Danube Day 1: Budapest to Rackeve
Total Distance 66km
See end of post for map, elevation profile, and GPX file.
Trip overview can be found here.
Biking around Budapest is hectic. While the city may claim to be a “bicycle city” like any major city in which you don’t know your way around, biking can be a challenge. On the whole I was very impressed with the number of bike lanes and bike paths but unimpressed with the status of the network, that is, the ease of getting from here to there by bike lane.
In Budapest we met up with our friends Sarah, Andrew and Yoshi and began our journey south along the Hungarian Danube. From what we had read the EuroVelo 6 is very well marked from the Danube’s source until Budapest and after that it slowly deteriorates in markings and road quality as the river winds its way to the Black Sea. We did very little planning before we met up with our friends in Budapest. Andrew had a Danube cycle route map book and we had “the Don” our trusty GPS so we figured we would get through no problem.
We met up at a museum at the southern end of town and had a little planning session over cappuccinos and cakes. Everyone was excited and we were throwing ideas out left and right. “Let’s go to Slovenia instead.” “I hear Sofia, Bulgaria is awesome.” “You know, I have always wanted to see Lake Balaton.” Taking advantage of the museum’s wifi we explored our options but in the end (an hour later) decided we’d do this Danube route after all.
Leaving Budapest was only moderately hectic. We were mostly on shared roads, some had bike paths or routed bikes on sidewalks but most of them weren’t wide enough for the trailer. At Lakihegy we turned towards the East and after 10 km we saw our first EV6 sign. From that point the path we followed was well marked by the EV6 signs. We left the marked route a few times to find a campsite or dinner but we always rejoined the route.
Touring in our small group, our tandem plus three single bikes, has been a blast. From the safety perspective we are way more visible on the road and being surrounded by friends makes the days fly by. I was a bit concerned with having so many bikes, thinking that someone would be stopping every few minutes but we have easily found a good pace for ourselves and we’re getting along great.
When we head out of cities we don’t set huge mileage targets. Usually it’s enough to get out of the city and into the countryside. Our first day on the road we made it out of Budapest in no time. We continued into the cornfields sailing along the flat Danube plains. Winding through smaller villages we were constantly greeted by aggressive barking dogs, but I was glad to see that they were properly fenced in or tied up.
We stopped to refill our water bottles and use the bathroom at a gas station. We started debating about sitting down for a late lunch when we noticed a pizza place directly across the street. It was unanimous. We ordered one “Mexican” pizza with ground beef, corn, chili peppers and sour cream and another called Lee with salami, pepperoni, ground beef, sausage, AND bacon. And the bacon was mostly huge cubic centimeters of fat. It was delicious and after a day of biking we devoured it all.
After said pizza and accompanying beer we lost most of our motivation to continue (common problem when you mix cycle touring with beer) and we looked for a place to camp. On our tour through France and Belgium we used the GPS to find campsites along the way, but Garmin support for Eastern Europe was lacking and relying on the Don to find accommodations/campsites was not going to work. Without specific campsites to head to we looked for a place to camp in the forest. We were not really confident stealth camping on our last trip, but in our big group we felt okay.
We passed by a pretty big stand of trees between corn fields outside of Ráckeve and Andrew went into the forest to assess camping potential. The verdict was good and we pushed our bikes through bushes to get out of sight from the road. We found flat spots to pitch the tents and made some tea to celebrate our first day. It was dusk and the mosquitos were out in force. Andrew had brought his ukulele and pulled it out.
Briana started to make up some lyrics for him to play to. It went something like “can you dream about a world without mosquitoes, without blood sucking insects of any kind…” Everyone pitched in with other lyrics and we had a pretty good song down. It was dark now and we decided to crawl into the tents. So far everything was better than expected and we fell asleep dreaming about a world without mosquitoes or blood sucking insects of any kind.
Here is a link to the GPX file (right-click, save as).
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