Day 15 – Budapest after breakfast

I stayed in a campsite in Dömös for it is opposite the ‘Danube Bend’. Now the Danube Bend is a big deal down this neck of the woods, so I checked it out first thing- yes I can confirm that it is a bend, but other that that I have little to report. Seems like they are grasping at straws to promote areas in this part of the Danube.

Today’s spin took me to Budapest, about 50km down river. It is nice to be back following the course of the river. Here there are no dykes or other flood defences, the river is wide and has a gravel shoreline. Certain spots seem to be favourite places for swimming, and everywhere there are fishermen, just fishin’ and chillin’. Fishing seems to be a very popular pastime here.

Early in the day I stopped to explore a bit of the shoreline. There were about a dozen Scarce Swallowtail butterflies flitting by the shore, landing on occasions- they must have been drinking before the day heated up.
Apparently Scarce Swallowtail are a threatened species in Europe so really nice to see these. They are like the common Swallowtail but with a long tail and tiger striping. Also spotted some skippers doing the same; they are difficult little devils to see and identify- they are small and very flighty. Think I saw Grizzled and Dingy Skipper, but I couldn’t be sure.

The rest of the morning was uneventful, the main challenge was to keep to the route. Judging from how they signpost the route, these Hungarians must have a great sense of adventure. Myself, I signed up for cycling not orienteering.

The river becomes an important recreational resource the closer you get to Budapest. Boating and rowing are big here, and the rowing clubs seem to have kiosks by the river where you can have a beer and a snack. Some of the houses here too are nice; nothing ostentatious just comfortable looking. Obviously beside the river is a desirable location.

The cycle way takes you along the river bank, right through the centre of the city, under the chain bridge (which is considered the halfway point of the Danube Trail) and past the magnificent parliament building. This must be one of the most beautiful buildings of Europe. But there was a bit of chaos in the city when I arrived, with much of the main thoroughfare blocked. There was a meeting of the Visegrád 4, a political and cultural alliance of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, taking place and the promenade in front of the parliament building was being readied for the Red Bull Air Show; consequently the city was full of police and cool dudes.

Made it to the southern suburbs of the city for the evening, having first heading off on the wrong cycle path. So it was a choice of risking it on the motorway or doubling back. Took the latter option but it was soul destroying cycling past street upon street of grim apartment blocks, for the second time.

Today was a really tough day on the bike. I was expecting days like this, actually I though I would suffer one earlier on in the trip, so I can’t complain. It was like a training spin, a day long training spin, with the lads from the Kells Angels Cycling Club; unrelenting and unforgiving. Obviously I am tired but I knew from the outset that today would be difficult- I just couldn’t get into any rhythm, which is what cycling is all about. It was exceptionally hot. One of the signs in Budapest said it was 34 degrees; I don’t think it was as warm as that, but it wasn’t far off. I also think I messed up with either not taking enough water or food, or possibly both. And messing up with directions at the end of the day, to cap it off. Very happy to find a guesthouse for the night, and was surprised I still managed to cover 100km.

Two beers, a plate of food and football (Croatia v Argentina) in that order and life was looking up. I think Croatia would be a good bet for the World Cup, and its not a great time for goalies.