Sunday, 30 August 2015

First Days in Hungary

Romania and Hungary, 24th – 26th August 2015


After our last night in Romania we set off towards the border, stopping to use up our remaining Romanian currency by filling up on LPG and stocking up on a few bits from Lidl. I hid some bottles of beer away in case we were searched at the border but needn’t have bothered as I think the faded sign said the limit was 17L of alcohol! We crossed the border near Oradea with just a check of our passports.

As we entered Hungary everything suddenly felt more like Western Europe again; buildings were tidier, the appearance of the country roads, roads were in better condition,
cars were sticking to speed limits and not overtaking us constantly. The scenery was flat with fields of corn and sunflowers either side of the road, and we saw a couple of Tescos! When we saw that the main road we came in on had a vignette sign we turned off straight away into a village to stop and look up online how much they were and where to get one. It’s an e-vignette with no windscreen sticker that is logged by registration number which is checked by cameras. One is required for motorways and other main roads so we bought one online for the minimum ten days for 5950 Forint (Ft) which is about €19.


In the afternoon we stopped at a car park we had details for in Hortobagy (GPS: 47.58111 21.15081, 600Ft day parking and can stay for the night) which is in the Putzsa National Park, the largest natural grassland in Europe. There are a lot of wetlands with reeds making it popular with birds, we saw seven storks wandering around the car park and heard a woodpecker at night. The bikes got their first use for three months, since in Italy, for a five mile ride around the town and nearby area. Unfortunately there were a lot of flies about, we killed over 50 that had got inside the van before we closed all the flyscreens.

We've added more pictures from around Hortobagy at the end of the post.

I set an alarm for the morning so we’d be up and away before the car parking charging started but my phone hadn’t changed time zone yet (Hungary was one hour back) so we ended up getting woken up at 6:30! It meant we had some time to plan where we were going next though before we left. The next spot we had along our route was in Bukki National Park. There we two potential stopover places, the first appeared to be a grass picnic area with wooden posts to stop vehicles but the second on a car park near a children’s activity centre looked fine and was empty. We tried going for a walk through the woods but about five minutes in a fallen tree blocked the path, plus there were loads of ants on the ground, some of which started climbing onto our feet so we turned back and there didn’t seem to be any other walking routes nearby.

The following morning we set off and got onto the M3 motorway, a very good road which we had a steady cruise along at 85-90 km/h keeping the fuel economy up, until we reached the edge of Budapest. We had two possible spots to check out; the first was a paying car park with a barrier and was quite close to the main road so we kept going. On the hill in Visegrad we pulled into the last car park (GPS: 47.79674 18.99714) before the one at the top that charges.  It was a nice spot overlooking a grass park, although quite unlevel.




The park that we stayed next to
Captain Jo

After some lunch we set off up to the top of the hill on foot where the main attraction is a bobsled on rails (as shown in the photo of it on a sign), plus “Canopy” a series of high level zip wires between towers. We had a look at the views from the top down the ski slope which looked very steep, overlooking the River Danube, before having a go on the bobsled. You can sit two people one behind the other and have brake levers to control the speed, it was good fun, particularly the first part before we caught up with a slow mover. As it was the last day of our billing month for our mobile internet and we hadn’t been able to get much use of it in Romania due to very poor signal coverage we had a lot of data allowance left so made use of it going online in the evening and I cooked Jo dinner for a change while she was busy on it.

From here it was a short journey to our next main location, the capital city Budapest.

- Matt

More pictures:


Hortobagy



Other


Not just towns and cities signposted but five other countries!
An angry looking hotdog
View of the Danube from the top of Visegrad ski slope

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