Blue skies this morning on Valentines day, a great day to visit the Citadel and admire the cityscape, but I must head south down the Danube to Belgrade.
My first mistake was following the cycle path signs out of Budapest, must have walked for a couple of km on melting snow.
At lunchtime I found highway 51 and finally started going somewhere. Although later in the early evening when I start thinking about good wild camping territory I headed back to the dyke near Szalkszentmarton, as I guessed unrideable but I pushed the bike along a little way and was rewarded with a magnificent barn, slowly crumbling away.
There was just enough roof left to provide shelter for little me. Nightmare trying to light the stove. A curse of petrol stoves is they can get blocked. So spent an hour shaking it, unscrewing bits, testing it, cleaning it, just as well I brought the instructions. When I finally got it working daylight had almost disappeared. Cooked up a buttery tuna, red pepper and pasta medley, decent combo. Hands stank of petrol, but not much I could do about that. Cycle towards Baja tomorrow, the Hungarian/Serbian border I think. I’m now using my German guide book, which is incomprehensible to me.
The barn thankfully didn’t collapse last night, although it really should sometime soon. Made the porridge and chocolate muesli combo I said I would never make again, but just realized I need to use up some food. I’m carrying three different choices for breakfast, which is a little unnecessary. I stayed off the cycle path all day on highway 51, with some little detours through the villages. In Solt I managed to send my redundant gas stove and credit less phone back to UK. Very surprised in only cost 300ft, about £1, we shall see if it gets there.
Tried to get rid of some Hungarian currency, I’ve got too much and need to spend it before I cross the border in 1-2 days from now. Got some ham, girl was initially a little confused by the English speaking international cyclist pointing but soon gave me my ham, sliced too, tasted great! I think I’ll try and get some more tomorrow. Took detour back to cycle path in the early evening, in search of some forest. I wasn’t disappointed. Couldn’t get stove working, which was a little annoying, patience ran out after a couple of hours of cleaning and trying to light it. So it was wafers, ham and yoghurt for dinner. Instead of the egg, potato, onion and ham medley I was planning, while my eggs are still in one piece.
Temperature must have dropped last night, snow is hard and white frost on the trees. Didn’t attempt to light stove in the morning after last night. I was just packing up the tent, defrosting my frozen tent pole when I had a visitor. Another Robin came to say hello, or more likely nibble the cereal I dropped at breakfast.
Remarkably, not scared of me at all. I stood and watched a while, no-one else came. Cycled back along the dyke to the village of Fokto, then back to the highway. Needed to spend some Hungarian change, so stopped for a coffee on the way into the village of Ersekscanad, fresh coffee cost me 2.10 ft, about 70p! Incredible. I took the opportunity while in the warm to put my multitool back together for the nth time. It was getting on for lunchtime and the lorry drivers on the next table looked like they had some good soup so I ordered some Hungarian goulash soup, very good with plenty of bread for only £2.
In the afternoon I cycled onwards to the town of Baja. Here I met my first Hungarians in Hungary, a retired couple out hiking along the river in the snow with their hiking poles. I guessed they asked me where I was from, although they couldn’t recognise where I was going, so I showed them on my world map. I think I understood the international sign of palm tapping the forehead correctly as, you must be crazy. Next they wanted to know where I was sleeping, when I motioned I was camping, they were a little worried the camp sites may be closed in winter and kindly pointed me in the direction of a youth hostel I didn’t know about. They wished me good luck.
It was still early so I followed the cycle path out of Baja, as it heads towards the border and Croatia (with my German guidebook I hadn’t realised I would cycle through Croatia until now!). Cycled through a village called Szeremle where upon my second Hungarian in Hungary stops to enquire where I’m from and where I’m heading. He was an old chap cycling in the opposite direction on an antique looking single speed. Was really surprised when he spoke good English. Again I showed him on my world map where I was heading. It’s always quite funny observing the surprise on people’s faces. He told me about a festival in Mohacs across the river on my route to the border. They have a festival in Mohacs to celebrate the end of winter and the start of spring. It seems a little early, but we’ll see. He was also curious, don’t I get bored cycling! which is a very good question. So far no boredom hasn’t been a problem, there’s always something to look at, something to think about or I’m just listening to the local radio. We shook hands and I bid him farewell.
I realised when showing him the map to Mohacs that there is no bridge, you need to take the little ferry across the river. Most annoying as I spent my last Forints in Baja buying petrol for the stove, bread, ham and milk. It looks like I’ll be going mapless hunting for a bridge to cross the river further downstream or I suppose I could head back upstream looking for a bridge tomorrow.
Found a camp spot in forest before Dunafalva. Mid-afternoon, so put the tent up to air, hung sleeping bag and mat in the tree’s. Tried stove with new petrol, it must be super clean after last nights session. It worked!! So it looks like it must have been a pressure problem with not enough fuel in the bottle. Finally, I’m able to cook up my 5 egg, potato, onion, ham, salami, herb medley.
Worth the wait. Although one egg didn’t survive the ride in the panniers and coated a lot of things, thankfully the earl grey tea bags avoided the eggy mess.
Decided to head downstream this morning, highway to the border was deserted clearly nobody making the trip from Hungary to Serbia on a Wednesday lunchtime.
Serbian border guards were very friendly, at least one must have been in his 20’s. In fact they all came over to see where this international cyclist was from and where they were going in the middle of February. On the way into the village a couple of folks even said hello.