This is my seventh bike touring blog update from cycling from England to South Africa. This update covers the section between Budapest in Hungary and Carta in Romania.
Cycling from Budapest to Carta
This bike touring blog update documents the ride from Budapest to Carta. It was written as I cycled back in 2006, and as you'll probably see is a bit rough around the edges!
Day 40 Budapest 31/08/06 Thurs
Not a lot to report. Spent the day surfing net and watching films as I waited for my clothes to dry.
Day 41 Cycling from Budapest – ??? 01/09/06 Friday
Wow… another new month! Doesn't time just fly by? Although the last two days have been overcast and blustery, there wasn't a cloud in the sky when I set off in the morning.
It was still windy at times, but nothing compared to the gale force winds which had been ripping through the campsite and threatening to lift the tent off the floor!
Although it was only really one day off from cycling, it still felt too long, and I couldn't wait to get going again. That's the feeling I like most from travelling… the actual movement of it.
Some people look forwards to the destinations, but the train/bus/car/in this case cycling parts of it are the best bits for me.
Knowing that you are going somewhere new, and not really knowing what to expect when you arrive. Being able to look at the countryside, and the different styles of houses.
Cycling out of Budapest
Anyway, I managed to find all the right roads first time, which is probably a never to be repeated first when leaving a city for me!
The traffic was heavy for the first 15 kms or so, and I shared the cycling between hopelessly rough pavements with giant potholes, and hopelessly busy roads, with giant potholes.
As I moved further out though, the traffic thinned, and the quality of the air improved. I headed towards the town of Rackeve, where according to my map there was a campsite.
Alas, it had long been closed down, so I decided to push on towards Kecskemet, thinking that I would probably have to camp rough somewhere near Kisunsagi National Park.
Finding a campsite
As luck would have it (according to some, I am a jammy little bleeder), I saw a signpost pointing out a campsite halfway between Kiskunlachaza and Domsod, so I dived in there.
It appears to be some sort of fishing park, with a campsite attached. At 1000 Forints (4 Euros) its a bargain, and I was the only person camping.
Strangely, I even managed to get an internet connection from the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere. By the way, I must point out that a lot of these place names have dots and dashes over the vowels, but I can't do that easily on my laptop.
Day 42 Cycling from ??? – Fulophaza Sat 02/09/06
I left the campsite at about nine, and began cycling first to the town of Domsod, and then for Tass. From there, I had intended to cut straight across to Kecskemet, but I couldn't find a road signposted, so I instead headed down to Szabadszallas, and afterwards, joined route 52 to Kecskemet.
It was a Saturday, so the roads were relatively quiet, but the quality of them still left a lot to be desired. The heavy goods vehicles have created huge ruts, or tram lines in the road, and pushed the asphalt up on the edges.
This means that as a cyclist the fastest part of the road is in one of the ruts, where the tarmac is smoothest, as the pushed up sections on the edge are not navigable.
The only drawback to this, is when a HGV comes thundering up behind you, as it gives you two choices. 1. Move over onto the raised bit, close your eyes, and pray. or 2. Keep your line, close your eyes, and pray.
Seriously, its not quite that bad… after a while, you give up praying altogether.. it's important to close you eyes though!! The Hungarian drivers are pretty good though, and will give you a lot of room if they can.
Pushing the bike through sand
I stopped off at a garage for a vital coke and chocolate refill, and set off again. 70kms into my journey, I saw a sign for a campsite on the turning to Fulophaza, and decided to go for it.
I'm still not sure if it was the right decision or not. Don't get me wrong, the campsite was very nice, and I paid a little extra for an evening meal and breakfast which was worth it.
The road towards the campsite, however, degenerated into a sand track. The photo shows a happy Dave Briggs pushing my bike and taking a photo at the same time… aren't I clever?!
The squiggly lines are my unsuccessful attempts at cycling in the sand. Some sections I could, some I couldn't. It did make me think how I would cope with Sudan later in the bike tour!
I got to the campsite in the end though. Nuff said. The place itself was a horse ranch run by Germans for Germans and Dutch, and it goes without saying I was the only person on a bicycle. Treated myself to a couple of beers and slept like a baby.
