Settled in the hotel bar now with yet another pot of tea I seem to have energy for the blog. What usually happens at around 4 or 5 pm is that Andy gets busy on the wi-fi and I plug in to some music, or a podcast. Sometimes some reading. Or on a good day all of the above, plus tea. Or beer. He seems to need to be busier, and luckily has some spare energy to continue thinking about the route ahead and checking that the gps is well plotted.
Today was a quiet day off, wandering the town, exploring the history where we could, and sitting, eating and resting up. Gyula is now on the border of Hungary but in 1914 was right in the middle of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Our hotel is right next to the castle, medieval but renovated in the last 5 years so another monument that looks like a Disney prop. It has a moat and a dungeon, so has all the necessary, but just seems a bit low lying to me. I wonder how soldiers were able to defend the town when you can only just see over the trees from this fortress.
Gyula is a spa town and is geared up to visitors, though there were few around the spa today as the air was distinctly autumnal. We found the oldest cafe in Hungary for coffee and cake this morning, admired the flowers in the many formal settings, and watched the fountains.
A quiet day as I said! Overall I have enjoyed visiting Hungary, though it took some adapting after leaving the gang in Vienna. Cycling days over flatlands has allowed for a different rhythm to each day, and it has been interesting to see the crops changing, such as the harvesting of watermelons this week and my first sighting of a field of butternut squash. With all that fruit and veg out in the fields it has been a surprise to find how big people are, a lot like the Uk no doubt. Boy do they eat, pork mainly- schnitzel for breakfast anyone? We saw one woman eat two of them! Even my bean goulash had pork in it too, so vegetarians must have some trials. And drinking too- great beer drinkers here, and even the Post Office sold alcohol, mainly liqueurs with some of that fruit from the harvests, especially apricot in a drink called palinka. But tomorrow we shall start the Romanian adventure and head to the mountains, the really big effort of the trip. Wish us luck, we are going to need it!
We have been something of a curiosity this side of Budapest and get a range of reactions from bemusement to a ‘what the hell are you doing here’ look, giggles and waves from kids, and at times we have both felt a bit self-conscious. However, we have also had some good conversations at bars and hotels as people are interested in the trip and what we are doing on bicycles, and a number of the younger generation have been proud to demonstrate their language skills. I even met a woman who had spent 6 months in Huddersfield so spoke English with a Yorkshire twang, wonderful. Everyone tells us that the mountains ahead are beautiful but there are bears. I’ll keep you posted on that.
Helen’s track of the day: Sting, Moon Over Bourbon Street, version from album All This Time with the trumpet solo by Chris Botti.