Now camped less than 10 km from the Danube and about a day and a half from Budapest. Using the available campgrounds means more route choices that previously this trip; I have returned to poring over the map each evening – my historical modus operandi. The ideal itinerary includes a campground short of where I’m headed, and a campground farther away, providing flexibility over the course of the day. Several campgrounds meant heading west for the Danube, with campgrounds spaced roughly every 30 km along the way, each one a decision tree for the next option.
When arriving at the campground, I need to remember to select my campsite carefully. Last night I selected a powered campsite (for the phone), which put me amongst fixed campsites instead of with the other folks in tents. A key component to meeting people? Picking a good campsite. A site not too remote, in the common path of people to provide the opportunity to talk to me, and near people active outside. Sitting there studying the map, or cooking dinner over a camp stove, provides the perfect opportunity for people to engage (see FAQ for how that usually goes). As one example, In a campground in France a family on vacation from Spain had me over for an evening of dinner, drinks, and dessert. The 14-year-old daughter provided translation services, while her father razzed her to study harder in school when her English failed her.
The forecast headwinds never appeared. Today’s cycling on flat roads and bike paths covered a lot of ground at a faster, more pleasant pace than any point prior on this trip, 30% more than my usual pace. Arriving at the turn for my final destination for the day, I stretched another 30 km to the next one (should have been 35 km, but I successfully took a shortcut on a tractor trail that finally included the required bridge). Today became an easy 110 km, and crossed 2,000 km.
In Ireland in 2004, I met two Hungarian cyclists who told me Hungary wasn’t ready yet for cyclists, and to wait four to six years. Hungary now functions like a usual Western European country. Roads display signs at intersections. Campgrounds and hostels scattered everywhere. Prices remain at Eastern European levels. The cyclists yesterday could cycle half way around the country, following the actual border, in 9 days. The Danube runs through the middle and northern border. A huge resort lake occupies the center of the country. All combine to make Hungary a great cycling destination.
Tomorrow I return to EuroVelo 6, last crossed in Bulgaria. An international cycle path, Eurovelo 6 runs from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, following the Danube for much of that path, through Budapest, Bratislava, and Vienna. I then end up on EV6 for a while, as I plan to follow the Danube. The Saturday and Sunday forecast brings temps in the high 90s. I hope to arrive in Budapest Sat. before the peak temps, and spend a day or two in a hostel, still on the planned schedule of about a week “behind”.
By train or plane I will eventually head back to Brasov for a day or two to claim my gear. USPS finally shipped my gear out of the US, and into the hands of Romanian Customs. No idea how long that will take.