As you will have seen from the “Stop Press” post we spent the all of Sunday in Esztergom because of the rugby. More of that in a minute but the morning was taken up with a relaxed breakfast in town followed by a service in the cathedral (a very impressive place which commands a stunning view over the Danube – see photos when they are uploaded) for Christine while Stephen visited the Danube Museum.
This was an unusual experience! He was the only visitor at the time and so was given personal attention by the attendants in each of the half dozen or so rooms. Some of the exhibits were a little strange to such as the display of a few stuffed animals and birds and the simulated helicopter flight which consisted of some seats in a mockup plane fuselage and a tiny TV displaying the simulation where the windows should be.
In the afternoon we went to the rugby. As it was boiling hot and everyone was clearly expecting a one sided match, it was initially scheduled for only one “half” of 40 minutes. However, the Hungarians restricted the England scoring to 32-0 through some fierce tackling and sympathetic refereeing so the decision was made to have a second session of 20 minutes. The difference in class and fitness levels took effect and England clocked up another 20+ points. Looking at the interweb later (to see who was playing for England) we found that the “real” England U 20 team is playing in a world
tournament at the moment and we had seen the England Counties side. Still it was good fun and we had a chat with a number of the families of the players.
During the night there were a few spots of rain – the first we had seen since Passau in Germany.
On Monday it was time to move on again. With Budapest about 80 km away and another hot day promised we decided to aim for one of the several campsites about half way to the capital. However it turned out to be cooler than forecast as some grey clouds rolled in and a couple of the campsites had closed down. So we are now at Szentendre, only about 12 miles from Budapest, and have decided to stay here for an extra night, taking the bus or train tomorrow.
The cycling was marked by an increase in the number of other touring cyclists that we saw. Having talked to a few of them it would seem that most people go down the Hungarian side because there are more villages and accommodation than on the other, Slovakian, side which we took. We had also been a little put off by the references to several hills but the people we spoke to described it as “flat”.
The highlight of today’s trip was the “knee of the Danube” where the river has cut its way through a range of hills giving scenery reminiscent of the pretty sections in Germany and Austria. We also took three ferry rides, the first since Grein in Austria. On the first of these the only passengers were 7 cyclists all of whom were Anglophone – Mandy, Geoff and Laura from Penrith, a Kiwi/Canadian couple and us.
The last of the ferry rides took us onto Szentendre Sziget which is a large island in the middle of the river which seems to have some significance in Hungary (well it certainly got some prominence in the helicopter simulation! ).
We walked into the town of Szentendre before dinner and it was a real tourist trap! This was perhaps not surprising considering its proximity to Budapest and its prettiness. It has many cobbled streets and old buildings. Certainly worth a visit of an hour or so if you are in the neighbourhood.