Cycle Touring Hungary – Cycling East Pt6

We cycle toured into Hungary from Slovakia late on a Sunday night after a long hot day of riding through peaceful rolling hills.

The detour from the car race we spectated at in Slovakia was pretty hilly and tough going. He final village of Dlha Ves was closed up, there was a slightly run down but handsome town hall and a chap opposite us who would walk one direction, stop, walk another, stop, then he stood in the middle of the road dead still for a while, we left quickly after eating some melted chocolate wafer biscuits. The border sign was a bit of a surprise , we had no idea what Hungary in Hungarian is, it turns out it’s quite different – Magyarorszag!
The Hungary border towards Aggtelek was also up yet another hill! We stopped for a breather just past a huge open cast quarry, it in full production filling up an endless row of railway carts with some aggregate. This whole area is the Hungary & Slovakia UNESCO world heritage site for the limstone geology and caves. It is called Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst and worth a visist.

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Literally 100m past the sign was a quaint campsite, Nomad Baradla, next to the UNESCO national park with an elaborate network of limestone caves. These caves extend for miles under ground here and they are pretty amazing from what we saw. There is a marathon length race through them later in the year if anyone’s tempted! This picture was the vintage sunset across hay meadows with two tractors parked up.

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After a pleasant overnight stop we set off early to Miskolc catch a train back west into  Budapest. The relentless daily cycling, heat and the recent hills have been tough so we planned our first two days off the bikes in Budapest.
The ride into Muloic was pleasant until we hit the main road and the industrial plants of this region. Large trains of tankers heading to Austria past us by alongside vast skylines of chimneys. There was no alternative but put our heads down and get to the train station in between the traffic! It might be seen as cheating catching the train but we wouldn’t detour west to Budapest than by train so it would have been a shame to have missed a great city. The picture below is the train station where we arrived into Budapest!

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The train itself was a well used piece of machinery, maybe a Soviet remnant, either way it was incredibly hot in the cabins as we drifted west at the heady speed of 75kph! Loading up the bikes onto the goods car was tricky with high steep steps and no assistance!

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In Budapest the attractions are well spaced out so it suits a bike tour which we did cruising the streets looking for a cheap and bike safe hostel, finally after much navigation and epic stair climbing (why are hostels always at the top?) we found the Hobar Hostel and a large private room with bike storing space, it was the same price here as a normal dorm room bed, so we hit the jackpot.
We explored the local bike and ice cream shops later in the day before some well earned cake!

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We were looking in bike shops as we still would like a new tyre, just one a bit wider for Ed’s bike and to swap out his 25mm for Marion’s rapidly wearing out 23mm front. The issue is that our worn out Conti Gatorskins are better than a cheap Chinese tyre, which is the option that most places sell so we struggled to find any acceptable 28mm widths. Otherwise it should be noted both bikes have been fine with no issues for a week or so other than the Slovakia puncture.

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We visited the grand Budapest Museum in the picture above, to learn about the city and Hungary. I rather ashamedly know very little about the history of this area and cycling through provides a great excuse to read up on it. Hungary had always struck me as a grand old country fallen on hard times and certainly that seemed the case. The Trianon treaty after WW1 left only a fraction of the country and Soviet rule post WW2 seems to have had its universally negative impact. The country in the EU seems to be growing again which makes their prominent right wing and anti EU faction’s seem as ridiculous as the UK independence party. We also attended an interesting exhibit on how the Chinese consulate helped Jews from across Europe escape to Shanghai, it was the sole port where no entry visa was needed in the early 1940s.

On our first rest day in the city it rained solid all day. We visited just one bath house but it was amazing. The colossal gallert hotel has a network of tunnels linking, swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms, natural thermal pools, massage areas and even an outside wave pool! It’s just one of many but well worth a visit with its chic Art Noveau tiled decor.

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The next day we toured the palaces, churches and synagogues that make Budapest so interesting. It also has cheap cake and ice cream which is a winner. This is St Stephens cathedral it is ridiculously OTT with gold everywhere;

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This is just one of many sculptures around the city:

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I also spent both evenings exploring the city while taking night photos. I was also enjoying the weird sensation of riding an unloaded bike. The Tripster felt really strange without any weight, almost awkward to balance.

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Here is the gigantic parliament building at night too,

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I stumbled upon these coloured fountains displaying in time to classical music.

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It was an early start as we caught the train back east to rejoin our route to Romania. The countryside in Hungary was unbelievably flat at an altitude of just 95m most of the time it was like we were back in Holland! It did mean we made rapid progress. It really was a surprise to see no mountains nor rolling hills. <
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As is inherent with cycle touring our plan was yet again thwarted by the unknown, this time the main road A 48 into Romania clearly banned bikes! The next border crossing was 25km south so we took a shot at riding the road anyway. We didn’t get far, the drivers were making a point and not slowing down at all, so we took the next exit south! That meant one more day in Hungary as we headed south to Letavertas. Later that night we found a great wild camping spot in an abandoned orchard, the whole area was alive with Bambi like Fallow deer, which made for a restless night after we heard the first automatic rifle firing at them in the distance. Lying in a tent hearing the parp parp parp of gun fire is up there with my experiences of hearing Grizzly bears pad past my tent!
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It was fine as we were in a sheltered spot per the picture above, however we left promptly in the morning, spending our final HUFs currency before crossing into Romania at Sacueni border.
A new country and a change of scenery yet again, with the iconic Transylvanian mountains lurking on the horizon. Country number 7, Romania is only familiar to me from the shoe boxes of Christmas presents our school sent the orphans in the early 90s, I suspect much has changed.

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