Our 10th country – Hungary

Thursday, 14th June 2018

Dave posting,

A small amount of planning for today took place over breakfast here in Osijek, Croatia.

Hungary will be the 10th country we have visited on this tour. As we travelled northwards through Croatia to the Udvar border crossing, we need to spend our last bit of cash – 225 kuna’s before entering Hungary, so we will top up our LPG refillable system and buy diesel with the remaining kuna’s in Croatia.

A few days ago one of the LPG bottles ran out, I go to the external locker and open the valve on bottle No.2  Each bottle holds 21.5 litres. It’s my choice but I never have both bottles open as the consumption is then shared and I can’t tell how much is left until they run out simultaneously, this is not a good idea!

At fuel stations I always ask if its okay to fill up on LPG as most times the station staff have to do it, I haven’t filled it up myself yet in Europe. The lady puts 28 litres in at 66p a litre.

I last topped up the LPG in Verona on 12th April, two months ago. We use LPG gas for all our cooking, hot water for showers and we switch the fridge on to gas every time we stop for a rest, sight-seeing or shopping and whenever we don’t have electric hook up. We had the heating on for one hour on the day we got soaked at the Black Lake. I reckon the LPG is very economical, it works out at an average of half a litre of LPG day, so 33 pence a day. With the remaining kunas I bought some diesel at 9.80k per litre (£1.16).

Soon after we are at the back of a long queue of trucks in a single file with no room to pass very near at the border, a few minutes later there’s a knock at the window, and a local man who was working at the side of the road gestures to us to drive around the lorry, off we go on the wrong side of the road passing lots of trucks and we join the end of a separate queue of cars, we couldn’t see the cars from where we were behind the trucks. We wait and we wait, the queue is not moving, we saw one car at the head of the queue go through after 25 mins, there are lots of border control men and women about and also customs too, this might be a long wait because there is at least 11 vehicles in front of us!

Hooray! we are in Hungary after waiting 40 minutes at the border control, usually there’s a strip of no-mans land between the two countries border posts but not here at Udvar, the Croatian guard inspects our passports and then passed them to his Hungarian colleague he is sat next to! We have never seen that before, the Hungarian guard came out and looked through the windscreen through to the back of the van asking if we have any immigrants?!! before handing back our passports and waving us through.

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The roads are reasonable as they divide the huge plains and fields of wheat and vegetable crops on both sides, it looks like the Vale of Evesham on a massive scale with lots of grain trucks, tractors & farm machinery used to cultivate and move the fresh produce to market. The landscape is flat as we head towards Mohacs, we see a large logo on the side store that we haven’t seen for 10 weeks……..Tesco! We are almost excited and we have to go to it. Once in the store we try to calculate and understand the HUF (Hungarian Forint – Ft) to GBP conversion, so we find its approx 350 HUF (Ft) to £1, now that’s easy to work out as we go isn’t it! Lol! Our grocery bill was 10,973 Ft! but that’s only about £30.

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3000 HUF is £8.14 !

Luckily for us we soon see a truck stop with services, we need to empty our loo, there is also fresh water and the toilets are very clean and automated, for anyone travelling on this road the GPS is N45.97832 E 018.53420, it’s on the M60 between Udvar border and Pecs.

In Pécs we’ve located 2 free spots to stay but at the first one we can’t find a long enough bay to squeeze in to (we are 6 metres long) off to the second choice but that didn’t feel right, it’s on the busy and noisy junction of two main roads and the charges are 600huf (£2) per hour (for vehicles over 5.5 metres) between 8am and 8pm but no charges overnight, there are cameras looking directly at us and we’ve already spent 10 minutes deciding, Cathy’s getting stressed about being fined after we drive off!

We want to spend the day looking around Pécs tomorrow but don’t want to spend our money on day parking at £2 per hour so it makes sense to move on and find a camp site, we pull up the info we had entered into Sat Naff yesterday and select Camping Familia only 4kms away.

The camp site is behind a LIDL, we can see the site entrance for camping Familia from the LIDL car park, we stop to buy a few bits, whilst shopping in the store Cathy asked the staff if we can stay the night after making our purchases, she got passed to another staff member, then the manager and the lady said yes it’s ok!

