Hungary 2022 (Budapest-to-Bratislava)

Day-14, Mon, May 9, from Mosonmagyarovar to Rajka

Today’s 10.2 miles (16.2 km) brings me to my last overnight stop in Hungary, a Camino guesthouse, no less, with appropriate stamp. Tomorrow will take me to Bratislava, Slovakia, my final Camino destination. Now unlike most other lodgings, there’s almost always a restaurant close by; this evening, however, I made do with groceries for evening and morning meals, as can be seen from the picture. I also found it interesting that many cars in the residential neighborhoods now have SK (Slovakia)on their plates instead of H (Hungary). And a roadside gas station almost looked like our high-demand Costco gas stations. I’m guessing that being near the border causes folks to buy gas on the other side.

 I also photographed the ubiquitous WWI and WWII memorials, this one solemnly decorated with black tulips.

Day-13, Sun, May 8, Lebeny to Mosonmagyarovar

Sadly only 2 more walking days left. Most of today’s 12.6 mi. were coincident with the official Camino route. So it’s no wonder that on passing a large, highly mechanized dairy farm, one of the workers ran after me to offer me something in Hungarian. Then I heard the German word, Milch. After a few minutes he came out with a 1.5 Liter (a bit more than 1.5 qts) plastic bottle of chilled whole milk. I was in disbelief. I showered him with “köszönöm” many times over (thank you) and found a nearby spot to drink nearly all of it—warm milk just didn’t sound good. So grateful how the Camino provides.

Day-12, Sat, May 7, Györ to Lébény

My main focus was finding and picking those dedicated bicycle paths that make the walk next to the roads so much more enjoyable—success for most of the day‘s 14.9 miles (24 km). Some interesting encounters today included the unlikely event of seeing a train cross my path, a mother Church with her two children chapels, and a Wiener Schnitzel at Jimmy‘s Pizzeria (where I‘m staying)!

I’ve been spoiled having breakfast at all my places of lodging. Well, today there was no breakfast at Domus Peregrini and, although I figured something would be open, nothing was. I had visions of running out of energy and all that goes with that. In desperation, I found a very, very small corner store that was open and they fixed me up for the day. Turns out, I didn’t have to panic—a huge German Lidl grocery store was several blocks down the road.

I stumbled onto the Apple live-text feature—statue signage and signs are magically coming alive. I grab the text off of pictures and paste it into Google Translate (set up with Hungarian to English).

 

Day-11 Fri, May 6 Pannonhalma to Györ

IMG_1394  A dedicated bicycle-pedestrian path conveniently led from Pannonhalma directly to Györ (county seat of same name), a distance of 13.1 miles (21 km). I took a break at a roadside coffee shop that had a fascinating outside decor with a stretch-Trabant car as a centerpiece—I didn’t want to leave it. Notice also the huge production the bike path makes as it crosses a railroad!
Passing fields and several small villages, I entered the town of Györ through sprawling outskirts and eventually arrived at a pedestrian-only zone lined with restaurants and shops. I easily found my Domus Peregrini lodging, which consists of very spacious apartments for only  $40/night.

Györ just vibrates with energy, young and old, locals and clearly tourists. It didn’t take long for me to find a troupe of dancers lowered by ropes in front of a 5-story building and dancing against the building. Several thousand onlookers were standing in the plaza in front of the Györ National Theater. Check out these pics.

Day—10 Sabbatical at Pannonhalma

After 7 days of walking my pilgrimage from Budapest to Bratislava, I arrived at the town of Pannonhalma. The nexus between St Martin, born some 1700 years ago at the foot of a hill and the site chosen by Benedictine Monks to found a monastery in 996 is extraordinary. It would evolve into one of the most influential arch-abbeys of medieval Hungary. (The library’s over 400,000 works is awesome.) The nexus between Hungary and the Habsburgs appeared to me in the Basilica’s Crypt, namely the heart of former Crown Prince Otto of Austria and Hungary von Habsburg. It was buried here as recently as in July 2011. (BTW, it’s not unusual to find the heart buried at a location other than the body, which is traditionally found in the Capuchin Crypt in Vienna.)

After spending time in the Basilica, the library, and the winery (owned in large part by the Monastery and what an exceptional wine tasting experience!), I then spent hours researching Otto von Habsburg’s life—why? Because having roots in Vienna, I was interested in his views and influences—I was favorably impressed.

I finally walked a small portion of the actual Camino (well marked, as you can see). Most of my route, however,  was off trail on country highways due to lodging constraints. There is an albuerge here in Pannonhalma. I’m ready to move on.

