There’s No Place Like Home

By Jane Mountain | May 13, 2013

1795 km so far.

I didn’t like today. There, I said it.

I did not want to be on the bike. I did not want to be pedalling my ass off against nasty headwinds. I did not want to be in Hungary.

I wanted to be at home, in my bed, snuggled up with a good book and a cup of coffee.

There was no reason for it, no explanation, just a bad mood that I couldn’t shake and an overwhelming exhaustion. Most of the day, I listened to music and tried to get out of my head and shake my funk. Most of the day, Stephen tried to stay out of my way. Smart boy.

Fields Of Gold

We cycled from an underwhelming campground in Lenti, just inside Hungary, to an even less whelming campground in Keszthely, on Lake Balaton. (We do not recommend Zala Kemping, with their grouchy receptionist who seemed annoyed we interrupted her knitting and their ‘one wifi password per tent’ policy.)

statue in hungary

Exactly how I felt today.

From the first few kilometres, it was immediately clear that we were in a different country. The entire 70 km today was past huge fields of rape seed, wheat, and tiny seedlings, just sprouting out of the freshly turned ground. This is the first time since we left home that we’ve seen agriculture on this scale. There are gently rolling hills interspersed with vast swaths of flat flat land, reminding me of the fields where I grew up, near Grande Prairie, Alberta.

It is astonishingly beautiful. The pale yellow rape seed provided the perfect contrast to the bright blue sky. Rich brown newly sown fields attested to the fertility of the land. Bright green wheat looked so soft and plushy, you’d think they were growing fur for a new Gund green bear.

I wanted to throw away the bike and collapse into the blankety softness.

wide sky hungary

A sky so huge you could drown in it.

The length of the street signs were another hint we’d come to a new country.

road sign in hungary with very long word

Try saying this even once.

Buffetted, Battered, and Bedevilled

Aside from the beauty, the landscape also provided the perfect place for winds to whip up and rip across the fields. At times, the crosswinds were so strong, we had to lean heavily to one side, just to stay upright. At other times, the headwinds pushed so hard, it was like someone had tilted the whole world. Pedalling downhill was like riding on flat lands, flat roads took uphill strength, and uphills… arrrgh.

At times I expected to be whisked away to the land of Oz.

A photo of the wind. Can you see it?

A photo of the wind. Can you see it?

There were a couple of blissful kilometres where events would conspire to give us a downhill with a tailwind, and then we flew along with no effort at all.

It was during these kilometres that my dark mood brightened and I was able to start enjoying the beauty and freedom of our trip again. By the time we reached camp, I was happy, but still tired. Stephen set everything up as I lay in the grass and then I climbed into the tent and fell fast asleep.

A True Cultural Experience

If it wasn’t for hunger, I could have happily stayed there all night. But we needed food, so an exploration of Keszthely was in order. We discovered that Tesco is now in Hungary, and the Tesco in Keszthely is one of those giant mega-stores with almost everything you could need, including clothing, hardware, and TVs for sale.

Both dizzy from hunger, we wandered around picking up donuts, chips, and other bad-for-you snacks. We hoped they’d have some kind of pre-made meals, like they do in Britain, that we could just grab and eat.

No luck, until we left the store and saw a Mrs. Kebab hut in the parking lot. She had all kinds of falafel options on the menu, and some nice ladies who were also ordering from her helped us understand our options. As we stood in the giant Tesco parking lot, eating our falafels (which were pretty tasty) alongside some locals, we decided we were having a true Hungarian experience.

Soundtrack: Chris T-T, Capital | Common Prayer, There Is A Mountain | The National, High Violet | plus Jane’s iTunes on shuffle  

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  1. Comment by Davrick

    Davrick May 15, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Haha, after reading the last paragraph, today’s entry kind of reminds me of the movie The Avengers – particularly the post-credits scene of our battle-exhausted heroes in the shawarma shop.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane May 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Totally! Even superheroes need to eat.

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