Our visit to Hungary begins in Sopron, which we enter in the evening. As it turns out, we messed up the address of the camping site and now can’t find it. It’s getting late, too late to go outside the city. We feel a bit tired and discouraged and sit down outside at an open restaurant. We didn’t have time to change money yet and they don’t accept credit cards. We’re worried that we’re poaching their internet and somebody might get upset. Instead, people come up to us and smile, play with Lima, try to start up a conversation, bring us free coffee and ask if the connection’s ok. Such openess makes us feel all gooey and warm inside, we soften up and easily find accommodation with a jolly host. Hey, this Sopron’s nice!
In the Czech Republic there were kopce (hills), in Slovakia we had to push the bicycles over sandy paths, in Austria it blew – so, what problems are we going to come up with this time? In Hungary there’s nothing to complain about because it’s flat and the wind doesn’t try to blow us into a ditch, but after a while it just gets boooring. Fields, more fields and roads crossing at right angles. Corn dominates the landscape, with timid accompaniment of pumpkins and sunflowers. Such an uneventful terrain becomes a camping challenge and one night we find ourselves pitching tent in a dense forest that’s permeated with an odor of wild animals. We are brought awake throughout the night by roars of (what we suppose to be) deer. Yet, our tempo quickens and the swifter movement along the map fills us with optimism.
This time we’ll treat Hungary as a transit country. We zoom through forgotten villages while the sun fries our forearms and legs. The short visit here gets a splendid finale of being hosted by stupendous people who offer us a tiny house to rest in. Doris and Janez, a couple of Slovenian-Hungarian cyclists, treat us to home-made meals and share stories from their interesting lives. When one of them lost work, they decided to set up a camping site for cyclists in the yard behind their house. In addition to the grassy plot surrounded by a cornfield, they only needed a summer kitchen and a bathroom. Though in the meantime work came around, the place for cyclists stayed. They like company, so they take care of those needing a shower or a place to relax. Lately, they’ve been hosts to one or even two travelers a week. “You don’t want to make money this way?,” I ask Janez. “Why? We don’t live in luxury but we’ve got all we need.”