Western Transdanubia

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Today was slated to be a hot day in this region, and it was.  With that in mind, we were up and out the door fairly early from our well manicured, almost Swiss feeling campground.  We said our farewells to our curious and impressed German RV-neighbor, and rolled out into a cloudless Austrian sky.

Our time in Austria was brief, though, and within 5 kilometers we crossed back into Slovenia.  This part of Slovenia, as is the case with both Austria and Hungary, has some rolling hills with roads that go straight up and over them.  The large fields of corn and squash are broken up by patches of light woods, and surprisingly brown rivers weave their way through the region.

Nearly as quickly as we left Austria behind, it came back and we pedaled once again through Austria for a final 25 km.  At that point, it was back to Slovenia.  It is hard to keep track of which borders are which here!  We even spotted an old, gruff looking farmer in an aging tractor, towing a trailer which contained his wife, black and white clad with a scarf over her head and sitting properly.  As Bree put it, “this place could get awesome in a hurry!”.

With 25 km to go, we finally stopped for lunch and then crossed our final international border of the day into western Transdanubia, Hungary.  We knew from the moment we rolled through that we were in trouble as far as understanding and getting around this place.  Even the sign that should of said “Hungary” was pretty much unintelligible to two unprepared, completely ignorant cycle tourists.

We arrived at camp after weaving through more light woods, as well as several stretches of farmland and small villages.  It is very clear that we are in the middle of Hungarian nowhere.  After stopping at a bank to find out about making an ATM withdrawal since they use the Forint here, we were directed either back 5 km or forward 11 km.  With only 5 km to go to camp, we took our chances going forward.

The hostess at camp was very friendly, in spite of the fact that we had a very difficult time communicating.  We got that we needed a space for a tent across, and we mimed that we were on bicycle.  I totally failed at “country of origin”, though.  Apparently USA got misinterpreted as USSR which is what our registration form now reads.  We didn’t even try to correct her.  The campsite is nice enough, though with a little more “wild” feel than in Slovenia or Austria.  It will be interesting to see as we head into a more developed region tomorrow what the sites will be like.

One of the biggest things that we notice when crossing a border is first – language.  That is a given.  Secondly, though, as soon as we cross a border the architecture seems to change.  Slovenia had fairly typical houses with pastel colors and what I can only describe as “crunched” gables, with illustrations high on the walls depicting saints or a soldier dumping water on a flaming building.  As soon as we set foot in Austria, however, the crunched gables disappeared and the styles became very simple and very brightly colored.  Hungary has been quite different, though.  In addition to the square boxes which are ubiquitous in western architecture, there are quite a few circular structures here, and a lot of really proportionally large roofs that you could climb onto without the need for a ladder.  Even the bus stops are round!

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