Robert Munro
/ Rob Munro

Hungary

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After a week of rain in Slovakia these sunflowers proved a good omen - nothing but sunshine in Hungary. Not that it helped my sense of direction - I was lost trying to ride through Bükk National Park when I saw this sign - none of the places on it were on my map.

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Just to prove that getting lost isn't always a bad thing, all these photos were taken down a trail in Bükk National Park that I wouldn't have followed if I realised it was a dead end. The waterfall tumbling out of the cliff and filling the turquoise pool (top left) was amazing.

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The trying of crop 49. Eger had about 30 of these cellars in a little semi-circle, all offering cheap tasty wine straight from the barrel. I got bitten on the eye by a wasp next to the vineyard pictured - really painful - the locals of the valley learned some new English words that day.

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Stopped for a break by this fountain. In the 10 minutes I was there half a dozen people rode up on bicycles one after the other to fill large containers with the water. Only an hours drive from Budapest, I was surprised that they didn't having fresh water on tap. Still, the lack of basic services was made up for by extra large town names - I think Jaszfelsoszentgyorgy was the longest.

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My guidebook describes Budapest as a "sublime mix of the old and the new." Notice how the 6-lane highway (bottom left) sublimely curves past the waterfall and sculptures?

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The plains of western Hungary were a great motivator for riding long distances - no particularly beautiful spots to stop at and someone had helpfully sprayed the shoulders of the roads with broken glass and metal to discourage short breaks. Anyway, I rode from Budapest to a hostel on Lake Balaton in one day - 206km - which is my longest day's riding ever and about double my average.

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Lake Balaton was a nice place for a day's break, and the scenery was improving - lots of smaller farms, pockets of forest and low rolling hills.

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The rangers Orsegi National Park don't seem to be troubled by needing to look after much primary forest - I only saw farms. The camping ground I stayed for my last night in Hungary was in an orchard - I think I was the first person to camp there in a few weeks - a beautiful spot with these wild-flowers.


  Sunflowers Bükk National Park Eger Jaszfelsoszentgyorgy Budapest The plains Lake Balaton Orsegi National Park