Hungry in Hungary, back in the saddle, and a dead end!

We were very excited to be back on the bikes again, leaving Budapest! The whole region is having a heat wave, so we slathered up with sunscreen and headed out to the EuroVelo 6, south towards Serbia! Opposite from the way to Paris! Our initial idea was to get out of town and then follow the country roads to Lake Balaton, a very popular lake for swimming, boating, and fishing. A little detour but it looked really nice!

The EuroVelo 6 was easy to find, and we followed the Danube for quite a while, and then headed off onto quiet roads through suburbs and farms.

OpenStreetMaps has bicycle routes listed, and we planned to follow this one route that paralleled a railway. It slowly deteriorated to a path through the shrubs. It got worse and worse, but never so bad that we decided to turn around and take the 10km detour we’d have to take. But soon we were walking over thorn bushes one foot deep, and weed whacking our way through this badly maintained “bicycle route”. We were starting to get frustrated and nervous, drenched in sweat in the 100°F heat and nearly out of water.

When the trail disappeared, we were forced up against this rail line, where cargo trains and high-speed commuter trains zipped by every 10 minutes. It was too dangerous to continue, and we were scared and exhausted. The trains came by so fast they must have been going 100mph. But there was no way we wanted to cut our way backwards through 2 kilometers of brush and 10km of roads to go around.

So we sat in the underbrush watching the trains go by and making a plan. After a 15 minute rest in the brush, I looked on Google Maps satellite view and saw that if we climbed over a steep hill, there was a field on the other side, and then a road going in the right direction. I scrambled up the hill to check, and sure enough the road was there! We had to take turns carrying the bikes up the steep incline, me holding the front wheel and Steve pushing from behind. But after half and hour and 3 trips up and down the hill, we were home free, pushing our brand new, now scratched bikes across the field, along with a hundred scratches on our arms and legs from all the thornbushes we’d pushed our way through! The most mentally difficult day of our trip so far, even more than the most intense days cycling through India, and who would have guessed it would be in Hungary?

The next town had a local beer shop with a burger restaurant next door, and we planted ourselves there for two hours recovering our strength and changing our plans. Luckily we never plan out more than a day at a time, so it was easy to do something different.

We decided to skip Lake Balaton and head north to join the EuroVelo6 towards Bratislava and Vienna. Lake Balaton seemed to have little to no accommodations under 250€ per night, and we didn’t want to take the chance of showing up to an overbooked vacation resort area and not find a place to stay, even the campgrounds were questionable. Plus we were missing seeing other cycle tourists, so we aimed our path north towards Bratislava.

The Hungarian countryside was an odd but delightful mixture of eclectic, modern, and traditional. At times we felt we were cycling by California freeways and industrial shipping plants. At other times it was quaint villages with beautiful traditional houses. And other times we saw whimsical decorations like this one. The Hungarian people were, on a whole, welcoming and friendly, and we really enjoyed being off the beaten track here.

A few bears with the UNESCO Pannonhalma Archabbey in the background. We later walked up to the Abbey, and I tasted some local wines. The atmosphere of the local village was more interesting to me than the Abbey itself, but the walk up and the views are stunning.

Our homestay had this adorable momma kitty, visibly pregnant, and super loveable. She shared our evening meal of local sausages and cheese. Sleeping that night was nearly impossible; this region gets hot weather maybe one or two weeks per year, so there were no fans and definitely no air conditioning! Yet the homestays are 4x what you’d pay in Thailand. We began to think about returning to camping, now that we have our tent and camping gear back!

Another view of the archabbey.

One last photo of Hungarian food, this time a maybe-French-inspired cordon blue dish made with local cheese and pork, and coated with paprika bread crumbs, all friend in lard. The perfect calorie-rich lunch for a cycling trip.

Leaving Hungary, we made our way towards Bratislava, Slovakia, a country and a city we knew little about but would really enjoy…

3 Replies to “Hungry in Hungary, back in the saddle, and a dead end!”

  1. Inspiring story as always. When backed into a corner I’m always reminded of scene from the famous Bruce Lee movie Enter The Dragon. Bruce was fighting off the bad guys but found himself backed into a corner and an impossible situation. His solution, just sit down. Like you, he found a way out. Anyway, I’m very fond of Bratislava and have two very good friends that live there. Let me know if you need a contact. Ride safe be safe! Hugs!

    1. You’re right, it works! Thanks James for your comment and your support! We’ve already left Bratislava, but I would return in a heartbeat. We would love to meet up with your friends next time.

  2. Wow!! Now I know why I have had restless sleep for a couple of nights. What an adventure.

    Mom Carnes

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