(810km - 19days)
11 - 12 July - London – Budapest
We arrived in Budapest and right from the start I was smitten with this beautiful city with its abundance of old buildings, cobbled streets and views of the mighty Danu River. I instantly understood why it is called “the Capital of Architecture”. To this day, it remains one of my most favourite cities.
Hungary is the land of paprika, cabbage and sausage, and the food was delicious and the beer good. In fact, most of the food in Hungary includes paprika in some form or other, from the homey goulash to the Porkolt (meat stew) and Halaszle (fisherman’s soup).
If it were today, I would have lingered longer, but as was my nature I had bees in my bonnet and wanted to get going. As is the case with most “new” cycle tourers, I was destination orientated, and it took me years before I got rid of that habit and enjoyed the touring part of cycle touring, which, in my mind, is what cycle touring is all about.
After a day of exploring we cycled out of Budapest. At first, we followed the famed Danu River past fields of sunflowers and small villages. Our stop was the ancient town of Esztergom where a massive basilica sits on a hill above the town overlooking the Danube River and the 3rd largest church in Europe.
Esztergom’s history goes back many years as it was established around 972 AD and was the birth and coronation place of the first Hungarian King. It was also the capital of Hungary till the 13th century, with the result that there are many of the old buildings are of Royal religious nature.
14 July - Esztergom – Győr – 95 km
It was a scenic cycle along the Danube through countless small villages where one could fill up with water from a well with a hand pump. We cycled past vast fields of sunflowers, making a pretty picture against the cloudless sky.
15 July - Győr and surrounds – 8Okm
16 July - Győr – Papa – 58 km
It was time to leave the river and head in the direction of Lake Balaton. It was mid-summer and stinking hot. Again, it was the friendliness of the people that most impressed us. A local Hungarian man who spoke no English must have noticed us suffering in the intense heat and offered us ice cream and two slices of smoked meat, clearly a priced item in this part of the world. Papa is a historical town with a multitude of old buildings, and the entire town centre is today a protected area. Papa is also famed for its thermal baths, but it was far too hot to try them and instead we went for beer in the historic part of town.
Left lovely Papa for the last stretch of cycling to the lake. It was another blistering hot day and relatively hilly. I had no idea it got that hot in Hungary. Balatonfured is the oldest of the towns situated on the shores of Lake Belton and is another city famous for its spas, but this was no time to visit spas.
19 July - Balatonfüred – Badacsony – 48 km
It was blistering hot, and we only managed to cycle half day. We were relieved to reach the shores of Lake Balaton, where we set up camp and wasted no time at all diving into the lukewarm water of the lake.
20 July - Badacsony – Fonyód – 56 km
The heat remained debilitating, it took the entire day to cycle 35 miles. By then we were cycling in our bathing suits and stopped every now and again for a swim and beer.
21 July - Fonyód – Balatonszeme – 32 km
The campsites, 20 in all around the lake, are all very well equipped all with access to the lake, shops, bars, and restaurants, as well as loads of entertainment, especially for children, waterslides, games, cable skiing, and paddle boats.
22 July - Balatonszemes – Siófok – 32 km
I thought Lake Belatan the closest place to paradise. Blue skies, lukewarm water and no wind, no wonder there were so many tourists around the lake. The lakeshore was very shallow and excellent for just floating around. Shops, restaurants and bars were scattered all around the lake, all adding to a great holiday atmosphere.
23 -24 July - Siófok
25 - 26 July - Siofok – Budapest – 110 km
Once around the lake, it was time to head back to Budapest to pick up my Romanian Visa. It was easy riding, and we got to Budapest in good time.
27 July - Budapest – Kesckemet – 90 km
With passport in hand, we headed in the direction of Romania. It was a pleasant and relaxed ride, with perfect weather for cycling. In Kesckemet we found a campsite in the centre of town, very convenient.
Another easy day of riding on a flat road. We arrived in Szeged, home of the paprika, and what a beautiful town it was. Szeged is located on the Tisza river with an excellent campsite as well as a thermal bath. Hungary is well known for its thermal baths and at the town of Szeged we set up camp and stayed for two days, floating in the warm water of their famous thermal springs before crossing into Romania.