Oct 11-16, Across Hungary,
A good cycle from Timisoara to Szeged, though a bit long and hot, got me back into Hungary where I hoped to find cycle friendly roads. I had to get cell connection again; my dependence on the smart phone mapping is now complete. In the evening, now committed to spending two nights in this attractive University town, I walked the three blocks in to the town centre and stumbled on an excellent restaurant. It is always a lottery when you are just going by looks. At any rate I was relaxed, looking forward to taking a day to get my cycle plans for Hungary together. If I was heading off in the morning then I would be trying to make sure I had all of my act together.
While sitting with an after meal coffee I decided to try my Hungarian sim card. I had bought it just a month ago and had been under the impression that it would need to be renewed after 30 days. It still worked. Maybe it was just under the 30 days. The next day, at Vodafone they told me I had lots of capacity left and that I had a year before it lapsed. Another language goof. Had I known I could have switched the sim cards at the border and ride to my accommodation easily. Oh well, we live and learn, I hope.
Mostly I spent the day on my bike riding around this pleasant town. Of course there is the large an impressive cathedral looking onto its big square called the Dom. On one wall of the Dom is a musical clock that twice a day goes into action. This one representing the University students going to class.
One architectural interest in Szeged are the early 20 th century Art Nouveau buildings. Like all cities of this size there are many attractive car free streets and street cafes. I ate once at a student hangout. It was semi-outside with couches and easy chairs; pizza and hamburgers were on the menu, but I had had a great Hungarian meal my first night here.
My potential route across Hungary was pretty straight forward, but I had lots of options along the way. It was all made attractive in the first place by a five day nice weather forecast. Nice except for the projected a NW wind. Naturally I am headed NW and will have to deal with it.
So Friday morning I got going at about 9:00 and my chosen roads out of town all had good wide bike ways. Finally I headed off onto the small roads that were designated as bike friendly. The head wind was apparent immediately and I was having a hard time getting any speed above 20 kph, a psychological factor for me. But it was a nice ride anyway. A few of the villages that I passed through had Halloween displays. I stopped at a pastry place for a bite near noon, and then had to stop again 10 km later for another energy boost. At about 75 km I looked for and found a panzio. When I checked in the weather channel indicated a 19 kph wind with gusts to 32 kph. It was the gusts that really sapped my energy.
My panzio had a fast food restaurant attached and I had a good time with the waitress and cook figuring out what I was going to eat. They had no English and Hungarian has no similarity to English. So we resorted to our smart phones which got me some pretty good food. Beer (surt) I never have trouble ordering. They were lots of fun.
The next morning, same wind forecast, I got away earlier, at 7:40. The wind has been easiest in the morning. So I had a pretty good morning. The wind is always there, I just have to be satisfied going a bit slower. This has been made a bit easier by the lovely fall colours. My route, on minor roads goes though largely agricultural areas but with large patches of trees that sometimes provide a little wind shadow for me. There are numerous opportunities to stop for fall pictures. I am amazed that there are still lots of roadside flowers to add to my interest.
I am not seeing any interesting birds, I think in part because of the wind, but there is still some harvesting of corn going on.
Near noon I crossed the Danube near Dunafoldvar, about 75 km below Budapest. Part of my route strategy had been to stay away from Budapest but to be close enough that if I wished to change gears and head to the big city I could do that pretty easily.
I considered stopping for the night at the Danube, there seemed to be a number of panzios, but it was too early. I knew that there was going to be an accommodation challenge ahead but the wind was not as bad as yesterday. I found my small road and headed on. As it turned out none of my hopes for early accommodation worked and I ended up in Szekesfeheryar, more than 50 tough kms later.
The next day was Sunday and so I started out on a bit larger road, hoping to go a bit faster. I was hoping the traffic would not be as heavy as normal. It was fine and so I stayed with it for the day. The wind never got much above about 10 kph. My 100 km put me into Gyor at about 1:30, and this was after a lovely lunch just 8 km outside of town. Gyor is on the Danube and the EV6 that I came down on. The Danube heads mostly east through Austria, Slovakia and the top part of Hungary. It then turns south at Eszertgom though Budapest. I have just cut off that turn, missing Budapest. I checked into the same place in Gyor that I stayed in on the way down the Danube. It is a bit expensive compared to what I have been paying in the last month but the food was great. I need one more really good Hungarian meal.
I did spent the afternoon walking around the old town and found a nice tower to climb. Another lovely old town.
In the morning I found the road out of Gyor with a roadside bike trail that EV6 follows. So I was back on the route I came down on a month ago. I would follow EV6 for the rest of the day. It was another lovely fall riding day, the temperature got up to about 22. I went through five or six small towns and one larger one before leaving Hungary into Slovakia as the bike route jumped up onto the dike along the Danube.
Immediately I saw some swans which I had not seen since leaving the river. The wide bike trail on top of the dike also brought out the cyclists, walkers and roller bladers. I only saw a few with full panniers but there are still a few of us out there. If possible the fall is even more impressive along the dike.
Bratislava Castle rises high above the river marking the end of this phase of my trip. The cycle across Hungary was wonderful, even with a headwind. I will now spend some time in Bratislava and likely head to Prague by train for some old capital city time.