Monday 30 June 2014

The Road to Budapest

At the end of a day's ride it can be dispiriting to turn up at a campground and find it closed. When you ride on and half an hour later a second campground is closed, then a third, you can begin to wonder if there is a devilish plot.

To make matters worse, we had bought groceries for dinner and the front panniers were loaded with strawberries and apricots, milk, a bottle of wine and other essentials - making the tandem heavy and awkward to handle. Each time we stopped to rattle a forlorn gate, mosquitoes descended on us.

Another campground closed on what is recognised as one of the most delightful sections of the river - the Danube Bend, near Budapest.

As we cycled on, we began to realise what had happened. We were seeing the effects of flooding that occurred on the Hungarian part of the Danube in August last year. We spotted 'For Sale' signs - sometimes on every third house, and we could see where the water had surged up and into gardens, turning once pretty lawns into grassless wasteland.

Storage downstairs, facilities upstairs as a way to beat the floods at this campground.

At our fourth campground, at the town of Szentendre about 20 km from Budapest, we were in luck. Showing some forethought, the owners had constructed most of the facilities, kitchen, showers and so on, on foundations that stood well above any likely flood. As a result, they were still in business. 

Paths and bike trails are underway in Eastern Europe as a way of encouraging more tourists to the area.

The flooding was a reminder to us of just how the Danube effects the lives of people along it. It provides hydro-electricity, allows the shipment of freight, provides tourist dollars from cruise boats, and yes - when it floods, it dumps vast amounts of silt which enable the growing of crops. It also provides an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes - don't forget the repellant.

Arrival in Budapest. Across the river on the Pest side is the parliament building.

Our guide during a walking tour of Budapest pats the stomach of a statue of a policeman to bring herself good luck. Photo: J Yeoman

In the Central Market, Budapest. Photo: J Yeoman

Seller of semi-precious stones, Central Market.

Paprika, Central Market

We met this French couple, Gino and Pascale, on their way to Budapest. They were riding what looked like the Rolls Royce of tandem recumbents, or should that be recumbent tandems. Made in the Netherlands, it was fitted with an electric motor to ease the way up hills. A trailer is towed behind.

We share a drink in Budapest with Gill and Ross, a couple from Adelaide.

The further east we go, the rougher we expect the roads to get.

Um.... Where exactly is the road?

Donkeys and cart, Hungary.

Taken in the main square of Gyor, Hungary.

Lunch stop just inside the Hungarian border. No wine, but the mozzie repellant (yellow bottle) is at the ready.

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