Sun 11th Aug.
The Budapest adventure.
I had a long breakfast with Hrvoja and Zizek thanked them for hosting me and helping fix my thing. Hrvoja had even given my chain a full clean and checked a few other things on the bike for me. Another thing they brought to my attention was tick bites. They said how dangerous the can be and how they can lead to a number of bad things and diseases in later life if you don’t remove them properly. I had a tick bite in France and another more recently that I had removed but left a red patch. A niggling feeling of uncertainty began eating away at the back of my mind and I would get it checked out in the next city.
Well rested, I was glad to be back on the bike and at the beginning of my next challenge. I never thought I’d have enough time to cycle to Buda pest and back, as it’s quite a way out the route I was on, so if I could up my cycling I knew I would be able to do it in the time frame.
I had changed my cycling shorts at this stage. The shorts had become so worn out and useless and the padding so thin, that they weren’t much good. I was over onto the ‘Team GB, London 2012’ bib I had acquired when the Olympics were on, which had wealth of padding and didn’t slip out-of-place. Although the one major disadvantage, was it made going to the loo very difficult as there was no fly and you couldn’t remove your t-shirt to bring the bib straps down and go normally. I didn’t know how women would get along on a trip like this. It must be very difficult. But the bib provided a world of comfort that I had been without all along.
Leaving the city was unpleasant, but once I was out I was happy. I had despised getting around Zagreb and had several episodes with drivers honking at me in Croatia. Some out of support and respect, others simply because I was an inconvenience to them. Both very disheartening when it’s you out on your own.
I went north out of the city along some plain roads and then onto some more highway-type roads. Then I got to a point where I needed to change my direction and head north-east. I knew I wouldn’t make the Hungarian border today, but my aim was to get close.
The countryside improved and relaxed me from my negative coma I’d got into since cycling around Croatia. I learnt the hard way that the place you go to when in Crotia, is the coast, not inland. As I’d only experienced the land I had a negative picture and saw none of the beauty on the coast.
It became much greener and like the east of Slovenia was. It was quite pleasant on the eye and with the sun past its peak was good riding, until I noticed a hissing sound. The bike kept moving, but not for long. I stopped on a quiet road, inspected the tyre and found a shard of glass that had dug its way into the front tyre. I removed it immediately, letting all of the air out of the tube. Not a great start to the next four days.
I pulled over and began sorting it out. I was near a small village and attracted the attention of some kid who spoke no english but decided to sit and watch me regardless. We tried talking to each other, but it didn’t really work and I was beyond the level of patience required to communicate with hands. I was listening to music on the iPad to pass the time and he managed to ask where the music was coming from. Uncertain wether or not I should show the kid (given I was in the middle of nowhere and he could easily disappear on his bike, mine upside down with a flat) I did. He enjoyed looking at the iPad and I realised it was probably the first time he’d seen one. This wasn’t the third world, but it was remote and you could tell there was much money here. He gave it back, disappeared and re-appeared with another friend on a bike. He asked to see it again and I said no way, I wasn’t falling for that, not out here or anywhere. Luckily I was almost finished, after the repair had reopened on inflation wasting more time.
An old guy stopped while I was fixing and tried talking to me in German, then talked to the kids who he obviously knew. I wonder why he thought I was German or why he spoke it.
When I left the kids continued to follow me out of the village on the country roads, before getting bored and trailing off. All the houses here looked like they had been made quickly and cheaply from large red blocks (not bricks) either by the people who lived in them, or by some amateur building company. I’d noticed a few earlier, but all the houses here were made like this and a few more later on.
I got far enough and it was getting late. I luckily found a nice spot between some hedges and hid myself away from plain sight and setup. I heard a group of old women out walking at one point after setting up, but I didn’t see them and the didn’t see me. They were joking and laughing and seemed to be enjoying themselves.