Budapest to Belgrade by bike - 14th July – 25th July 2007
Clive & Lorna Jones
No cycle track signs in Hungary, Superb signing in Serbia, Some signs in Croatia.
Donau Radweg 4 by Bikeline (www.Esterbauer.com)
Donau Radweg – by gtz (www.danube.travel)
Both can be bought at Stanfords Book Shop in Long Acre Lane near Covent Garden Tube Station)
Only one day of wind (against us), but very hot e.g. 45 degrees Centigrade, so we cycled very early in the morning, found hotels with air conditioning and satellite TV to watch the Tour De France in the siesta. Due to the heat and our age we cycled about 30 miles a day on average. Although we took our camping equipment, we decided to use smart hotels due to the heat and the cheapness of the hotels.
We flew from Gatwick airport with Easyjet with our 2 bikes enclosed in 2 giant plastic bags, which we wheeled each of the bikes into having 1st deflated the tyres, straightened the handle bars and taken off the peddles. We then sealed them with sellotape.
NB these bags can be bought from CTC for Ł3 each. They are already sealed on 3 sides and once the bike has been rolled in, the last side just has to be folded and sealed with selloptape.
At Budapest airport we got a minibus taxi to take us and the bikes to our pre-booked hotel in Gyal, a few miles from the airport (not Budapest as we had already been round Budapest on a previous cycle ride)
At the hotel we unwrapped the bikes, folded up the plastic bike bags and stored them in a canoe bag that contained our tent, sleeping bag etc, that we carry along with our panniers. We reuse the bags flying back to England.
NB We preferred to cycle on smooth tarmac roads rather than the rougher dyke roads at times because we have hybrid bikes not mountain bikes, which are more suited to that kind of terrain.
15th July - Gyal to Rackeve (29 miles)
via Alsonemedi, Bugyi, Kiskunlachaza and Dunapart – very nice ride.
Stayed in excellent hotel with superb meals – The Savoy Manor House
16th July Rackeve – Solt (34miles)
via Dyke road, Dunavecse, Apostag, Dunaegyhaza,
The dyke road out of town, was tarmac for first 7 miles then turned to dust track, but eventually meets up with a tarmac dyke road. Shortly after going over H.E.P. lock and along tarmac road, came to a T junction with grass dyke road in front. This is the dashed line on cycle maps to Dunavecse. It was very hard work (bumpy) cycling on the grass., but avoided an extremely busy and dangerous road. The 51.
From Dunavecse we cycled to Apostag on a cycle path and then took the quiet country road to Dunaegyhaza and then into Solt, where accommodation is very limited. Found the Park Motel on way out of Solt on the 52 to Kissolt (there was a cycle track). Although very nice owners, beware at this motel, because we believe the lady successfully tricked us by saying when we paid the bill “you have only given me a 1,000 florint note not a 10,000 florint note, so I foolishly gave her another 10,000 florint note. – the problem of too many zeros, but it cost us Ł30!!
17th July – Solt – Kalocsa (29 miles)
via Harta, Dunapataj, Ordas, Gederlak, Dunaszentbenedek, Uszod, Fokto.
Finding the cycle track out of Solt on the dyke by the side of the 51 was difficult, but once found it was superb. However, it suddenly stops just short of Harta, but restarts in Harta. From Dunapataj, a very nice town, we took a lovely country road to Kolocsa – super ride. Stayed at Kalocsa Hotel – 4 star, very nice. Lots to see - Superb town.
18th July Kolocsa – Baja (30 miles)
via Batya, 51 to Fajsz, Dyke road to Baja
Nice cycle path to Batya, then as early in the morning and had seen little traffic on the 51 road, we cycled on this till it got too busy and turned off to Fajsz, where went on not too bad dyke path, which became a superb tarmac surface to Baja after the M9 motorway crossed it.
The Duna Hotel in excellent square was full, so went to the superb – Vizafago Panzio es Etterem on the banks of the Danube. We had a balcony with excellent view over the Danube. It also does very nice food. Try and see the Serbian Church – it closes at 12.00am and is only open a few days a week.
