Through The Woods To Hungary

By Jane Mountain | May 12, 2013

1721 km so far.

This morning we said goodbye to the family Guilloteau, who, it turns out, met up with David and Collette back in Postojna (touring cyclists of the world unite!) and we headed out of Ptuj, towards Hungary.

Just outside Ptuj, Pocket Earth was telling us to go one way, and the road signs were clearly saying to go another. I have become used to this because when PE is set to bike routing it sends us on the road less travelled. Often, this means a longer route, but fewer trucks flying past. It also means we tend to see things most car tourists miss.

We would never see this great bus stop on the tourist route!

We would never see this great bus stop on the tourist route!

Riding through farmland just past this junction, we spotted a country estate. Dornava Mansion (which we didn’t stop to photograph) is an impressive Baroque mansion. It sat in stark contrast to the farm houses and fields all around it, and reminded us of the many Loire valley chateaux we have toured, with manicured lawns and a long, tree-lined road leading to it.

What Was That Bang?

While stopped to check the map in deepest rural Slovenia, we heard the unmistakable sound of gun fire. A lot of it. If we had heard similar in our old neighbourhood, Highland Park, Los Angeles, the heart of gangland, we would have run away, quickly. Today, we did the opposite.

5900 km from where?

900 km from where?

We rode towards it. Down a dirt road there was an ad hoc parking lot filled with cars. There, at the end of the muddy road, we discovered a skeet shooting competition in full swing. Everyone was dressed in Barbour, or the Slovenian equivalent, and a row of trophies were lined up, awaiting the winners.

guns in hungary

Me, my pal, and our guns.

Sadly this wasn’t the UK, so instead of locally brewed bitter tapped and waiting for us, there was the ubiquitous Laško, in bottles. We declined.

We watched for a few minutes, shot a few rounds of our own (photos), and were stared at in amazement by the locals. I don’t normally condone any sort of gun use, but watching the men hit, almost always in a single shot, a tiny flying neon orange disc as it sped away from them was mighty impressive.

Road To Nowhere

And then, Pocket Earth led us astray. We figured it couldn’t be right when it told us to take a dirt country road across the border to Hungary where there wasn’t an official border crossing, and where no road appeared on Jane’s paper map. Then again, since Slovenia and Hungary are both EU countries, we decided it might be possible, and that we should try it. After all, wouldn’t it be cool if we crossed the border on a bike path or tiny farm road?

Sadly, the dirt road ended in a grassy field literally at the border, with a sign a few feet away which we assume said “Don’t even think about it”. So, we went back from whence we’d come and took a slight detour to an actual border crossing. There were some old official-looking buildings, some men standing around, and a wide open road for us to ride on. No seemed to care who we were or where we were going.

I am amazed how quickly 75 km goes by these days. I remember when that seemed like an incredible distance to ride. Now, it seems to be over before I even get tired. We left Ptuj around 9:30 this morning. We checked into the campground in Lenti at 4:20 pm.

A very Hungarian landscape.

A very Hungarian landscape.

Lenti has its own thermal hot springs, and staying at the campground gave us access to the pools. Sadly, they close at 7:00 pm, so we had to quickly set up the tent and get over there. They were totally different from Ptuj. No waterslide, and mostly elderly locals in the various pools. The water in the pools varied in temperature and colour. The darker the water, the more minerally and hotter the pool. We sampled the pools, indoor and out. We messed around doing some crazy underwater yoga poses in the clear outdoor pool, which got us a few stares, but was fun nonetheless. We worked out a few cycling kinks and then headed back to cook dinner.

I Am The Mosquito Sacrifice

With mosquitos everywhere at the campground, we were lucky to have access to a gas stove inside where I was able to prepare food. It has been rare on our trip to have a stove available at campgrounds, and it makes cooking much easier, as I am able to use more than one burner at a time, and water boils much faster than on our camping stove. We tried to eat outside, but the mosquitos drove us inside the tent. Not the ideal place for a comfortable meal, but better than becoming the meal ourselves.

Yoga tip of the day: Things are only annoying if you let them be annoying.

Soundtrack: Calvin Harris, 18 Months | Atoms For Peace, AMOK | Beulah, The Coast Is Never Clear  

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