Author Topic: Hungary  (Read 1694 times)

Hungary
« on: 22 September, 2023, 07:49:48 pm »
Well, who would have thought it, but Hungary is a cycling paradise.

There are cycle paths everywhere, proper ones made of smooth tarmac, as wide as a road in places, marked and signposted, and taking sensible routes. Where there aren't, the roads are marked with yellow arrows showing the best routes to take, and in cities a large portion of the road given over to on-road lanes. A lot of the infrastructure is brand new and lots of evidence of new paths being built.

The result of all this is that there are absolutely thousands of people out using them. All ages and genders. All kinds of bikes, trikes and scooters – I saw at least half a dozen recumbents – children out many miles from the nearest village, families going to the beach, chain gangs on a blast (there's plenty of room). "Build it and they will come" seems to have worked, in spades.

There's also an absolute rule of give way to the cycle route. Where a path crosses a side road there's no nonsense of "cyclist dismount", the yellow paint goes across and the drivers *always* give way. So much so that the locals don't look left or right, they just blast through. Not only side roads but if occasionally a path crosses the main road, the drivers will look for cyclists and slam on their brakes from 100+ km/h so that the cyclist doesn't have to wait.

Any bad points? The standard of driving is absolutely atrocious. I witnessed two crashes in four days. One where a driver pulled out from a side road without looking and was hit by a light truck, lots of expensive looking noise. The other was a nasty head-on on the highway where someone tried to overtake at a junction. Also the drivers will show their extreme displeasure if you cycle on a road if there's a path nearby, even where that path is under construction and not suitable for a normal bike.

Overall: highly recommended as a destination, lots of history and architecture to see, lots of beautiful landscape, plenty of cycle café stops, good choice of flat routes and mountains. RR in the next post.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Re: Hungary
« Reply #1 on: 22 September, 2023, 07:53:29 pm »
Well, that sounds a very positive change since I left there in 2008 after eight years. Did you do any riding in Budapest? That's where I was and it was nothing like the utopia you experienced.
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: Hungary
« Reply #2 on: 22 September, 2023, 08:21:35 pm »
Sounds wonderful! And also unlike my brief visit to Budapest in 2004, but that was a lifetime ago. Looking forward to part 2.
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.

Re: Hungary
« Reply #3 on: 22 September, 2023, 09:20:33 pm »
RR

Day 0: Arrive at Budapest Ferenc Liszt airport and wait for my bike. And wait. No sign of it. Everyone else's luggage has come and gone. Wander round and finally find it at the lost + found area. It's survived the flight with just a slight wobble to the newly-trued back wheel. Bah. So, as usual, I strap the bike bag over the panniers and head off 15 km to my accommodation. It's getting dark, and gooogle maps keeps trying to send me off up various paths into the dark dark woods. After a bit of re-routing I turn up five minutes late and my lovely landlady Marta is texting to ask if I'm OK. "I'm here!" [waves]
15 km

Day 1: A loop route through Budapest, along Margaret's Island (bus and cycles only), North up the Danube for a bit, then off into the mountains. It is soon clear that I'm doing the loop the wrong way round, lots of cyclists wizzing down the very long and smooth road that I'm going up, while the way I'm going to go down is a lot more bumpy. Never mind. Beautiful forest, soon I'm on car-free roads again. I head further north for lunch at Visegrad Castle. Komoot in its infinite wisdom sends me down, down, down, then up a dead-end road. It's at least 40% and I have trouble walking it. At the top, where it joins the road I would have been on if I hadn't gone down, down, down, there's a big gate across the road and cameras and signs. I have to scrabble through the nettles and mud banks and finally back on the road. And to lunch at the Panoramic Eatery. The traditional Hungarian menu has *six* vegan/veggie dishes on it, as many as meat ones, though they all contain mushrooms in one form or another. Then back down to follow the Danube home. One wild boar (captive) on the way.
150 km

