Wednesday, 28 December 2011

27th and 28th Dec Ill

In the end, a long lie in (interupted only by getting up early to put money in the meter then back to bed) and a tasty breakfast included by the hostel meant we didn't get any time at all to look around Cluj-Napoc but oh well, I feel like I've seen a lot of places already! I realised I had totally neglected my exploration of cake in this country too but I didn't really feel like ant right now. As we got closer to Hungary, the buildings were changing- the churches had the attractive in and out spires so commen over Austria as opposed to the large orthodox domes. The buildings became a lot less embelished with 'twiddly' bits, the decorations becoming simpe and blocky and the colours more muted beiges, browns and creams. There was also loads of big bunches of mistletoe growing in many trees

We passed lots of hitchers on our way, as we had throughout Romania, but didn't pick any of them up. The chair took up room in the back plus the fact we had't slept in the car in so long ment other debry had accumilated. They'd have to be quite a relaxed person to want to ride in than and we'd have to trust them quite a lot not to walk away with any of our free floating stuff. The closest we had come to giving someone a lift in Romania was in the dark on CHristmas eve- there was a guy I regretted not picking up so when we saw the next one we went about a minute down the road and then turned around and came back for him. By the time we had however, he was already gone so I didn't feel so bad about not picking up the other guy after all. There were people of all ages, with and without shopping and baggage hitching each day so I think it's a fairly normal way to get about. It's a great way for us to meet people so it's a shame we didn't take anyone but various factors always combined to make us less keen.

When we got to the border the Romanian guards checked our passports and waved us through and we spent a short time waiting for the other foot to drop- where was the Hungarian border? Was that it? Are we here already? Yes, it appeared that we were, no more formalised borders for us to cross now until the channel, weird but also a relief after recent experiences. I checked things like the national holidays and opening hours in thie guidebook for this and the remaining countries to come and they were all unexotically just like the UK. It barely seems like being away at all I caught my self thinking- then remembered how I was freaked out by having to communicate with French people at the beging of the trip! I wander how long my new found relaxed attitude will last- a life time or only until the next time I leave the UK again?

Hungary didn't sell it's self much- despite choosing to avoid the motorways to see more of the country the endless flat plains, some farmed, some not, were less dramatically exciting than we expected- especially when covered in drizzle and mist. I worked on some songs and typed stuff up instead. It took longer than we hoped due to fog and I suggested we turn south and go to the attractive sounding Kecskemet instead of Szentendre- still a good two hours away. Unfortunately it didn't turn out to be a quick option but oh well. The smaller road to the town was more heavily shrouded in fog and when we reached it. all the reccomended pensions were shut. We found two larger hotels but they wanted about 60 Euros. Happily we found a Mc Donalds and Alex made excellent use of the free wifi in the car park looking up all the options. He found a nice sounding camp site attached to Thermal baths- it was 25km away but was definatly open so we went for it. The sound of the baths sounded great- my insides had felt a bit wrong for a week now and today it had suddely got a lot worse wth occasional stomach cramps just below my ribs by this time. We arrived and all was well- camping included free access to the baths and there was a nice attached resturant too. I left Alex ordering food and went straight to the baths.

They were not quite what I hoped- there was a normal temperature swimming pool, a kiddy pool and one large juccisi style pool with no bubbles but hot spring water instead but it was at a disappointing 31 degrees. I sat in it and shivered. I'd been really wanting a swim for a while now but there was no way I could manage it- my stomach cramps were really reguar and painful now. I still don't understand how everyone else in the complex seemed warm enough to wander about in their bikinis and sit about on loungers and in the cafe and resturant areas between dips. I was freezing- which turned out to be a temperature but even Alex didn't think it was that warm there, I stayed in the hot showers a good long time. By the time I returned to Alex he had thankfully eaten- the smell of food made me nausious and I had to make a dash to the loos. We bought a bottle of water for me then he walked me back around to the car and patiently delt with the chair and all the extra stuff we'd been dumping in th back recently to make it possible to sleep in. I was sick again and looked about for somewhere to fill up more waterbottles but the water semed to be off- low season I guessed. I crawled into bed.

I didn't feel I slept at all- I felt paranoid, in that dreamy illl state you get, that I would some how suffocate if I dropped off- I was so thirsty, we only had one small bottle of water and I eaked it out to last all night. I fantasised about emptying the front passenger seat so that I could get out the cooking water from behind it and the stove and boil it up until sterile but I didn't want to do it in the night because it was still drizzling and I'd wake Alex. I got him up before seven in the end- I should have woke him earlier- not only did he have another wee bottle of water in his coat but he found there was an open and indeed nice shower block after all with tasty dinking water. Things are never as bad by the light of day and my cramps had diminished considerably.

Even so, I started to put the car straight while he was in the shower but soon stoped for a little lie down as it tired me so much. Although I continued to improve throughout the day I spent a lot of it napping whiole Alex drove so I'm afraid I saw very little of Hungary.

We came across an interesting looking fort on the banks of the Danube overlooking Slovakia in the late afternoon and I felt motvated enough to come and look at it with him- it would probably be shut anyway. It wasn't although it was free entry because of the holidays. Fort Monostori is unlike any other I've seen. It was built in the late 1800s and later utilised by the Soviets as a munitions store too but since then has been lovingly preserved and opened to the public by a large group of enthusiasts. It felt like a stange blend of the castles of North Wales and the modern Austrian Bunker museum we went to. Being built when it was, the design was to withstand cannon fire, (hasn't warfare moved on horrifically fast?). It is a large enclosed area but there are steeply sloping mounds of soil surrounding the outside walls so you can't shoot a cannon at them, then a deep wide ditch- too far for a reasonable length plank to bridge and the soldiers manning the insides of the inner walls below would pick off men through the small peep holes anyway. Earth is also packed against most inner walls, sloping into the large central area. Overall a very simple and extremely clever design. The stone work is polygonal blocks- presumably inspred by the famous super stable polygonal wall at Delphi that has withstood numerous earthquakes. The rest is brick work- the rest of the wall holds up even if holes are blown in some areas. The extensive network of rooms and corridors running within the inner wall is almost all open for you to wander about freely. one or two have some demonstrative bunks or radio stations recreated within but most are open and empty. The roofs are all pleasantly high and the windows carefully positioned so that it is all well lit with natural light- so different to the Bunker Musem- built quickly for a possible immediate war with emphasis on invisibility so all in cramped, dark, underground corridors. This fort was built for long term strategic defence. The Soviets even added rails upstairs in one building for easy carting of munitions. I managed about two thirds of the way around but left Alex to drool over the big trucks, tanks and guns by himself. I slept well in the car after this.

\We had decided on the attractive sounding town of Sopron near the Austrian boarder and were absolutely astounded to find the most reccomended place stright away; not only was it was open but it had parking just outside. It was a little more expensive than usual but seemed worth the price. Alex dusted off his German and we settled ourslves in our room with the free wifi. A little later we went down to dine- this place was two thirds resturant, and highly reccomeded it came too. I was already starving having only managed plain yoghurt and Rivita all day but smelling the cooking I was sure I could manage lots! I was controlled however and just had most of a very tasty soup and then a lighter mashed potato and spinach dish. I was disappointed that I could only manage about quarter of the latter but my cramps had almost gone and I didn't want to push it. I went up and had a relaxing hot bath then snuggled into bed sleepily watching a Jackie Chan film in Hungarian!

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