Four Days from Vienna

We are in a small city called Kaposvár, south of Lake Balaton. We arrived in torrential rain, and found a hotel, which we felt we deserved after a night of camping and a morning spent finding a dentist for Chris to have a temporary filling after losing a large filling during dinner last night.

Chris’s colleague, Sergey, drove us to Geneva aiport train station, with our bagged bikes. He clearly thought we were utterly nuts. We took three trains to Vienna: One of the first two was shared with a Swiss boys’ soccer team having a farting contest (they’d have faced stiff competition at our breakfast table), our couchette roommates on the final overnight train were a young Korean couple, and a mysterious lad who came and went in the dark. The bikes sat in the corridor, and the conductor was much kinder about it than I would have expected. The conductor also presented with long-life croissants and coffee for breakfast.

It must have taken us an hour to get ready to leave Vienna station, after assembling the bikes, changing clothes, eating sausages, seeing a local addict rushing into the loo jittery with needle kit ready –and coming out much calmer, and us getting into the wrong elevator with our bikes. There were idyllic bikeways in the city, but we got thoroughly lost in industrial suburbia, where we “fell between maps.” A kind couple tore a page from their map book for us, and we got going towards the Hungarian border and, after a delicious cake stop in Austria, on to Sopron for the night.

Sopron is very picturesque, and we shared an excellent centrally-located Soviet-era hotel with the US basketball team that had just played Hungary in Budapest. We had moved on from another more expensive hotel where Mr. Very Grumpy Boss did not like our bikes against his stucco wall. We slept well, having had nearly no sleep on the train or the night before in Geneva.

We pedalled on from Sopron to Celldőmőlk, where we stayed in yet another Soviet era hotel, after finding all campgrounds and supermarkets were closed, and hotels scarce. Supper was a huge wienerschnitzel, because this was the only thing I could recognize on the menu. My ten words of German are very useful here, because 90 percent of the tourists are German-speaking. Then on again to Héviz, as recommended by Lehel. We swam there in a huge warm lake heated by thermal mineral springs.  In the centre of the lake, where the warmest water is, there is a building raised on stilts which has with typical pointy Hungarian rooves. They look like witches’ hats . Swimming into this building, you can line up at stations, holding onto a railing, and move forward at a voice command as you go through the hottest part. Despite the fact that there must have been several thousand people, the place didn’t feel crowded. We had massages. Ahhhhhhhh. Well worth while. And please don’t swim among the water lilies!

We got onto an excellent bikeway along the shore of Lake Balaton, then stopped for a good supper (where Chris also swallowed the lost filling) and set up camp in the dark on a muddy bit of rough foreshore. The tourist season is over, and most campsites and pensions are closed. We were tired. We’d done nearly 300 km in 3 days. Oh yes, Lehel was right about the mosquitoes!

The next morning, we pedalled on to Fonyód, which looked large enough to have a dentist. I knew the word for please, and I got the word for dentist from our phrasebook. The well-equipped Poly Clinic was only one hundred metres from where I inquired, and they saw to Chris within a few minutes. The temporary filling cost 10,000 forints, which seemed like deal when the alternative was to pedal into a cool headwind with a very fragile and sensitive molar. We had coffee and strudel by the lake as Chris’s jaw thawed. He’s fine now.

We navigated onwards on the smallest roads that our map shows: the white ones. Some of these are OK, but others have quite a bit of traffic, and are shoulderless. We have now bought an extremely detailed road atlas to see us accross the rest of Hungary to Pécs and the border with Croatia. Then we should be onto our detailed Danube maps, and we’ll mail a few maps, including this recent purchase which is a rather heavy book, back to Geneva. As we pedal into towns, the signs tell us clearly when to leave the road and get onto the organized bike path. There are special traffic lights for cyclists, and here in Kaposvár a voice even tells you when to go. The voice speaks Hungarian, which doesn’t help us much –but we are pretty much a rarity here. Actually, it is probably there for blind pedestrians.

We have learned to do the nephew-Daniel-method of preparing a cheat sheet of town names to help with navigation. This is essential, as it is hard to remember some of the names for more than three seconds after looking up from the map. Today, for example, we went through Feketbézseny, Pusztaszentgyőrgy, and Somogyvár.

We haven’t got the download cable for the camera, so pictures will have to wait till we find a shop that downloads.

Until later, viszlat.

One response to “Four Days from Vienna

  1. My sympathies to Chris and his teeth. I hope the weather isn’t too bad.

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