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  • Jamie Shannon

Budapest to Romania

I got kicked out of my friends place at 07:00 as he had the landlord coming over to sort out the electricity. I didn’t mind though as I had quite a mammoth task ahead of me having over 1500 km’s to cycle and had only 15 days now to do it in. If I could keep to my 100 km’s per day then I could definitely do it but If I could somehow cycle as much as possible through Hungary where it was flat, and then over the coming days, chip away at it by doing an extra 10 km’s here and 15 km’s there, then I would be afforded a rest day, something that I would no doubt need.

What's it like to cycle tour through Hungary? Pretty dull if you ask me, at least the part I traversed

With so far to go and so much work ahead of me, I set off in dim spirts. I had 175 km’s to the border and from what I’ve heard, it was just flat and monotonous farmland for much of it and so I simply got on with the task at hand. I hoped my mood would improve the next day.

The road south from Budapest was alright, a little busy at times but I can live with that. Just out in the suburbs, and as I was looking at my map, a man stopped to ask if I needed directions and so told him I needed somewhere with internet. He took me to a McDonalds.

With some clear directions, I set off south east along highway 5 but after 15 km’s, this turned into a motorway of sorts thus I took a road on my right that led directly south instead. I thought I might find another road to my right that would take me back to the highway later (It was only a motorway for 15 km’s). This though just didn’t happen however. I was again off the edge of my map and thus had no point of reference anyway and so simply carried on south.

At one small town I did see a sign for a town 8 km’s away to my left which did lead south east but I obviously didn’t know 100% if it would carry on in that direction. I cycled on and stopped at a petrol station to check out the maps inside and to get my bearings but these were all wrapped up. I guess they want you to pay for them. There were four guys in there however and so I asked if anyone spoke English. No one did but they could see I was obviously lost and one of them got out his phone and handed it to me to check out Google Maps. I saw that the road I had passed would indeed take me right back to my preferred route. Bonus! I thanked him and cycled back the way I had came.

I found a nice lake along the way which allowed me to cool off a little. It was scorching! It was a strange blue colour almost as if they added something to the water but as there was no one around to ask I shall never know.

I spent the rest of the day travelling south east along highway 5 just grinding out the km’s. All the way along, there were signs every 5 km’s or so saying tractors, horse drawn carriages and bicycles weren’t allowed here but there were no other roads to take and the traffic was quite light. No one beeped at me and in fact a few police cars drove past but they didn’t seem to mind either.

I made it to within about 5 km’s before kiskunfélegyháza and decided to pull over to make dinner down a small side road. I’m sure the cars were slowing down as they passed, but then again, I suppose I would too if I saw someone making pasta by the side of the road.

By the time I had finished cooking it was getting late. I had cycled quite a bit but my mood hadn’t changed. I decided it was time for some sleep. I waited until I was sure there were no cars coming from either direction and darted into the bushes. I’m hoping tomorrow brings more me happiness.

Maria called when I had set up my tent but I was even too tired both mentally and physically to hold a conversation with her. I’m putting it down to the fact that I only had five hours sleep the night before.

I still wasn’t feeling so well when I woke up the next morning but was definitely better than yesterday with some much needed rest in me.

There were bike paths running alongside the road today which made my life a whole lot easier, smoother too in fact. I was still feeling rather dejected and so took many breaks after which I had to will myself to get back on the bike and start peddling. I think it was the fact that I had such a long way to go and the route I was taking to Istanbul wasn’t really taking me through any interesting cities and so if I got a rest day in, that might even be spent in my tent.

The one great thing that can be said about cycling through Hungary is that every town and village has a communal water tap. This I like.

When I at last neared the last town of Seged my mood lifted and I was beginning to feel much, much better. I even went into a Tesco superstore and bought some fresh milk and chocolate muesli. Not something I would usually carry with me but definitely more exciting than porridge and water.

My friend was right about the city though, it was really nice. I just cycled around it for a bit as I really had to keep pushing on but I did chill in a park by the river for an hour. I felt quite happy to be there.

I saw on my map that there was a bridge across that would bring me to the Romanian border, 35 km’s east and so that was the one I took. I spent about 15 minutes just trying to find the bloody entrance to it though.

I cycled along smaller roads alongside the larger one to my left and a little later, stopped by a tap to fill up my bottles. When I was about to get back on my bike, a lady came over and gave me a full bottle of soda. I had passed here and her child on their bikes a little earlier and so she must have gone home and come back to give me it. Amazing.

A little later, I found a lovely little park complete with benches, toilets and a water fountain. Great stuff. I wouldn’t have to sit under a tree to make my lunch whilst having ants climb all over me and best of all; I had running water to wash everything. Why can’t every lunch stop be like this?

Afterwards, I continued towards the border crossing, taking in a small village on the way where I became a little lost. They just don’t have that many signs in small villages! Upon finding my way out, I re-joined the road and ten minutes later, I was crossing over the border into Romania. Exciting times I thought. It’s true though that they have re-introduced passport control and car checks looking for people with Ak47’s and so it took a while to get through.

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