It was somewhat hard to get back into the swing of our trip after an extended stay in Budapest, where we were able to spend two days exploring and enjoying the city at a leisurely pace...I am totally in love with Budapest by the way! After spending the first night in a hostel, we spent the following two nights with cycle enthusiast Andi who cooked delicious Hungarian food on the first night and then made us waffles on the second night (which we enjoyed with her endless array of homemade jams!). Budapest is a big city and we walked for miles, enjoying wandering aimlessly from one street to the next, admiring the impressive architecture that makes this city look so handsome! The climb up to the citadel offered views across Buda and Pest with the Danube intersecting them and I could have stayed up there for hours. Instead, Ashley and I headed to the Széchenyi thermal baths which are the largest medicinal baths in Europe. We spend the most relaxing hours of our lives bathing in the various plunge pools, steam rooms, saunas and swimming pools. It relieved all aching muscles and resulted in the best sleep ever!
Leaving Budapest was hard....and not in the way we'd expected! It was hard to find the exit route we wanted and a wicked wind was constantly blowing dust and grit into our faces...this, coupled with heavy traffic and crap road quality, made cycling conditions less than enjoyable for the first two hours! We had been slow to get going (leaving at 10am) and cycled an unnecessary 18km for a ferry that we didn't end up catching. When we pitched tent, there was an element of relief that the day had ended and we vowed to be more 'focused' in the morning!
A 7am start and more favourable conditions gave us a good start as we headed towards the Croatian border. Many of the roads that we wanted to take didn't allow cyclists, but we rode our luck and took them anyway. No one seemed to be too concerned with our presence.
The roads in Croatia were are marked improvement on those in Hungary and the countryside seemed even more pretty too! Friendly car drivers 'honked' their horns and passers by waved and shouted greetings (I have no idea what they were saying!). We covered good ground and camped just outside the city of Vukovar beside the memorial cemetery. In the early 1990s, during the Croatian war of independence, Vukovar was heavily damaged and hundreds of 'defenders of the city' and civilians were killed as the significantly larger (and better equipped) JNA army laid siege on the city. The water tower which was severely damaged during the conflict, has been preserved as a symbol of the suffering that the city experienced. Walking around the memorial cemetery was a very moving experience, it's frightening to think of the atrocities that were committed here in such recent times.
So, onwards we travel tomorrow. Heading towards the Iron Gates and Romania.
Love and hugs. X