Friday, August 22, 2008

Adventures in Hungary

Day 331
Esztergom to Budapest
Time: 4:48:00
Distance: 78.2 kilometers
Avg Speed: 16.2 kph
Terrain: Flat
Location: 47 29' 51.63" N, 19 04' 19.28" E

We left Esztergom at our usual time this morning and quickly found the bikeway along the Danube. We snuck out of town under the grandeur of the Basilica, a neoclassical structure that dates back to the 19th century. This area of Hungary actually bears some important and interesting history. From here to Budapest, the Danube Bend area was once a popular place for the kings of Hungary. Way back in time, Esztergom hosted the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century. It was while he stayed here that he wrote is famous work, Meditations.
We had quite the mix of riding surfaces today. That, coupled with our sub par route finding skills, had us going in all directions. One of us would spot a trail with a bicycle sign and off we’d go only to find that the trail ended or diverted itself in the wrong direction. It’s always amazing what signs you find (to point you in the right direction) when you turn around.
About 15 kilometers out of Budapest we found a major trail route called the Euro Velo. We hopped on and figured we’d have a smooth ride into the city. In a matter of five minutes we were on singletrack dodging trees and potholes. Chris yelled back to me to see if I wanted to continue and I hollered forward to carry on. As long as we were heading south and along the river, I was ready for whatever terrain lay ahead. The trail soon turned back to hardpacked dirt road and didn’t pose too many challenges after that.
The first glimpses of central Budapest definitely took my breath away. Sometimes I feel like I’m traveling through all the movies I’ve watched in the past about Europe. The magnificent parliament buildings set on the left bank of the mighty Danube River is a memory I think I’ll have forever.
We made our way to the Szechenyi Lanchid (bridge) and crossed over into Pest. You see, Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest (I didn’t know this before reading my Lonely Planet book). Buda is the more relaxed of the two, while Pest is the commercial center. Anyway, we crossed the bridge and then did the usual zig-zagging to get to our apartment.
Tonight we are tucked away four doors in and four floors up. Tomorrow we explore the city…

Here’s to Viennese coffee houses,

No comments: