1.12 From urban jungle to nature paradise
Updated: Oct 15, 2022
On days when our ride takes us into the big city, I'm always a little extra nervous. The Unimog is and remains an off-road vehicle, and it really only does cities for our sake. Fortunately, I always have my attentive co-pilot sitting next to me. She scans with an alert eye all possible - and impossible - dangers at an early stage. Together with the friendly voice from the navigation system, two ladies are already diligently talking at me, so that the eight-ton team also comes quickly and safely to the destination.
The approach to the Haller Camping in the middle of Budapest is comparatively easy today. As the name suggests, Haller Camping is located just behind Haller Park. In cities like these, we exchange our otherwise so popular nature sites next to rivers, lakes or on mountain tops with a normal campsite for motorhomes. One gets to know there always exciting people. In addition to three Swiss campers, we also met Josef and his wife again, whom we had already met at the river in Tokaj. The world of travelers is actually small and a world of its own. But their stories and adventures are always exciting. Such an exchange between travelers means a lot to us, even if their views on certain countries, people or situations often diverge diametrically. But that's probably what makes them so exciting.
Our location is actually relatively central. Of course, not exactly downtown Citycenter, but this is within walking distance in less than 20 minutes. In the search for a good restaurant, we have but our dear trouble. Actually, I'm looking to eat a really good goulash again since Szeged. But in our vicinity it is rather impossible. However, we find a great Japanese restaurant. Yes, we love sushi more than anything and in the big cities you can get them anyway easier than on the countryside.
We start the first Budapest day on foot. After long consideration, we finally do not dare to park our fat bikes in front of the big market hall. So a short walk leads us to the Danube and finally to Budapest's tourist hotspot No. 24, the big market hall. We were already twice in this great city and a visit here is already part of the set program. You can find here almost exclusively Hungarian specialties, fresh local fruits, local vegetables and a lot of meat and sausages. As a souvenir we buy the best paprika, one sweet and one hot. Apparently, the best one comes from Szeged, which we didn't realize when we were there two months ago.
Before we go on, we have to satisfy our hunger here. But a goulash is too much for us at lunchtime, so we are content with a goulash soup. Really delicious. The taste of the paprika is simply much better than at home. One thing you have to remember: When you look at the soup, the soup must look back. That is, a goulash soup can only be good if it has grease eyes. And ours has them, simply delightful.
The weather is much too cool for the time of year, but beautifully sunny and therefore still quite pleasant. We crisscross through the city, across the Danube and back again and finally along the Danube down to the Ludwig Museum. With many pictures in the box and an estimated 12 kilometers in the legs, we go to bed early in the evening and listen to the cargo planes, which from 10 p.m. for one or two hours jet low over our district.
The following day, our fatbikes are once again put to use. On the campground they are just as much an attraction as our Unimog. Often they are mistaken for small motorcycles. Because of the folded handlebars and the missing saddle, many people do not understand what these things are. Just E-Fatis. A good Swiss product with the best raw materials from China. With our Fatbikes we ride now first through the Haller Park and then along the Danube to the center. There we have some difficulties to find a real bicycle path. Again and again it happens that the bicycle path simply ends, flows into a multi-lane road or is swallowed by a construction site. We make the best of it and eventually reach the Margaret Island in the north of the city as it begins to rain lightly. On the return trip on the right bank of the Danube we have to seek refuge under trees a second time. Here, cycling is now much more pleasant, as the paths are well laid out and continuous. The view of the palace from the opposite Buda side is very impressive and a crossing of one of the many steel bridges is anyway. At apero time, fortunately, the black clouds disperse and we enjoy a wonderful sundowner in one of the trendy bars directly on the waterfront.
As beautiful as this bike trip was, the constant sirens of ambulance and police, the hectic streets and sleep-inducing air traffic, the exhaust fumes and the incredibly advanced spread of 5G antennas create a metropolitan jungle, causing my dear wife to suffer. After the third restless night, we decide to get back out into nature and so today we head north towards the Danube bend at Visegrad.
The ride takes us, as the day before by bike, along the Buda side with a great view of Pest. So the city name Budapest explains itself quite simply with the two districts left and right of the Danube bank. A good hour after leaving Hungary's capital behind, we reach our destination region at the Danube bend. Of course, a visit to the 250 meter high Visegrad mountain with its citadel is a must. The well preserved medieval double castle offers a unique panoramic view and certainly an immersion into the local history. Unfortunately, we missed the internationally known Visegrad Palace Games, but we still got to see some of it in the vivid exhibition at the fortress.
In the evening, you may have guessed, we are once again directly on the Danube, as you can probably only do in Hungary or Romania. Hardly ten meters separate us from the riverbank and here it has not even fishermen. It is now really high time that we also test our high-grade steel grill. With a few delicious bacon sausages that we throw on the hot embers at dusk, we can also tick off this equipment with a "works".
A few hours after dark, we get visitors after all. We hear hooting from young men. At an advanced hour, this is always associated with some discomfort. You never know what state of mind the nocturnal visitors are in. Our night vision cameras don't show much, the immediate surroundings are too unobservable. The voices are getting louder and louder, there seem to be several of them. We turn on our floodlights, which turn night into day all around us. And there we see the troublemakers already approaching, respectively passing by. With their hoods pulled down to their eyes, they march past our vehicle in single file. They are gone. Whether the situation really had conflict potential? We will probably never know for sure. In any case, it went according to plan for us, thanks to the night spots.
The weather deteriorates again the next day, it is weekend. We enjoy the peace and stay one day longer in this idyllic place, despite the small incident of last night. Only a few kilometers further upstream, Slovakia begins on the opposite side of the river. So our route no longer takes us further north, but only west from here.
Our next destination is Tata. Actually, the originally planned sights were another Esterhazy castle and of course the castle of Tata. However, after the big urban jungle, we are more into nature and prefer the Fenyes nature trail, the magical enchanted forest of Tata to the castles. There we also have a fantastic place to spend the night under sturdy old trees.
Here we enter a marshy area where 25000 liters of water gush out of the earth every day. These karst springs are crystal clear, sometimes green, sometimes turquoise and in summer and winter at a pleasant 22 degrees Celsius. It is not surprising that many animal species feel very comfortable here. Accordingly, also the soundscape. From the chirping of birds to the croaking of frogs, pure nature. The more than one kilometer long nature trail leads to 18 stations over footbridges and suspension bridges and also up to observation platforms. It is very relaxing here and fascinating at the same time and it shows us Hungary from a completely different side. We like it so much that we skip the afternoon program with castle and palace and spend our time today exclusively in this nature paradise.
We are already approaching western Hungary again and thus the end of our FRAME maiden tour through Romania and Hungary. For the crowning finale, however, Hungary once again pulls out all the stops. The last stages of our almost 7000 kilometer long tour to the Black Sea and back will take us from Bokod, the floating village, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Pannonhalma and finally to the baroque city of rivers in Györ.
Next Blog: 1.13 The crowning finale