Shortest a day of the trip. One of the more pleasant too. Probably for that very reason.
We all liked Esztergom. There was a very real and discernible uplift in the demeanour of the locals. Finding a smile wasn’t a task too far and almost everyone we engaged with spoke more than passable English.
It was also our earliest start to the day. By some measure.
There’s two ways to peel the potato that is cycling from Esztergom to Budapest. Either draw a straight line between the two cities and cycle on busy country roads. That is about 50km and involves approximately 500m of climbing. Or you take the riverside route which is along designated cycle paths, is about 75km but involves zero climbing.
Option B everyday of the week thanks.
After a sumptuous breakfast of freshly baked breads and a decent coffee at a local cafe we started pedalling towards Budapest at 7.30am.
The early start had been necessitated by our need to be at Budapest train station by 2.50pm to hand over our bikes to the rental owner who was taking them back to Prague by train.
The first 50km of the route around the great bend of the Danube was a mix of well sign posted cycle paths, single lane country roads that were relatively quiet.
For the first time since leaving Bratislava the river was now over our left shoulder.
The last 20 km of the ride as we closed in on Budapest was through busy riverside suburbs where the route wasn’t that well sign posted and we spent a good deal of it dodging other more serious recreational cyclists and pedestrians walking the riverside path.
Having underestimated our cycling prowess we arrived within a few blocks of main train station at 12.30. With time to kill it was lunch first and then a cycle over one of the main bridges onto a very large island situated in the middle of the Danube where we took our rest on the grassy fields underneath towering trees whilst enjoying the warmth of a pleasant day in Spring.
Handing back the bike that had helped me get to Budapest and had been one of my constant companions over the previous 7 days wasn’t an emotional exercise. More on that later.
Tim had kindly organised our accommodation to be at the residence of a long standing friend on the Buda side of the city. Julia and her husband Richard had moved to Budapest over 30 years ago and both were kind enough to share their house and hospitality to three smelly tired cyclists. Not wishing to impose on the last 2-3 hours of their working day we made ourselves scarce by taking a taxi to the Castle of Budapest which towers above the city from atop a hill on the Buda side .
After few celebratory gin and tonics at a bar inside the walls of the castle we returned to Julia and Richard’s for a sumptuous meal and then it was bed time for this tired Laeman.
Tomorrow it’s the midday flight back to London.
All my general thoughts and statistics to follow in a blog that will emerge in the next day or so.
Quickly though, a massive thank you to Gareth.W and Tim.I for a wonderful seven day journey through southern Bohemia, Austria , Slovakia and Hungary . Some very good memories created and a lot of fun had.
Our departure out of Esztergom was in the shadow of the magnificent Basilica we had first seen from about 30km away yesterday when we were still in Slovakia.
The early part of the ride was along very quiet cycle paths, devoid of other people.
Velo Route 6 was our route for the day. This sign gave you the option of either remaining on the south side of the river or turning left here, cycling a km down to the river bank and take a ferry to the north side. We turned left only to find that the ferry operated on a very limited schedule and Thursday in May wasn’t one of those days. 1km back to our original planned route.
Riverbank fishing anywhere in the world looks the same. Pretty peaceful and never much caught.
This lovely lady was selling bouquets of flowers at 300 HUF a bunch. That’s 75 pence. Or AUD$1.40. I purchased two and carried them to Budapest as a way of celebrating this our last day of cycling.
River side coffee on the banks of the mighty Danube near its great bend.
A flowering pannier.
Complete bike repair station with all the gear you’d need to fix your bike . Free to the public. I can’t imagine one of these lasting very long in the UK before it got vandalised or destroyed.
The wide open cycle path 20 km north of Budapest. Unbelievable piece of cycling road that was greatly enjoyed .
The view of Budapest as we crossed the Danube on our bikes for the last time.
Bike and that aforementioned bridge. Destination reached !
A quiet hour or two relaxing in the river island park of Budapest.
Waiting for Prague bike rental man to appear At Budapest station.
Views from Budapest Castle.
Budapest Castle Church .