Across Continents

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Heading south

Sunday morning. Early. The streets of Budapest were relatively quiet. I’d decided to use one of the main arterial routes to make a quick exit south out of the city and pick up the Danube cycle way – the EuroVelo 6 – later. Lane discipline, clear hand signals and speed – I can manage about 25 miles an hour on the flat, for a few kilometres at least – that’s all I’d need, I’d be fine. I’d ridden in London for years. The cycle way was a welcome sight.

South of the capital lies is the Danube island of Csepel-sziget, tip-to-tip about thirty-five kilometres in length, about eight kilometres across at the widest point. Flat. Quite dull. Along the banks, endless rows of weekend river retreats, some substantive houses, others just wooden cabins. Mostly muddy tracks, and like the river, the cycle route seemed to meander, tedious, slowing progress considerably.

I eventually crossed to the east bank, riding along the top of the huge earth bank that protects the surrounding farmland from flooding. The town of Dunaujvaros, a few kilometres over on the other bank, appeared, silhouetted by the setting sun. Looked industrial. A couple of hours of daylight left. I decided to make for the small town of Dunafoldvar, about an hour’s ride further south. Bound to have some cheap accommodation.

Reaching Dunafoldvar as the light began to fail, I searched fruitlessly for shelter. A few Zimmer frei – room available – signs but no one around. Nothing. The motel had closed down and the floating hotel on the river had shut up shop until next year. Temperature is beginning to drop rapidly. Too dark now to safely return to the cycle route and find a spot for wild camping.

I needed to get under cover fast. An idea. The camp ground by the river had, it seemed, already closed. Deserted, the facilities locked. But the gates had been left open. Fair game. Picking a discrete spot, the tent was soon up, kit stowed, head torch extinguished. Barely 6.30pm, some chocolate, then straight into my sleeping bag to keep warm. Alarm set for sunrise.


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