19th July Baja – Mohacs (27 miles)
via Szeremle, Dunafalva
Nice country road, then met tarmac dyke road, followed by not so nice, but manageable dyke path. Caught ferry to Mohacs. Busy town. Excellent & very cheap bike repairer near Tourist info. Stayed at Duna Panzio, just by the Ferry – AC was a bit dodgy.
20th July Mohacs – Sombor (38 miles)
via ferry, Riha, Homorud, Karapancsa, Hercegszanto, Backi Breg, Bezdan, Backi Monostor
We chose to go the Serbian side of the Danube as the Croatian had busier roads. Very nice quiet route up to Serbian border. The same was true once in Serbia, but now excellent signing of the route. Stayed at Internation Hotel. – very nice, as is the town. Also had excellent evening meal at the Elephant (Slon) restaurant.
21st July Sombor – Apatin (17 miles)
Left early in the morning, so did not see much traffic. Then turned into country road to Kupusina, where it was cobbled for whole of length., then lovely country track through wooded countryside, followed by smooth tarmac dyke road into Apatin, which has a giant brewery there.
Stayed at the Zlatra Kruna Hotel, with beautiful views over the Danube. Excellent food there also.
22nd July Apatin – Vukovar (37 miles)
via Sonta, bridge over Danube, Dalj, Borovo
Decided on a quiet more direct road as hot, less miles and avoided 7 km of rough track. Traffic OK but busier in Croatia. Stayed at Lav hotel. Huge amount of the town is still showing the destructive scars of war, although there has been some new building. Still resentment between the Serb and Croat communities.
23rd July Vukovar – Backa Palanka (27 miles)
via Sotin, Opatovac, Mohovo, Sarengrad, Ilok, bridge over Danube
BEWARE - only locals can use the ferry across the Danube in Vukovar. The police will not let you cross. So instead of going back to quiet Serbian and well signed country roads, we were forced to cycle on the busy and hilly road to Ilok, where we could eventually cross into Serbia.
In Ilok it is worth keeping high and seeing the old castle area. Stayed at Pension Idila Plus
24th July Backa Palanka – Novi Sad (33 miles)
via Celarevo, and then dyke paths
As we left early in the morning the traffic to Celarevo was light. Some of the paths to avoid the busy road to Novi Sad were very rough, at other times nice smooth tarmac. In Novi Sad a nice cycle track on bank of the Danube.
Stayed in Rimski Hotel, a bit out of the centre. Lots to see in Novi Sad and lovely place + it has painted full size model cows with different designs,. We saw bears like this in Berlin a few years ago.
25th July Novi Sad – Belgrade
Looking at the cycle maps, the traffic looked much too busy going into Belgrade. (We were right), so we caught a train with our bikes – quite an experience. Got a slow stopping train and had to fill in lots of documents at Novi Sad & Belgrade. The bikes were treated as baggage. Quite a performance.
Stayed at Moscva hotel – excellent.
26th July - Belgrade sight seeing and booking train to Budapest.
Originally we had hoped to cycle to Bucharest, but the heat and needing to return home for family reasons meant we changed our pre-arranged flight home with Wizzair from Bucharest to Budapest, as it was nearer and more westernised. To fly from Belgrade is very expensive + there is a stop over at Vienna, which with bikes would be a big hassle.
27th July Belgrade – Budapest
What an experience. There is no provision for bikes in Serbia and it is up to the conductor whether you can travel with them, so we chanced it. We boarded the train. The carriage was a corridor with compartments we put our 2 bikes with straightened handle bars and removed peddles into a compartment along with our luggage and ourselves. The 2 of us were thus occupying a six seat compartment. It was not until a long way into the journey that the conductor told us to put the bikes in the corridor, where it would block people. When he had gone we put the bikes back in the compartment, but at every station more people came on the train. We felt very embarrassed occupying so many seats. The train was held up at the border for passport etc. checks for about 2 hours. The Hungarian conductor charged us 5 Euros per bike. The train took nearly 8 hours to travel about 200 miles!!, but we did get to Budapest and eventually back home.