Day-9 Wed, May 4, Bábolna to Pannonhalma

16.3 mi from Bábolna to Pannonhalma, mostly flat except at the end to climb up to the Basilica. The Abbey and Basilica became recognizable at nearly 9 miles away, literally hours before I arrived, and that made it magical.  So much history to this Abbey that was founded in 996. I reserved an extra day for visiting and will share those highlights tomorrow.

I’m staying just below the Abbey and that means a climb to visit it even though I went by it on way to my guesthouse. Made up for no breakfast and lunch with venison goulash, dumplings and a few glasses of bull’s blood (Egri Bikavér). )—it’s a real trat.

Day-8 Tue, May 3 Tata to Bábolna

Fifth day of walking in Hungary and here I am at Bábolna, a town of fewer than 4000 in a hotel that’s part of an agribusiness concern (fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides) as well as an off-site event Center. That all sounds good but there’s nothing here after 4:00 PM. A security guard registered me at the company‘s entrance then took me to another building that has about 16 rooms—it’s like a morgue! But I’m super happy that I had a big lunch and still have carry-out from breakfast—too tired to walk another half mile to a restaurant!

I opted out of walking 19.8 miles (32 kilometers) today and decided to take the bus for the first 6 miles (10 km). Main reason is that I‘m looking at 16 miles (25 km) tomorrow, which is OK since I‘ll stay at the famous pilgrim‘s venue, Pannonhalma, for two nights.

Sights for the day: my first platoon of windmills standing at attention and presenting arms—sad that they weren’t moving—probably not enough wind (need minimum of 9 mph)!; Almost took the wrong turn to the town of Dad; nice lunch; wrong impression arriving at the Park Hotel with all the cars—5 minutes later they were totally gone.

Day-6 to Tarjan

First of May, a national holiday practically everywhere in Europe, for sure in Hungary. That means no restaurants open for dinner, but with her foresight, the lady who met me at the 3-unit apartment in Tarjan had cold cuts and veggie toppings waiting for me (that was my option). Luckily a convenience store within the block sold canned beer. Ending a day’s walk, of any length and especially a 14 miler, without a beer is a bummer!

A few notable sights along the way: yellow rapeseed oil fields were already in full bloom (source of Canola vegetable oil, which BTW will soon be in short supply worldwide); crude 7-ft high fences along the road intend to keep deer from crossing; undulating hills made for interesting up and downs, including a 12% downhill that I had to climb again on the other side of the valley but not as steep.

Day-5 Walk to Zsámbék

What a cushy second day compared w/yesterday’s 18 miles: only walked 8 today to the town of Zsámbék—feeling guilty—I should do more! And for this I get rewarded by staying at a mini-spa with indoor pool and jacuzzi. This is pilgrim counter-culture.

Always looking for “funnies,” I found one—hilarious (and probably unplanned, totally asynchronous): there was a turn-off from my road into a driver’s camp, presumably a huge complex where you get to do your own thing behind the wheel, which can be deadly). Across this access road was a field statue of St. Christofer (patron Saint protecting against sudden death)—hmm.

Dinner at my hotel was a treat: although I opted for their scrumptious buffet, I had it with a glass of the historically famous bull‘s blood (Egri Bikavér) a Blend of blue frank, cabernet and merlot that the Turks used to ascribe the Hungarian‘s great strength in beating them at the 1552 siege of Eger. And I went overboard with the popular Hungarian poppy seed bread pudding (Mákos guba) with vanilla custard—had to have two of them!

Day-4 First Day of Walking

First day of my Hungarian Camino at a bit over 18 miles and 1300+ feet of climb (minus 167 feet by funiculars the start) crazy tiring, totally unplanned, the route and everything. Original hotel filled up, had to select one off-route. Chain Bridge over the Danube was closed due to repair that caused a 3-mile detour, and repairs up at the Buda Castle closed paths that added another mile. It seemed to take forever on the long not-too-steep incline leaving Budapest. Good thing is that I made it, although a bit wobbly at the end.

Had a lunch made from a rich assortment of breakfast cheeses/ meats. A brief beer stop to go with my sandwich saved me time. After a shower and two-hour nap, I was good to go eat at the restaurant downstairs. I‘m staying at a freeway hotel/restaurant with nothing else around except a gas station—it was the only thing available. I hit it off with an owner who spoke perfect German and did the del Norte Camino at age 18–the people you meet add so much to the experience.

Had to include a picture of the giant Ferris Wheel a few blocks from my trendy little hotel—its lights and all the people were a perfect “good night” to me after another goulash dinner with Spätzle.