So, after a couple of days staying put in the lush hills of the National Park it was time to pack up and set off again. As mentioned in the last blog we’re heading in the general direction of Budapest to meet up with Katie and Jo, so southwest was our loose direction for today. When I say loose, we actually spent the morning still in the National Park but going south to Eger about 40km away. From some research we’d done, Eger looks like a nice town, so seemed a good place to start our proper journey in Hungary. The temperature this morning was definitely hotter than it has been so far on our trip. We have had great weather for the majority of our time from as far back as Oslo when it was 25 degrees, through Poland where it got to about 28 – 29 degrees, but this was different. At 10am it was already about 28 degrees! We have followed the weather reports of the heatwave in the UK and been quite glad that, for the most part, that we have had it cooler, but that looks to have changed…
The cycle through the National Park was, once again, very pleasant although the traffic was definitely building especially as we got nearer Eger. The drivers here are much more pushy than anywhere we’ve been so far and they have gotten a bit too close on more than one occasion already. Our defence is to cycle a bit further out from the edge of the road so that they can’t squeeze through when a vehicle is coming in the other direction – seems to work most of the time.
Made it to Eger fairly early as there were some nice stretches of gradual downhill for us to speed along. We even managed to squeeze in an ice cream break to cool us down on the way – the best ice cream we have had on our entire trip to date! The centre of town is very nice with a large old church and a castle, plus a number of eateries from which we had a range of decent choices for lunch. Had a lazy ‘daily menu’ lunch which was very good and on a par with Poland for it’s excellent value.
Out of the town in the afternoon and the temperature was up somewhere between 33-35 degrees. We sweated our way across some low hills for another 30km or so until we decided we had had enough for a sweltering day. Found ourselves a suitable place to stay in the tiny village of Verpelet…a very nice bungalow, which we had all to to ourselves. We have however nicknamed the village “dogsville” as there was a constant a cacophony of barking/howling from the many dogs in the neighbourhood every time someone walked/drove past the house. Ear plugs at the ready for the night – which is just as well we did as one dog in particular, that just happened to be our next door neighbour, basically barked and howled every half an hour for much of the night! This of course set other dogs around the town off which kept them all at it over and over again. Our earplugs were, once again, our saviours and against the odds we managed to get a reasonable night’s sleep.
We made the most of the kitchen for breakfast and had a bit of a lazy get up, which meant that we weren’t out the door until almost 10am which is almost unheard of at the moment. We skirted south of yet another National Park, the MatraiTajvedelmi korzet, in the foothills of some mountains, which meant that the cycling was relatively hilly and as the temperature was yet again in the low thirties, very sweaty! We waved goodbye to the big hills at this point as we won’t be seeing anything like this for a few weeks now.
The main road into Gyongyos is closed to bikes and we had to take what is laughingly labelled a bike path, see the picture below. Obviously the person who decided that this is a bike path has never been on a bike! This went on for a couple of kilometres before it smoothed out and we made it into town….
…which has absolutely nothing there after all that effort! Perhaps this is why the bike path is so bad to try to put you off going into it! We did manage to find a park in which to mix with the locals (mainly drunks) and have our lunch, but that was about it.
We decided at this point to make for a campsite 40km west. We were out of the mountains, but not out of the hills and it’s was an unexpectedly tough afternoon. It is likely that we found it so tough because of the temperature and we were drinking loads of water. A chap in a posh car pulled up alongside us on the road for a chat as he was interested to know where we’d been etc and he remarked that his car was telling him it was 33 degrees…..as if we needed reminding! He loves bikes and has four of his own and it was really nice to have someone’s just randomly stop because he was interested in what we were doing. Just after this we found a nice spot in a park for a break, next to what I can only describe as totem poles. We’ve seen these in most of the villages and towns around here, but are uncertain what they are. Must ask a local when we see one after Budapest when we meet up with Martina’s Hungarian friend Eva!
The afternoon was also spent watching some big blue/grey clouds building around us, with the odd rumble of thunder thrown in. We did get rained on at one point, but it was warm rain and we decided that the wet gear could stay where it was, in its bag! We dried out soon enough after it’d stopped.
We found the campsite, which is run and mainly occupied by Dutch folk. Nice rural location and the Dutch know how to camp (and behave on campsites!) which is great. We did have a brief rain shower after we’d set the tent up but that passed and we had dinner sat outside. A Dutch chap and a few others who were there for the Hungarian Grand Prix came over for a chat about our bikes and what they had been up to in the area. Always nice to chat with fellow campers! There were hundreds of crickets all chirping away as we went to bed along with the barks of a few local dogs (Another question for Eva – is Hungary the land of the barking dog?).
A normal get up and we were out of the campsite into yet more blistering heat by 9:30. The plan was to head west to Vac which sits on the banks of the Danube. Nice enough, if uneventful ride, through agricultural land, rolling hills and small villages. We had read that Vac is a nice old town and it turns out that this is true, but it was very quiet and not many people were around, which is a bit surprising considering it’s position on the river. Perhaps because it’s not far from Budapest that no one bothers to go there. We found a nice place for lunch and both opted for a chicken dish which was a nice change as we haven’t had chicken for ages – and again it was excellent value for money.
After lunch we took a small ferry across the Danube to an island in the middle of the river, cycled across the island itself and then joined the bike path on the western bank. We’d spotted a campsite on Google that positions us well for the short hop into Budapest tomorrow…
Got there early enough for a dip in the pool to cool off after our sweaty cycle.
Comedy picture of our time in Hungary so far – not too sure if this chocolate bar would catch on in the UK…but Balaton is a lake in Hungary, so is this something you get when you swim in it…or when you just laze about there?? Time will tell I guess as we are Balaton bound next week!