Day 43 Cycling from Fulophaza – Cserkeszolo Sunday 03/09/06
I made the most of the breakfast, which I needed, as I had to slog back through the sand to the main road again. Half an hour to cover 4km – I can still feel the joy.
When I eventually hit tarmac, my speed soon picked up again though, and I started pacing along strongly. Once in Kecskemet, I got onto route 44, which will be my friend now until the border with Romania.
I met up with a couple of cyclists who were travelling together on the way. They had just spent some time in Poland, and were going to pick up the Danube and follow it to the Black Sea.
I carried on until Cserkeszolo, and saw a signpost for a campsite. I'd done 70kms, and I can easily make the border in one day, so I decided to dive in.
It's quite pricey, but includes free use of the thermal pools (which I can't be arsed too). Had a marvellous lunch with every meat represented and a small step ladder to climb.
I'm making the most of the electricity with my laptop, as I get the feeling things are about to change when I enter Romania. Forgot to mention that I stopped off at a roadside fruit stall and asked for five peaches, which the woman let me have for free. Thank you very much!
Day 44 Cycling from Cserkeszolo – Gyula Monday 04/09/06
I got an early start, but managed to leave my cycling computer wrapped up in my tent, so no boring statistics for today, which I'm sure is going to disappoint thousands of readers (thousands???).
The weather was really hot and humid all day, so I made a couple of stops at garages for drinks. I basically followed route 44 to Gyula, and there were sporadic sections of quality cycling lanes which was a bonus.
In Gyula, I went to the scummier of the two campsites, as the crazy old lady who ran it only wanted 1250 florint a night. (and she really was proper crazy).
When I had set up, I checked the bike over, and discovered a shard of glass lodged in the rear tyre. It hadn't caused a puncture, because iIhave Schwalbe Marathon XR tyres with Kevlar to stop that sort of thing, but it had split the tyre slightly. It was too late in the day to do anything about it, so i decided to sleep on the problem.
Day 45 Gyula Tuesday 05/09/06
A somewhat sleepless night as my subconscious tried unsubtly to wrestle with the tyre problem. I decided a day off cycling was in order, and I rode into town to find a bicycle shop.
The third shop had a tyre of the correct size, but to call it a useless piece of crap would only be to describe its finer points.
I decided that I had to have it anyway, and then got the shop to swap my front and rear tyres around. By putting the rear tyre on the front, I judge it as easier to change should I have to, and it would be carrying less weight.
Even though the tyre would have a rip in it, I still considered it superior to the new one. The also gives me a higher quality Marathon XR on the back with a fair bit of tread left on it… enough to get me to Istanbul at least.
The whole deal cost only 6 euros, although i would have preferred to have paid more, and bought the Marathon tires. I have a spare tyre now, which is something I would have to have bought anyway, although I hope i don't have to use it, as it doesn't look as though it would last more than a day!
I visited the castle in Gyula, which is worth spending half an hour in if you have nothing better to do like me, and had a free use of the internet in the library to read some emails. Couldn't update any my sites though.
It was another outrageously hot day, so I also did a lot of drinking and eating. Posted back a bundle maps which should reduce the weight I carry significantly! Also filled the hole in the tyre with a cut up puncture repair patch and some of the glue.. Not sure if its a good idea or not, but we'll see!
Day 46 Cycling fromGyula – Vladimirescu Wed 06/09/06
Got a good start, and it was a simple border crossing into Romania. I also got the first stamps in my passport of the trip.
After crossing the border, the road turned rougher, and a swirling wind blew against me during the 35 kms to Chrisneu Cris.
When I reached the town, I decided to turn right at the junction and continue on to Arad. Ironically, as I passed Arad i got a puncture after all, in the tyre I considered to be the safe one… the rear tyre.
As luck would have it though, I was right outside a motel. I had done my kms for the day, so I decided to book in. The motel cost 80 lei, or about 25 euros, but what the hell. I changed the inner tube and found the culprit – a three inch nail. No marathon XR was going to stop that!
Although I'd changed some money at the border, because of the motel price, I needed to change some more, so I caught the tram into Arad. Got the cash, had a muckie D used the internet briefly and got the tram back. Mum and then Steve called in the evening… wow!! Hopefully, tomorrow will be high mileage low hassle day!
