Day 16 – Across the Great Hungarian Plain

I awoke to a wet and overcast sky- yes! After being cooked yesterday, I welcomed the change in weather. And what a dramatic change; whereas yesterday it was in the low 30s, today it would reach only 17 degrees!

South of Budapest there is a 50km long island, called the Csepel-sziget, which separates the main Danube from a smaller eastern arm of the river. The cycle path follows the eastern arm of the river, between houses and the riverside, looking onto the island. The houses appear to be weekend homes, and many could best be described as cabins. But this is a fisherman’s paradise. Every 10 or 20 metres there is a fishing platform, with somewhere to lauch your boat. 30km or so of fishing heaven, where peace and solitude are the order of the day. You get the impression that there is rarely any excitement here, other than if someone lands a specimen carp. Even today, with an unpleasant wind blowing from the river, there was a great amount of fishing activity. Well, hardly activity, they were just sitting there.

I took it easy this morning – well had little choice really as the surface of the track was poor, but that was no harm. Stopped for lunch at Rackave, the gateway town to the island. And to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s difficulties on the bike, sat down to a big feed of pasta- that set me up for the day.

The afternoon cycle took me across a very flat landscape- I was now entering the Great Hungaria plain where hills of any kind are in short supply. At one stage I looked around 360 degrees only to see flat and dull landscape stretching to the horizon.

The villages here all have much of the same character, a church at the centre then streets leading from there in a grid pattern. They don’t seem to do curves very much, but nice to see there are still many Trabants on the road. And there never seems to be much happening once the women have done their shopping.

I am struck how many collared doves there are in the villages. It was from this part of the world that in the 1950s collared doves spread there wings and began to colonise northwest Europe, arriving in Ireland sometime in the 1960s. It is also nice to hear Great Reed Warbler singing in the reeds- always reminds me of a sedge warbler on steroids.

There is not much wild land in these parts, it is all fairly intensively farmed. I did however stop at a few places along the way, but didn’t see much for it was cool and windy. At one stage I took to photographing grasshoppers, and testing how many hops it takes to tire a grasshopper. I reckon after about four it is easier to photograph at least the bigger ones! Of course this is not proper research; you never know if they tire or they just stop playing this silly game.

Rest of the day was uneventful, just covering the distance. Stopped for the evening in small town, Harta, somewhere in the middle of the Great Hungarian plain. Walked from where I was staying to the centre of the town for something to eat. It was a beautiful evening and a song thrush and blackbird were in full song- sounded almost like home except they were joined by a serin and black redstart. I’ve come a long way to hear a serin and black redstart, I thought.