It was a quiet night after the tobacconist also located in the car park had closed, we have never see so many people buying cigarettes! One every minute it seems! the incidence of lung disease must be bad here? the same tobacconist sells bus tickets, the price for one person one way was 300 huf (Ft) about 0.90 pence, they run every 10 mins from outside LIDL! (both No.2 & No.4 bus go to the centre)

In Pécs we study the wall mounted street map to get our bearings, we already have an idea of what we would like to see. The atmosphere is one of quiet peacefulness as there seems to be hardly any tourists or visitors today. The buildings are colourful in shades of mustard, yellow, terracotta, whites and creams with an architectural style of Austro- Hungarian under dark red and sometimes multi coloured roof tiles.

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Dom Square and the Trinity Statue

The buildings here are in very good condition and you have to walk around with your chin up to appreciate your surroundings. Hopefully the pictures capture the beauty.

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Town Hall Pecs

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Pasha Qasim Mosque

At the Pasha Gazi Qasim synagogue we enquire about the entrance fee and a combined ticket includes the St. Peter & St. Paul cathedral for £8.50 each with a free coffee at the cathedral cafe, it feels a bit pricey but we decide to do it.

The Mosque was built by the Turk, Pasha Qasim between 1543 -1546 and converted in 1702 to a church after the Habsburg-Hungarian troops conquered the city, since 1868 only Christian ceremonies have been held here and it is still one of the largest Turkish buildings in Hungary, there are poems from the Koran scattered on the walls and the combination of the Muslim crescent and the Christian cross on it’s dome is unique. You can see many marble tombs with ornate writing , their occupants buried into curved walls, some are from 17th Century as some from 21st Century, it felt very museum like and I’m not sure I liked it.

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Tombs in the mosque

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Mosque, Cathy loved the windows

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Exposed frescos with words from the Koran

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Pasha Qasim Synagogue

St. Peter St. Paul cathedral is next & only a 7-8 min walk away behind the synagogue. I managed another tower here but without the terror! With views across the city it was worth the climb.

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Sts Peter & Paul Basilica Pecs

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Just look at those columns with the gold reflections!

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Inside Sts Peter & Paul Basilica

The free coffee followed but it took 45 mins for the drinks to appear. We leave after the coffee break and go in to Early Christians graves & mausoleum, but we didn’t want to pay another entrance fee 7000 huf so we left.

We took with us egg mayo butties with Lipton’s chilled peach tea which we enjoyed on a bench in the peaceful Dom square, deciding on our next steps, maybe go to Lake Balaton this evening, is there more to do here? it turns out there was, Cathy got some retail therapy buying a linen top whilst I got hot! as she tried 10 of them on!

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Dom Square Pecs

Once back at LIDL we quickly get ready and leave for Lake Balaton, nicknamed the Hungarian Sea, seeking out another free camp place hopefully. The roads are terrible on rds 66, 67, they feel like a scalextric track and we wallow and sway on the uneven surfaces, we can’t go more than 45-50kph and in fact the roads are also narrow, the other drivers coming towards us always approach corners over the solid white line and have to quickly re-adjust, lorries whisk by with inches to spare, we suddenly hit a new section of road the M7 ( E71) which is a electronic vignette controlled road, Cathy says the road planners must have had beer for lunch because we are suddenly driving at an angle! the gradient quite noticeable. I have bought an E vignette on line which will last us 10 days in Hungary, €11.93, it’s extremely easy to do 2 minutes of your time and it’s e-mailed back in minutes.

All the towns and villages we drove through are the same, or there is nothing different between them and after a while it becomes a boring journey, the scenery is the same for mile after mile of agricultural lands, no hills or interesting buildings to speak of, we hope the holiday area of Lake Balaton is more interesting. The only interesting thing we noticed on the journey is that the diesel price, only £1.08 per litre.

We arrive at our free destination Balatonfoldvar and we are pleased with ourselves. The end of a very small residential area in a public car park next to the History of Shipping Visitor Centre of Balatonfoldvar museum, there’s a children playground here as well and it’s all overlooking the huge lake. It measures 77kms long by 14kms wide and is a magnet for holiday makers. We can see flashing orange lights on the other side of the lake, not sure what they are but guessing they’re something to do with shipping.

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Pogos sleepy spot

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As we strolled around the sun breaks through and treats us to a most wonderful sunset over this huge expanse of water, it really is stunning and we can’t wait to see it in daylight.

Good night,

Dave

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