Day 2: Head out west to Lake Balaton, which is popular but unexciting. From there head up into the hills. I was aiming to stay at an eco-style place but I'm making good progress so I book into a pension out in a village a bit further on. I stop at Zirc for a beer before the last eight hilly km to Parna, and arrive as intended at 6pm, only to find that this is the only place in Hungary that doesn't take card. The host speaks no other language than Hungarian, and will take nothing other than actual Forints. There's no ATM and the shop is closed. I've already done 164 km but there's no option but to cycle back to Zirc, and it's hilly. Thankfully the ATM gives me some Forints, and the ice cream stand *does* take cards so I have some quick sugar and get back to Parna with the cash at 7:20. The restaurant closed at 7. There's no food unless I go back to Zirc! And I haven't had any lunch either. No, we can't give you any bread. Ten minutes later, there's a knock on the door, and the host is back with a plate of hot food and a big smile. Wow.
180 km

Day 3: Parna is not on the way to anywhere. The roads out lead to small settlements then stop. I really can't face that road back to Zirc for a fourth time. Komoot suggests a path through the woods saying "some parts may not be suitable" which given Komoot's normal advice is a warning indeed. And so it turns out – the road turns to track, then grass, then mud. But it's stunning and I can cope with 10 km of walking to the nearest road. Then, after fording a stream, I hit a decent cinder trail. Clearly one which came out of the other side of Parna and which Komoot could have put me on if it wasn't minimising distance at all cost. Grr. From there it's downhill with a tail wind all the way to Gyor, Hungary's second city. Very small in comparison to Budapest. After a bit of sightseeing I head on into Slovakia, then turn into a horrible headwind along Eurovelo 6 to Komárno. I meet a couple who've cycled from Germany and are 9 days in, struggling with the wind. There's not much in Komárno, but there is a lovely courtyard bar serving Pilsner Urquell and the best Hermelin (pickled cheese) I've ever had.
165 km

Day 4: It's raining. This was not expected, the forecast was for not even a cloud for the next two weeks. I left my waterproofs in Budapest! The Germans are staying put until it stops, they are planning the direct route to Budapest over the mountain. I want to follow the longer route on Eurovelo mostly on the other side of the Danube, so I head out into the rain, predicted to stop within the hour. It doesn't stop until lunch time. The Eurovelo is very well signposted, but the designated ferry route has been shut down for a few years. It would have been good if someone had the wit to put the "this ferry is closed" sign at the turning off the road rather than the abandoned slipway. Grrr. On the actual ferry further on there are more bikes than cars, including a French couple with a baby in a trailer and a Dutch family with two children wearing drysuits riding tandems. Then it's past castles, through woods, by beaches, all the way to Budapest. Fantastic.
160km

Day 5: Ride out to the airport and sit in the sun for a bit. On arrival, England is wet and cold.
25 km
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Re: Hungary
« Reply #4 on: 22 September, 2023, 09:29:51 pm »
Well, that sounds a very positive change since I left there in 2008 after eight years. Did you do any riding in Budapest? That's where I was and it was nothing like the utopia you experienced.

Oh Dog yes. There are some roads in the city with very good provision, which I found purely by accident. Others not so much. I was nearly run over when I had to leave one path cos there was a lorry in it (there are posts, but cos the paths are wide plenty of motons drive into or down them in the city). I was beeped at by a bus for not going fast enough in a bus lane approaching a red light, and very nearly wiped out by a boy racer who came screaming down a central "no cars" lane then through a light that had been red for some time.

Interestingly, very few of the Roos (or Foos as they are there) were on electric.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Re: Hungary
« Reply #5 on: 22 September, 2023, 09:53:28 pm »
And yes, all this infrastructure is clearly very new. Many of the paths I was on were still in the last stages of construction or waiting for lines to be painted on them, and there were diggers out extending others. But the overriding impression I got was that people are making very good use of them.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: Hungary
« Reply #6 on: 22 September, 2023, 10:01:57 pm »
Sounds like you had a good time. I recall Hungarians being pretty friendly even if in a surprisingly Northern European way. The new bike paths sound great!
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.