Day 47 Cycling from Vladimirescu – Zam Thurs 07/09/06
Had a good breakfast at the motel, and set off for about 9.30. (I am now in a different time zone by the way). It was another hot un, and an unhelpful wind slowed me down at the start.
Although I was still in a plains area, the ground was sloping upwards as I near the mountains. The road I've chosen to follow has so far meandered through a valley between a river to my right, and tree covered hill to my left.
Its a bit up and downy (stop me if I'm being too technical), and the traffic isn't too bad. The lorries sound their horns to let you know that they are approaching, and they will move over if they have room, but its not always possible.
It was an event free day, and also a high mileage day, so job done there, but I've ended up staying in another motel though, as campsites are a bit sparse, and there didn't look anywhere suitable to wild camp.
I was going to go for the cheaper, no shower option of room, but the woman looked at me and said in Romanian ‘Are you sure?'. A good sign that I was Mr. Stinky today! I took the room with the shower, but the water is cold. Arse.
Day 48 Cycling from Zam – Uroi Friday 08/09/06
A pretty good nights sleep. Sometimes, its just so tempting to say bollocks to it and lay in all day, but it won't put many miles on the clock, so up and at em!
After a cheap but filling breakfast, I got underway, and soon realised that I might be a bit higher than I thought as I cycled through a cloud.
Some more hill sections, but I've still yet to come across a major ascent. Stopped off in Deva for a McDonalds (essential cyclist nutrition), and carried on through to Simeria, where a sign pointed off the main road toa village called Uroi and a campsite.
I was the only person there, as I think I am slightly out of the traditional tourist season. Cycled into town for a pizza, which made it three cooked meals and a tent site for less than a tenner. Bargain.
Steve phoned during the night (hey, we're two hours ahead here dude, and I go to bed at 8.00 !!) to say he's booked his flight to Istanbul, so its all systems go for a weekend of carnage. (I mean culture and sight seeing). Just means I have to cycle a bit faster now to meet him in time!
Day 49 Cycling from Uroi – Garbova 09/09/06 Sat
I had breakfast at the campsites restaurant before I left, which again was a cheap meal. It seems pointless trying to locate shops for do it yourself meals when the food is so cheap and somebody else can cook it for you. I'm still having my regular evening meal of tuna and pasta though!
Not a lot to report from the road. Stopped off for lunch somewhere. Carried on. tarmac, potholes, lorries, up, down, wind.
About 75kms into the day, I saw a signpost pointing off the main road to a campsite in Garbova, so I went for it. Was the only one there again.
I had a good view of the surrounding hills, and people on horse and carts were returning to the village from the outlaying fields.
Its obviously hay making season, and whole families are in the fields with sythes. When the hay is cut, they use pitchforks to pile the hay into conical, hut like piles. Other than a deer following me into the toilet, nothing untoward happened today.
Day 50 Cycling from Garbova – Carta 10/09/06 Sun
Day 50 !!! Wowsers. I was the only person staying on the campsite again. They sorted me out with a massive breakfast, that I was more than willing to pay extra for, including a tip for the girl who got woken up especially to make it for me! 20 lei well spent there.
I think I called it a day at the right point yesterday, as I seem to have spent most of the day climbing. The first hour and a bit towards Sibiu was almost all uphill, and there were some big uns!
I met some Polish lads who are cycling to Athens here's their website for the trip they did last year www.nordkapp2005.republika.pl .
They seemed like a nice enough bunch of chaps, but I was a touch hungry, and had to stop off at a restaurant, although they carried on in the direction I will be taking, so our paths may cross again.
At km 87, I saw another sign for a campsite at a village off the road called Carta or Cirta depending on which sign you read. Whoever said there wasn't any campsites in Romania?
Oh yes, whilst I remember, when I was waiting for my meal in the restaurant, a Phil Collins/Celine Dion medley, a panpipe version, drifted over from the speakers. Can you imagine anything more tortuous??
More blog posts from this bike tour
If you would like to read more blog posts from the bike tour from England to South Africa, use the links below.