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I realise this final post is a day late, but once we got to Budapest we just wanted to get ready look around the place and celebrate.

So the final day of riding from Esztergom through Szentendre then into Budapest.  A route of about 75km.  This was the least we had to ride over the final few days.  We were putting in the big kilometre days so the dream of riding the full planned route came to fruition.  The previous days riding took us through some very industrial towns and it was our only grey day of the whole trip so it was just a case of riding.  Our final ride was back to normal again.  Normal which means 35 degree minimum with hardly any cloud cover to give us some shade.  But that is how we wanted the final day of riding.  Sunny and beautiful to help remember such a good trip.  The town of Esztergom is stunning.  They have put beautiful buildings on top of other beautiful buildings so riding out of such a location was a good start to the day.  It gave the ride a good atmosphere.  The route started in some woods which provided the shade we crave but it also gave some stunning scenery to look out on.  The town of Szentendre was our big rest point for the day.  It is an arty town and you can tell as soon as you ride in.  It is a tourist hotspot but for all the good reasons.  Lovely shops and works of art on display.  The street lights have all been covered with traditional lampshades and it makes the place look really funky.  It was a shame we could not see it at night because I bet it would have been a rite spot to chill with a glass of wine.  From Szentendre we only had 24km to go until we got to Budapest, so we had time for lunch which was pittas with various dips and plenty of Coke.  When I walked back outside having paid for our lunch there was a chap chatting to Rachael.  He had seen the Bromptons and wanted some info about our trip as he too was keen on the bikes and he had done a lot of research on them, but wanted a review without the marketing hype.  He was called Jeremy and he had retired in Budapest.  The bikes would be perfect for him to get around the city and take on trains and buses.  We chatted for a while and exchanged details as we could meet up in Budapest for a drink later once we had covered the last little bit. The route went on the road for a little bit again before going back into the woods.  When we were about 6-8km from the centre of Budapest right on the outskirts we came across a strange little tourist hotspot which was just filled with your typical bars, restaurants and sun bathers and pools.  It was heaving with people and it took a while to get around them all.  Then just a little bit further we could see a few big buildings and Budapest already looked impressive.  But then we turned a corner and the city opened up with even more.  We stopped our bikes and just went “WOW”!  The city just looks magnificent, you just notice the detailed and intricate stone/tile work on towers scattered across the skyline.

We navigated straight to the hotel.  We stopped at a place called Hotel Rum.  It is a really nice spot.  After we got ready we went up to the roof terrace for our complimentary G&T.  This started the celebrations.  The view from the terrace was unbelievable and it seemed really surreal supping drinks in an open roof terrace looking over the city.  When we thought about what we had done to get there it seemed really special.  The food looked really nice so we had our evening meal on the terrace as well.  We contacted Jeremy by text and our plans came together, so he came up to our roof terrace and met us for a drink.  We then went down into the streets for another.  It was nice chatting with him and learning about what brought him to the wonderful country/city.

In the morning we woke and had breakfast on the roof.  We then went on a walk around the city to find some cardboard for the bikes.  You can get away with just packing bikes up in plastic bags for the airline but I prefer a little more protection.  Once we found some cardboard outside a closed shop we walked back to the hotel to tape them up.  We still had hours to kill so the hotel looked after our bags and bikes while we went on a stroll.  We walked around had ice creams and went to see a memorial called Shoes on the Danube Bank.

The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in BudapestHungary. Conceived by film director Can Togay, he created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honour the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

Source:  Wikipedia

After learning and talking a bit about life and the troubles of the past we walked to get some lunch.  On the way we saw a film being made.  Another conversation was started about the effort and money involved in just making a small production.  They had an army of crew, trucks and equipment going all the way down the street.  They had even made a fake hedge to film in front of but the crazy thing was this was made in front of a REAL hedge!!  I don’t know why, maybe a couple of leaves were not facing the correct way.

We walked a bit further and we found this really trendy bar that did food and cocktails.  We had a lovely meal and a couple of beers while chilled dance music played in the background.

When we had finished our meal we had time for one last G&T on the roof terrace before making our way to the airport.

This has been an unbelievable trip!  The bikes have performed without missing a beat.  Rachael is so on board with cycle touring now and she has been creating lists on where we should tour next and equipment she is going to buy for herself so she can join the community of cyclists that tour around every inch of the planet every moment of the day. Rachael had her first experience of cycle hosts through the website http://www.warmshowers.org and now she is looking forward to meeting really cool cycle/travel people through our travels.  Rachael is so cool at this cycling/camping lark.  She just keeps those pedals turning,  superstar!  This trip surpassed my expectations as I thought a river ride my be a bit uneventful considering the mountains I like to ride.  This perception could not have been further from reality.  The gorges and hills that surround most of the route were breathtaking.  We have only done the first half of the Danube.  The rest of the route continues from Budapest to the Black Sea and we are looking forward to planning that next stage.

After my first big cycle trip about 10 years ago I can honestly say in my mind there is no better way to see the world.  You have to problem solve and work together as a team and you are rewarded by seeing amazing sights and meet interesting people who have stories to tell.  If you have not tried cycle touring yet, get out there on a tour, start small if you want to gain confidence.  Trust me the only problem is you wont want to stop!!

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If you have been following the blog you will of read that we have been sweltering in 36-41 degree heat the entire trip.  You will of also have read yesterday we got to our digs just before a beast of a storm came in at about 1730 and did not stop until about 0400.

