Today we joined the Eurovelo 6, one of the most popular European cycle routes that crosses the continent from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. We followed large parts of the route in France in 2012, most notably along the Loire Valley.
We expected to find route information in Budapest, as this it is a prominent start/end point for many cyclists on the route. However the tourist information offices that we consulted were universally ignorant about the route, so we are flying a little blind without an official maps.
The best information we got was actually from the barman in the craft beer pub, who helped us confirm that we should exit on the southern bank of the Danube to pick up the route.
We crossed the Danube at the magnificent Megyeri Bridge – a long cable stay bridge built in 2008. There are totally separated cycling/ pedestrian lanes on both sides of the bridge. Some commercial barges passed by on the river while we were crossing.
Directly after crossing the bridge the beautiful cycle route deteriorated into a bumpy broken tar road. Luckily that didn’t last too long and soon signs for the Eurovelo 6 route became visible. The route was great in lots of places, off road and directly alongside the Danube, with just houses on the other side. It must be wonderful to have a house on the Danube banks with only a bike route between you and the river. In other places the bike route signs directed us back onto the road.
Visegrad was one of the most interesting towns we passed through. It has an old castle high on a hill above the Danube, and a lower castle, in ruins in the village below. There were hundreds of schoolchildren around the lower castle – a big school outing.
It was a hot day, with lots of flying white fluffy seeds in the air that can be quite irritating when they get into your nose or mouth. We bought some strawberries at roadside stall and ate them and some cookies alongside the river. Then we had ice cream at another small village.
We arrived fairly early at Esztergom and spent some time looking for a tourist office. We went up and down the town asking directions and being directed in circles. We would have done better just riding around and checking out the accommodation ourselves. Finally we found out that there was no office, but that we could get accommodation help from the foreign exchange office. She recommended the apartments we had already identified on the internet (but couldn’t find on the town maps displayed around the place) and provided us with a printout map. They are about five minutes out of town by bike. The reception caused us to have serious misgivings about these apartments (slow receptionist, odd people milling around, not quite like a hotel). Thankfully they turned out very good – large and self contained with a kitchenette.
Estergom is notable for it’s magnificent basilica and beautiful buildings.
The basilica is HUGE – according to Wikipedia it is the largest building in Hungary. It sits up on the hill over the town and dominates the town – there are panoramic river views from up there. However the rest of the down town area is a little run down, maybe the economy here is not so good and it is not attracting tourists to stay in the town.
In all it was an easy day – only 68km including all the riding around the town.