Hungary 29th – 30th May

We left the weird campsite in haste the next morning and were pleased to accidentally be charged half the amount. 200 metres down the road karma thoughts kicked in. We continued. Too far down the road to turn back, karma thoughts really kicked in. Damn it. We’re going to hell. The mornings ride was beautiful with paved riverside paths lined with wild flowers guided us to Hungary. The sun was shining and we were in high spirits. Then the paved path ended. We were reduced to a snails pace as we cycled through sludge. Karma. We were in low spirits. We hate taking the roads if there is an alternative but this was just not fun. We took a detour and followed a map app called kamoot. It came highly recommended by many tourers as an alternative to google maps and maps.me and was a good aid until today it decided that the steep forest walking path in front of us was a cycleable road. It didn’t even look like a walking path I would take. Then the heavens opened. Then they really opened. Karma. We took another detour and were faced with some big climbs in the heaviliy pouring rain. We put all the lights we owned on the backs of our bikes and looked like really crap Christmas trees as we slowly pedalled over the border in to Hungary. Cold, damp, and spirits damper, we rolled in to a campsite on the outskirts of Budapest. The campsite had a kitchen so we took advantage of the free fuel and made a slow cooked tomato sauce with red wine and mushrooms. Oh how food can change a mood…

We skirted Budapest as we had been there back in December. It’s an incredible city. We love it. But after Bratislava we were not ready for another stop. We were ready however for langos. The tasty Hungarian lovechild of the doughnut and the pizza. It’s a sweet doughy bread topped with sour cream and cheese and garlic. When not cycling they are a treat, when cycling they are a necessity. We cycled around a beautiful town called Baja until we found a langos seller. The smiley lady at the window was ecstatic at the sound of our groans as we worked our way through more than the average helping of langos. The person behind us in the queue bought us drinks. We had not even communicated with him. What a kind gentleman.

Determined to find a wild camp spot that night, we cycled until late, our legs were getting heavy and the sky was getting darker. Armed with a Google translate paragraph describing our journey and asking for permission to camp, we knocked on the door of a farmhouse. No answer. We shouted. No response. We really shouted. No response. We continued cycling. We settled on a quiet hidden spot next to the cycle path and pitched the tent. A moped passed as we were making home and waved. Being seen when you are wild camping is not ideal. We told ourselves that nobody cared what we were doing and started cooking up. Ten minutes later the moped returned. Uh-oh. After a five minute game of charades we concluded that the moped driver was telling us to go to a campsite 2km’s away. We didn’t want to stay at a campsite that night but thought it probably best to move on after being told to do so. The campsite turned out to be a work in progress, a project by the mayor’s son to provide a spot for locals and tourists to camp next to the Danube for free. The mayor’s son welcomed us and the moped driver smiled in the background, happy with his work of bringing in the first tourists. We camped in the most beautiful spot next to the Danube and cooked up in the dark. We were incredibly grateful the moped driver moved us on that night.

We cycled along some beautiful small roads as we made our way out of Hungary. We were playing games like the alphabet game (real conversation clearly having dried up by now), when we noticed the clouds above us turning darker. We could smell the rain in the air and when we looked behind us we could see the rain falling on the road some 100 metres back. Feeling like we were in Jumanji, we cycled as fast as we could in attempt to outrun rain (sounds so stupid when you write it down). It caught us up (obviously) and it pelted it down. It was rain that hurt. We ducked in to a half built house to wait it out. We did the only thing you could in this situation. Make tea.

Half a pack of counterfeit Hungarian rich tea biscuits later, we realised that in our rain-racing haste, we had missed the bridge that would take us over the Danube to the Croatian border. Arriving at the bridge, something was missing. It was the bridge. A closer look at the map revealed that we had mistaken a ferry crossing for a bridge. Expecting to cross the border, we had left the last town having spent every last Hungarian coin on crap biscuits. The ferry was the equivalent of £2. With no Hungarian currency on us we offered to use our card at the counter. We were met with a shot of nose air by the lady with the power to send us cycling back to the town we had left some 30kms in order to take cash out. We scratched around our bags for lose change. Our emergency euros had been used in an emergency beer situation a few days earlier but we managed to cough up 3 euro coins. Euro coins were accepted but we were 2 short. I’m not sure if it was the fact we were drowned rats, or the fact we literally begged (probably the latter) that helped us, but ferry lady smiled and said in a deep Hungarian accent “Go.” So we went.

At the border, we were asked to show our passports for the first time. A real border crossing! There was only a presence from Hungary, nothing from Croatia in order to enter. The border control officers were clearly bored as they asked more questions about our bikes than they did us. It was getting late at this point and we asked one of the officers if he knew of any campsites across the border. He told us he’d never been to Croatia. I told him if he took two steps left he would be in Croatia. He was not amused.

Watch our 1-minute video of ‘Cycle Touring Austria, Slovakia & Hungary’ here…

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