trams, buses & a metro system. After we had settled in & had a cuppa we headed off into the Pest side of the city using a couple of tram rides to get right up into the old city. We had a couple of hours of daylight & were impressed by their spectacular parliament building & also stood on the quay by the Danube where the Nazis had rounded up a group of Jews, shot them & just dumped the bodies into the river. There is a very poignant memorial here consisting of a long line of brass replica shoes fixed to to the quayside.
It was getting dark by then so we hopped the trams again back to the camp site to settle down for the night. I did hear some music late in the evening coming from a restaurant off in the corner of the site so I went over to investigate. There was a large room off the side of the restaurant where it looked like a local dance club were having a session. A group of musicians were playing while the dancers formed lines & danced, Hungarian line dancing no doubt. It looked similar to the Greek style of dancing with people shuffling one way & then back the other. There didn’t seem to be much variation to the steps in the different tunes that were played but everyone was taking it seriously & seemed to be enjoying it. A nice bit of local colour to finish off the day for us.