Slough calling - We're back

Hungary is not a big cycling country. There may be miles of cycle routes but in our experience so far they are in useless strips 100m long with 10cm kerbs at either end. We have picked up a map of cycle routes in Hungary and it shows that any major road that goes directly from A to B cycling is prohibited. Even the border crossing road does not allow bicycles between 6-9am and 4-8pm – cycle commuting is obviously not big in Hungary either.

We can not take the direct road from Pecs to Budapest so we head North over some hills. We stop at Dombovar whose main attraction is Dombo castle, 2 stacks of crumbly brick are all that remain. Most of the countryside is flat maize fields. Our main excitement each day is trying to find an open campsite, which is getting more difficult. The weather is dry but temperatures are varying, some days 25 degrees, and others less than 10.

The roads to Budapest are busy as expected and fairly narrow. As we get to the centre we cycle on the pavement. After some searching we find a campsite on the Pest side 4km North of the centre. Packing the tent the previous day in Skekesfehervar we had a second tent pole break. Before we pitch the tent we have to use the spare pole section supplied by Hilleberg (the splint tube is already in use). Its 7pm and we have no food. The nearest shops are over a footbridge so we off we walk. Unfortunately the closest supermarket still open is a Tesco ! Tesco Global have introduced 24hr shopping to Hungary. We are starving so we reluctanly shop there.

Our first whole day in Budapest is spent trying to find out how to get home as we only have Easyjet tickets for a flight the following week to make our travel insurance valid. We spend most of the day at the airport and internetting finding who will take the tandem in one piece i.e. no box. The answer is no-one. We decide that the tandem can be disassembled and squeezed in one solo bike box, available from KLM for £12. The cheapest option is to change the Easyjet booking and book a hotel in Luton due to the late arrival time.

The next day we do our tourist bit including a 2hr coah tour of Budapest and a long public transport journey to a statue park of statues from Communist times that are now out of favour. By 6pm its raining and I shed my normal reserve and beg a lift back to the city from 3 English people with a car. If you have never been to Budapest is definitely worth a visit and its fairly cheap too. The West side (Buda) has the old churches, castles, citadel and real tourist tat and the East side (Pest) has most of the shops, hotels and cafes.

And then its time to head back to England. We cycle 26 miles to Terminal 2 of the airport and it takes about 4 hours due to a couple of stops and frustrating cycle routes. We get to the KLM desk for our bike box and distaster strikes – they will not sell us one !!! We were previously misinformed and they only sell to KLM customers and even then have to order them. I run around the terminal and its the same story at every ticket desk. We are despairing, Ian will have to stay with the bike and ……ohhhh we had it all planned so well. We head to Terminal 1 to speak to Easyjet and our hour of panic is over. They will take the bike boxless at our own risk. Ian declares love for the lady at the check in but I don’t mind. Ian takes 2.5 hours to do the best packing job ever – tubes are covered in cut up sleeping mat and 15m of insulation tape, handlebars are removed etc. We check in with 1.5 hours to spare and relax at last. The flight is our first Easyjet experience but the bike is undamaged at the other end so we do not care. We eventually get to bed at 00.15.

The last day (Sat 15/10) is a short ride from Luton to Slough trying to avoid the Chilterns as much as possible. We pick up the keys from our neighbours and its home at last. Ian has a week to recover before going back to work.

Its been a great holiday/experience which we would definitely do again – given time to recover. We are dreaming of a world tour with a round-the-world plane ticket and tandem combo. I’m not sure I could get my parents to fly out to Africa or wherever with extra supplies though. Thanks for keeping in contact with us on our travels. We may add more to this site over the next few weeks, so until next time……………..Goodbye

Penny & Ian