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Day 49 – 54 [12/11-17/11] Budapest Tokol Rackeve Solt Baja Suza Odzaci

November 24, 2010


  • Inner tube, brake cable protectors + allecat sticker for spare defunct handlebars.
  • 6 pastries bought with 200 forint which was found in an illegal bar

Up at 9am and attempt to find everything we’ve distributed in the flat over the past week.  The niggling feeling that something has been left behind somewhere ever present. To the supermarket to pick up supplies a lady in dressed in a traditional Swiss outfit hands us some free chocolate samples as we devour a few rolls wandering the aisles deciding what to eat back on the road.

The long list of things to do in Budapest has decreased a little but is far from complete.  I wanted to review the projects I am doing on the trip check some nutritional info of the food we’re eating and start making some headway on masters application but they’ve all fallen by the wayside.

A last trip to the bike shop and a warm goodbye from our hosts mum and we start our exit of the city during rush hour.  The car rules in Budapest bikes are bottom of the pile and one driver gets a little hot headed and brushes past.  We’re learning lots of things this trip and not leaving a city at rush hour is a new one on the list.

Pick up cycle lane out of the city which is peppered with holes. After a couple of camp spot searching attempts we strike lucky with the 3rd after encountering some angry dogs on a swamp area and a graveyard.  Finding camp in darkness is hard, everything is distorted and your fears are more apparent.  Still we’ve found a corker or so it seems, all will be revealed in the morning.

Morning brings quite a scene – a small dilapidated outhouse containing artifacts of someone staying there, for how long we don’t know – pair of glasses, letters, photos strewn around and a dead bird.  Outside dolls and clothing rotted and mixed together.  I felt a bit like a police photographer documenting a scene and trying to paint a picture of what happened.  Perhaps we pick more camp spots when it’s dark makes it a bit more mysterious.

On the Eurovelo ( a +2000km bike route which runs from the Atlantic to the Black Sea) a hunting lorry turns up with all the animals hung on the outside (Pheasants Hares and a Fox!), the hunters pick up their prizes and head off inside.

The road is flat, straight and a bit boring.  We’re meant to be meet Loci for a final meal near the Serb border so taking it easy.  Calculations for the rest of the trip we need to do 50kms to reach Kathmandu by the end of June.

Sit on an overturned boat and eat some lunch overlooking the Danube.  A solo tourer with a trailer appears at the roadside and comes over to chat.  He looks more weathered than us but began his trip from France around the same time.  Matthias is doing a trip very similar to ours so we decide to camp together after picking up some beers from our favorite place Lidl. Over camp we chat excitedly about music, our trips and who we are.  He’s really great and shares a lot of our interests so we’re going to cycle together for the next few days.  Matthias makes us a pile of sandwiches whilst I prepare the dinner.

Wake at 6.30 to the sound of some noisy animals  and a loud bell resounding through the village.  Matthias has coffee so we keep our tea for a rainy day it’s instant but tastes better than tea without milk.  An ant like tractor holds us up as we depart feeling as though we’re part of a cycling club.

Matthias mentioned he has no brakes last night and we find out he’s not lying as he sails into me whilst I stop for directions – we dub him the French missle.  Cross the Danube on a mesh bridge overlooking some relaxed fishermen – one with a rod twice as long as his compatriots.  It’s Sunday and we’ve forgotten to get supplies – maybe we’re not learning as much as I thought on the trip.  Luckily some friendly people in the village point us in the right direction.  We dine on dusty picnic table after a good innings in the morning – porridge is the wonder breakfast.

We’re slightly conscious that we need to be pushing on so back on the bikes along the dyke.  Onto Lidl with our empty beer bottles to get a re-investment into tonight’s beverages.  Camp just off the dyke the sky looks like a grey and purple layered cake and then turns into a beautiful deep red sunset.  Play some At the drive in and dubstep and manage to step on the stove, luckily he’s fine, strong Swedish design.  Bed at 9ish but can’t sleep so spend the night drawing.  The stars shine brightly my entire vision is filled with bright white specks and the odd streak from a shooting star.

We push each other along in Tour de france style, sharing the front end to allow the others behind to rest from the harsh head wind.  An Austrian couple stops and chat about their hunting trip with falcons as we fill up our water bottles from a roadside water pump.  Lidl again, Matthias thinks we are obsessed with this supermarket, we joke about getting sponsorship and I look at my yellow panniers prime and ready for a Lidl logo.

