Surprise, We’re In Baja!

By Stephen Ewashkiw | May 20, 2013

2101 km so far.

And here you thought I meant California. Hungary has its own Baja, which sadly isn’t quite as sun-baked and sandy as California’s.

Myth Busters

When we were in Pécs, we asked Mirko about the EuroVelo 6 and he replied, “I think that’s more of a myth.” We’d also read blogs written by people who had ridden it this year and they described it as muddy, impassible, and non-existent. Ever the adventurers, we decided to give it a go.

The EuroVelos are a network of routes through Europe that have been officially recognised as bike routes and in some cases officially sign-posted. Sometimes they are dedicated cycle paths, sometimes they are on public roadways. A lot of times, they don’t make much sense, an in Croatia, where the EV8 ran inland along a high mountain pass instead of following the breathtakingly gorgeous coast on the relatively flat route we took.

Before leaving Mohacs, we had a look around the town and stopped for another taste of the kremdessert we’d had last night at the town’s cake shop.

Then we took a small ferry across the Danube.

Leaving the small ferry in Újmohács, we saw a path off to the left along the river that Galileo (a mapping app that shows the EV routes when Pocket Earth fails to) assured us would meet up with the official EV6. It did. Initially, it was a nice ride along the top of a levee separating the farmland on our right from the Danube on our left.

At first we rode on slightly rough packed earth, which was pretty dry, despite the torrential rain of last night. About 5 km in, it turned into a smooth paved track, which was a nice surprise.

About 15 km further on… road closed. There was a bar across the path, a man with a car (who we suspected was there to tell us not to enter but may have just been stuck on the wrong side of the bar with his car), and thick construction sand on the surface.

The good news: work is afoot to improve the cycle path. The bad news: we couldn’t get through.

Detour De Force

So we had to backtrack. We found a country road to take us through wheat and soya fields, and although the rain of last night had made the road muddy in parts, we were encouraged by the tire tracks we could see indicating two bikers had gone before us earlier today.

Our initial off-road experience in Umbria has made us (a little) smarter and willing to handle a bit of mud.

We have rules now: if we have to carry our bikes to get through, we go back; if we need to build a bridge to get through, we go back; if we have to ford any kind of stream, we go back. None of these happened today. Just one minor wipe-out when Jane misjudged how slick the surface would be, a few mucky potholes dodged, and we eventually made it back to the EV6.

The path was more firm than it had been when we encountered the closed sign, but it was still sandy. For a few kilometres, we knew we couldn’t stop or we wouldn’t get started again with our heavy bikes on the soft surface. We doubt we would have made it with smaller, less knobbly tires.

So we pedalled on. Before long the road works eased, but not before cars had joined us on what I had assumed was a bike-only path.

Car on the EuroVelo 6.

Car on the EuroVelo 6.

It turns out that sections of the levee are for bikes, but most of it is open to cars. Since we only saw three or four cars in 40 km of riding, I suppose we can share the road…

Bound For Baja

We had lunch at an empty soccer pitch on the edge of the Danube, where some local teenage girls tried to talk to us.

“Hello!” they said. “Hello,” we said. “What is your name?” “Jane.” “Facebook?” “Uh… Facebook?” Then they giggled and went back to giving each other shoulder massages. Yes, really.

The EV6 dumped us out onto a double lane road, which wasn’t so bad. This being the countryside and a holiday Monday, there was almost no traffic and before we knew it we arrived in Baja. Yup, we are in Baja. There is even a Mexican restaurant here playing up on the similarity of their name to the more famous town in California/Mexico, but our Slovenian Mexican experience kept us from trying it.

Mexican in Baja, Hungary.

Mexican in Baja, Hungary.

We have just pitched our tent on the shore of the Danube while most other campers here are packing up and heading home after their long weekend. This may be the earliest yet we have made camp, but we’ve decided to take it slowly up the Danube to Budapest. We don’t need to be there for another week and it’s less than 200 km away.

As we were eating dinner another bike tourist arrived. We were surprised to hear an American accent, as we haven’t met any other North Americans in Europe yet. Eric has been cycling for the past eight months and has only six weeks left on his journey. He was able to pass on some useful tips, like checking out AirBnB (which we have totally forgotten to do) and to always have a bottle of wine on hand. He has a fantastic wine rack for his bike, made in Montréal by Oopsmark. Sadly it is made with new leather, or else I would totally be buying one. We plan to meet up with Eric in a few days when we are all in Budapest.

How Do You Say…

Our mix-up yesterday at lunch was one of many confusions we have had over language in Hungary. Despite Lonely Planet assuring us that “it’s surprisingly easy to pronounce”, I have been running into problems. Maybe one of you can help?

Whenever I order food or drinks I prefer to make an attempt in the local language. In Hungary, more than usual, I have been met with blank stares. This has been happening to Jane as well, so it’s not just my weird Ontario-Vancouver-London-Los Angeles accent. We know the word, or in the case of beer, the brand, and we say it. This is almost always followed by the “I have absolutely no idea what you just said” blank stare.

For example, yesterday in Mohács, I ordered an Edelweiss, a German weiss beer that is considerably better than Hungarian lager. How hard could it be to order? I know how to say Edelweiss and it is on the menu. “Egy Edelweiss,” I ordered. Blank look. “Edelweiss. Beer. Sör.” Blank look. I picked up the menu and pointed to Edelweiss on the menu. “Ah, Edelweiss,” she replied. To my ears, it sounded exactly the way I said it. WTF?!

After discovering this phenomenon, we have been testing it out. Even universal words such as cappuccino have failed to work in certain instances, and pointing at the menu is the only option.

Because of this, Jane has completely given up learning Hungarian, but I am determined to carry on until I can order a beer.  

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Hi, I’m Stephen, full-time travelling yoga teacher & founder of Adventure Yoga. I’ve taught yoga in 25 countries and have had adventures in 50! At My Five Acres, we inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.

8 comments

  1. Comment by Attila HOFFEREK

    Attila HOFFEREK Reply September 11, 2017 at 5:19 am

    I would like to apologize in the name of all hungarians, for the extreme poor quality of the ev6 in hungary. The bad news is that the situation didn’t change since then. I will ride from Budapest to Baja this week, and I collected informations about the actual situation. Nothing changed. NOTHING. Except one thing, our government founded the bicycle ministry to steal the money designated to build bike route paths.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 13, 2017 at 12:10 am

      Oh no, I can’t believe the improvements we saw underway didn’t go anywhere. We did hear similar complaints about the government while we were there… it’s similar in many countries where they think a few “bike lane” signs are enough!! Enjoy the ride nonetheless. It’s more of an adventure when the bike paths are terrible!!

      J

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  4. Comment by Cassie

    Cassie Reply May 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Hmm, interesting about the pronunciation thing. That blank stare happened in Russia a lot, except they were doing it on purpose (so said our Russian companion) due to dislike of dealing with foreigners. Keep trying! A big smile always makes up for any mispronunciation :)

    • Comment by Mauricio

      Mauricio May 25, 2013 at 7:55 am

      In addition, I know a few Hungarians who think that it is impossible for anyone else to learn Hungarian. But like Cassie mentioned, smile

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane May 26, 2013 at 1:19 am

      Now that we’ve heard and tried some of the proper pronunciation, we are appreciating how hard it is. We still try, and point, and smile, and they laugh at our attempts and eventually we get what we want!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane May 26, 2013 at 1:27 am

      In Hungary, there’s definitely no hostility, and generally people make a major effort to understand. They just… can’t. The vowel sounds are so complicated, I’m sure we are nowhere near to the correct sounds.

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