When we woke it was still chucking it down with rain, the colour of the sky really makes the immediate environment look and feel completely different.  But we were actually looking forward to a cooler day even though it was grey.  After falling behind with my planned stages we knew we had a hard day of at least 100km to keep the dream alive of cycling in to Budapest tomorrow.  You know what we did 106km today.  It leaves about 75km to do tomorrow.

The guide book states that today would be a horrible ride.  Industrial scenery and a day when for about 50% of the time you are on a road where cars drive fast past you.  As we had read the guide we were not expecting the scenes we have ridden through previously and we knew this was a day of heads down and kick some ass.

BTW:  I have forgotten to mention how cheap everything is in Hungary.  Last night we had about five beers each, coffees, main and desserts each for 30 quid.  Today we had two coffees two small pizzas and a Danish to share for £2 and tonight we have had the most amazing meal in a beautiful restaurant.  Starters and mains each.  A desert to share, three beers each a coffee and Irish coffee for again 30 quid.  Our hotel room for the night is £39.

So this morning we got to the bikes that were in an unused part of the hotel.  Rachaels bike had a flat so I had to fix that before we moved.  When we set off I realised that my GPX files for the route were missing from my device so I had to do some manual navigating all morning until we got to the next stage that was available in my Garmin.

We were riding up the road and Rachael saw this creature bounding up in front of us.  As we had seen such amazing animals we slowed down to take a look.  It was a big rat, and it was not even bothered that we were only a foot or so away from it.  I thought about taking a picture, but the thing would have attacked.  We went past a squashed snake too.

What was annoying about this morning was the fact they are still organising the route in these parts and it was deviating all over the shop.  I could see our target location and it never seemed to get closer as we were zig zagging across fields and other off-road places.  Now if we did not have the deadline I would have much prefered the route it put us on, but we had kilometres we needed to eat so I was getting frustrated by the lack of progress.

The Bromptons have been really good.  We again caught up and passed another couple that were on a big three month tour.  They were on traditional touring bikes made by Condor, but they were slipping and sliding as we went past with our small wheels.  Now I just want to make it clear! I am not saying Bromptons are the perfect touring bike, they are just a bike like any other. Every bike as negatives and positives, there are always going to be concessions and compromises to make with any bike when tackling a long tour over different surfaces.  I love all bikes, and I think these little small wheeled chariots are a funky fun bit of kit.

When we got half way through the day I had the GPX files on my Garmin and the route was just a straight road, we made up all the time we had lost in the morning and we were at our destination town by 1630.  As I were keeping the Km numbers secret from Rachael because we had previously discussed she feels better when kept in the dark.  We had a plan that when I said we were stopping for a beer, she would then know that we were only 2km away.  As we were riding on roads I left the beer stop until we were actually at our destination and that was welcome news to Rachael as she thought we had another two hours to ride.

The road we were riding on was very busy and very fast.  Now as you may know I hate cars!  I hate them for the environmental aspect, I hate them for the arrogance.  But one of my biggest things is the noise!!!  When you have been cycling in complete peace and quiet and you have to come up against the noise again, it just winds me up.  If I was to walk down the street with a music player with the same noise I would be arrested, but for some reason it is allowed to come from these things that can also kill you.  How strange is society!!!

Anyway.  The sun started to come out and the town that we ended up in is amazingly beautiful!

I am so chuffed with the progress, grit and attitude that has got us to this stage.  We have booked a top class hotel to celabrate in tomorrow night in Budapest.  Fingers crossed the last day will be as sweet and trouble free as all the others.

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We got up out of our tower after a really nice sleep.  We woke up at about 0600 and went to pay a visit thinking we would be the first up, but these Germans are early risers and the shower block had quite a few people pottering about.  After fixing Rachaels tyre (it had a piece of glass stuck in it) we left the site at about 0900, a bit later than planned.  The temp was showing as 37 degrees on the Garmin in the shade it just felt like it was a blow torch on your back in the sun.

It was a struggle to get to the place where we get the little boat across to the other side.  The boat is the best way as the river as cut a vertical route through leaving no room for a bike path.  So you would have to detour to by-pass the gorge.

When we finally got to the place where we got the boat, we were struck by the complete beauty, there were people swimming and paddle boarding, but it was so quiet and not busy or tacky at all.  It was the perfect place to stay for the day, but we had to get the boat to get to our digs.  It was a bit of a challenge lifting the bikes in but people were there to help and other cycle tourers were taking their bikes as well so I did not feel I was causing any problems.  Just before the boat came a French couple that were also on bikes jumped into the river, I thought I am having some of that.  I wish we could have stopped there all day because as soon as you left the water the blow torch was on full blast.  The French guy told me that the water temp was 28 degrees!!  but it felt cool in contrast to the crazy temperature out of the water.

When we got off the ferry we went to a bike shop for some supplies and the guy behind the counter said their summer is normally 28 degrees.  That temp sounds a lot better hat 36 degrees.  He also said that it is not cooling down at all for the forseeable future.  It is making the riding really difficult and other tourers have said they are not getting the kilometres done that they were expecting to do each day!  I am happy that it is sunny, but a tad bit cooler and I would be happier.

We did end up doing just short of 60 km today and stopped in a beautiful town called Kelheim.  It really is nice.  We had some food at a greek place and now I feel stuffed.  I broke the diet today and had a pastry mid morning and an ice cream on a walk to the bike shop.  We are taking showers whenever we pass one or jumping in the river if a place allows.  I would sum up our progress today as “Just getting through it”.

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