In Batya the village is full of dried pepper and chilli racks some houses have huge bags hanging from the roof.  We stop and an Old lady comes out to sell us a ring of Chillis to make supper more interesting, even manage to barter her down.

The road is long and boring to Baja and we lose Matthias as we stop at a petrol station.  Luckily we find him again and look for a camping spot in just outside of Baja in an area full of houses in various stages of being built.  We decide to camp inside one and find a floor with soft sawdust and some benches made from planks of wood perfect for a tired cyclist.  With no windows or doors we get a great view outside as it gets darker and people drift past in their cars.  Creamy pork meal and pasta for dinner, super tasty.

Up at 6.30 as people head to work.  We have been undisturbed and no one is arriving to begin working on the building so pack up cook some breakfast.  The early start feels good especially with night setting in at about 4pm.  We speed along the Eurovelo over a plethora of different surfaces dirt smooth road and lots in between.

We pass some riverside huts and grab a ferry across the Danube to Mohacs.  Pick up some bike bits from a shop where Heinz Stucke has visited –Began his trip at 20 and has done 300,000kms so far, he’s an absolute legend.

At the Croatian border our passports are decorated with their first stamps.  The process feels a lot more official than anything we’ve gone through up till now and is vastly more exciting if only for the small black stamp in our little purple books.

Stop for lunch on a concrete supporters stand at the end of a football pitch and then head through the wine making region of Croatia, with vast tracts of vineyards spread across the landscape.  Up the first hill for a long time I spot a lorry piled high with husks of sweetcorn and look for a sly way of grabbing a few.  Theyre all completely dried, we’re way past harvest so these must be used to feed animals during the winter.  In the next village we get taught that Thankyou is Hula in Croatian as we buy some beers for tonight.

After trying to ask a local if we could camp in the local village and receiving a slightly confused response.  I think people think we’re asking if there is a camp site.  We find a local football pitch with some kids playing in the last of the light, hang around until they go home for dinner and then set up our tents just off the pitch. We try to get our tents positioned in just the right place so they benefit from pockets of warm air hovering just over the surface.

People are more ‘wavey’ in Croatia than anywhere else we’ve been.  It gives you a great feeling to wave at people for them to smile and return the communication.  Farmers honk their horns and grin at our overloaded bikes.

The mist this morning is stunning and makes the landscape look magical and we see all sorts of esoteric things on our journey to Osijek a city which sits alongside a tributary for the Danube.  We see a mock castle being built at the roadside, a whole array of straw animals, little wooden watch towers in people’s front gardens and a small car made from a lawn mower engine.

Our Lidl radar is honed in the city and we stock up on supplies including 1kg of chocolate wafer biscuits for 2  quid packed full of sugar and then come wrapped in packets making them look like wads of notes.  I wait nervously at the Croatian/Serbian border as the guard intently looks at every page of my passport under the blue light to check if its real.  I have an older version of the passport, still in date but without the chip the other two safe on the other side of the border have in theirs.  After a few more games on and more passport analysis I’m allowed to go through.  If this is Serbia what’s Pakistan or central Asia going to be like!

We make it through to the Serbian side and tell a few white lies to the guards about the not having any alcohol or multivitamins(!) In our bags.  On the Serbian side the buildings ravaged by the recent war are instantly apparent and the atmosphere seems more somber.  Horse-drawn carts and poorer infrastructure are the also some initial things we pick up.  An old lady stops off at the water fountain in the next village and fills her large tank up before giving us a smile and hobbling off her dog in toe.  Despite a somber atmosphere the people seem to be warm and friendly.

We head off into the night the border fiasco means we eat a quick lunch and are looking for somewhere to camp in the pitch black again. The towns we pass through a much more lively and you could imagine in the summer this place having a real buzz.  We stop off at a farm with no forest cover in our immediate sight and the prospect of groveling to the landowner.  The guy is kind enough and we joke about Arsenal and Buckingham Palace as we try all different combinations of tent, field one night we make camp.  We even use Matthias’s picture book to no avail other than Novi Sad is 50km is that way and the town we have just past through is back the other.  Perhaps he understood and didn’t want us camping on his land, although I doubt it.  We’re not getting anywhere with our tent signs made by putting your hands together to form a triangle so we cut out losses and bid farewell.  We find a campsite just off the main road amongst some apple trees as the rain begins to fall from the sky.

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