Sat 17th Aug.
Up the Danube and out to Slovakia.
I feared that if I didn’t leave soon, something might happen and I might never leave again. I wanted to get into Slovakia today, and to do that I needed to go early. I was packed and ready to go when Noemi was wandering around in here pyjamas wondering how she was going to get ready for her long weekend holiday by the lake (I was right, people did use the Balaton for holidays). I thanked her and swiftly left.
I got back on the outskirts of the city and like so many others, it has a road going around the outside completing a loop of the city, just like in Paris and the M25 that goes around London. I got onto this road and followed it round, stopping at a trusty McDonald’s for coffee and wi-fi. On this particular stop, I had an email from my mum about a new arrival in the family that would make me an uncle. My brother and his wife were having a new Perryman baby. I’d been expecting to here about this news soon, maybe in the next few coming years, but not quite this soon, but it was an amazing thing to have happening and I am very happy and proud for them. I just wish I wasn’t in a McDonald’s when I got the news, but I suppose that’s partly my fault.
Getting out of the city was stuffy and tough, but with a bit of persistence I was back on the road towards Slovakia. I had initially planned to follow the river, but there was a road that would save a lot of time, as I was running a bit behind I took the quicker option, road 10 that went north-west. I made the usual stops for food and the loo and was making good time. I rejoined the river which made for some pleasant cycling as I’d hoped and spent the last of my currency (Forint) on a giant slice of watermelon from a little shack, sold to me by a young girl.
I’d noticed these little cars over here that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. I didn’t know what they were called but they were quite popular, so I assumed they were a Hungarian make of car. They were kind of ugly (like the old Saabs) but really likeable and had a lot personality. If I was a rich crazy-man, I would come to Hungary, buy one and drive it back to England.
I went through a few towns with people out enjoying the evening sun, dining outside their houses on plastic tables and chairs, under what I was realised was the tail-end of summer. That was a disorienting fact.
I followed the river for a while before crossing over into Slovakia. My plan was to get to the capital with another host for tomorrow, but no-one responded so I knew I’d have to go through the city into Austria and camp there tomorrow. For now, I crossed the bridge over the Danube river into another new country.
Any feelings of uncertainty of anxiety about a new unknown, unsafe place had withered with tiredness and the need to find a place to camp.
When I got into the first little town, I stopped and decided to buy a meal to save time with cooking that night, also as they were on the Euro (thankfully) this would be quick easy. The kebab I got was excellent, delicious and very cheap, so cheap that I decided to splash out and went to a little rock/blues bar nearby and got half a litre of beer to go down with it, which cost about €1.50. I was amazed by how cheap thing were and thought about coming here for a holiday and splashing out.
I went through the town, past some skaters trying and failing to land a trick and then west into the pink and oranges of the horizon. I knew the sun was going down fast and I didn’t have much time. Once I was clear of the town, it was just fields. I broke off from the road at the first opportunity and with some effort found a place to camp for my only night in Slovakia.
I could see a farm-house nearby, but knew that this late into the night I would be safe as long as I left early.