All weekend I had been quite stressed. I didn’t really notice just how stressed until Anna (who was visiting for the weekend) told me how tense I looked. Then I realised how much I’d let work, life and this trip wind me up. It’s unusual for me to get stressed, especially about travelling, so I don’t know why this trip was different, but it was.
The final stress was trying to ensure that I had a taxi to get me to Zhulany airport at 4:30am and to try and get enough sleep. I failed to get enough sleep but at 4:30am two taxis arrived, so I started my trip as an over-achiever
Wizz Air tried to ruin my morning by charging me 30 EUR because I forgot to check-in online, but I just swore, then smiled and then paid – wondering if there’s a budget airline anywhere in the world that doesn’t treat its customers like trash?
As I waited for the plane (trying desperately not to sleep) Chris Collision arrived in his usual cheery manner and we wandered onto the plane as he explained the various adventures he was about to enjoy in Hungary and Germany.
About two hours later (at about 8:30am) I was standing in the morning sunshine outside the Hungarian Parliament with Chuvak (my bike) in a bag on the floor. As some soldiers marched around banging a drum and raising a flag, I fumbled through my luggage, screwed some pedals and loaded Chuvak with all his luggage.
I was already sweating and still 85% asleep.
As a result, I forgot to film the start of my grand tour and lost my phone charger and luggage clip. I also forgot to buy water and after snapping the first of many ‘Danube Selfies’ I headed along the river and through the city in search of the EuroVelo 6 and breakfast, both of which should have been easy to find. Unfortunately, they weren’t – they were both almost impossible to find and 5km into my trip I was hungry, thirsty, tired, very hot and lost. Did I mention that it was +35 degrees celcius on Monday?
Anyway, then I met some German guys on Bikes who were also doing the EuroVelo 6. They were also lost, so I felt much better and enjoyed a moment of schadenfreude and gratitude for the fact that their language had given me a word to express my pleasure in their pain.
10 minutes later, just south of Budapest and having found my way onto the EuroVelo 6 alone, I met another British cyclist called Dylan. Dylan is travelling to Varna in Southern Bulgaria for a wedding and decided to go by bike (as you do) and we quickly became bike-buddies and spent the rest of the day cycling, drinking and talking our way along the Danube to Rackeve – about 50km south of Budapest.
Having a new, if only temporary, travelling partner reminded me that it’s almost always the case when travelling solo that you are only every as alone as you want to be. Dylan was good company, was a much more experienced tour-cyclist than me and (most importantly) he was also ‘winging it’ without a map and with the same sketchy route saved to his mobile phone as me.
The cycling was hot and I was tired, but it was nice to be back in Hungary where everyone looks Hungarian (I studied here for a year in 2008) and we were both grateful for their overwhelmingly good nature, lots of ‘Hello’s’ and all the locals who waived us along and pointed us in the right direction.
I arrived at the ‘Pension’ (Guest house), showered, washed some seriously sweaty clothes and then slept like a baby before meeting Dylan for beer and a burger. I had tired legs but very little to be stressed about.