A Travellerspoint blog

Bela Crkva Lakes

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Well apart from driving into the wrong campsite and not being able to get out again due to a couple of Serbian cars driving into each other, the shortish trip away from the hot city to the cool lakes was uneventful.
Our host, Branko, was very affable and speaks perfect English as he had worked in the US, the campsite is a new venture in his home town. We also met a 64 cyclist, Marc, a French man who was on was doing a 2050km round trip using European green routes, this was his second year in a row down this way! These days he said he got tired around the 65km mark on his big steel touring bike fully loaded! He spoke good English and lots of it as, I guess he doesn't talk to many people on his way round. We had beers at the campsite office and did the washing and Branko offered to take out in his car to see the other lakes the next day.
His little drive round turned into a Jeep Safari, to the other local lakes still under construction from dredging and along the D T D, the Danube to Danube canal, which has no roads. He's the sort of chap that tells funny fibs and the first couple of times it makes you think and then you just don't believe him at all. It was great that he spent some time with us and Marc and chose to share lunch with us at the fish restaurant, he couldn't translate the type of fish, it didn't matter, it was gorgeous!
We had to go back via the canal so that Branko could collect some more rocks for his flowerbeds on the site! He does a little bit of rock relocation at a time in case the canal builders notice!
We chilled the next day, did some cleaning and made ready for the trip back to Hungary via Romania. Our plans were going well until we were invited to meet the local TV people, no camera involved, but our host was using us to show off his new camp. His dad served us local pear brandy, with or without green walnut spirit and Branko tried Jacqui's electric bike, normal sort of evening really.
This had been one of the most welcoming sites we had been to and we renamed it Serbian Pedro's and we could have stayed longer, but onward and upward.

Posted by cjpolley 11:36 Archived in Serbia Comments (1)


Pronounced pash

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This city was on our route down to the Serbian border and we had found a small campsite whose owner was supposed to be very strict, all she did really was hand me an English copy of where things were on the site, how to get to the city and a short history, helpful rather than stern.
Pecs is a unique and historically interesting small city, the centre is based around one of the oldest buildings, a church that had been a mosque after it was built as a church in the first place. This city has seen, not in chronological order, the mongol hordes, the tartars, the ottomans, Hapsburgs, Nazis, Communists and now KFC.
We visited the Bishops Palace, not something we usually do but because of the churches stand against communism. Jacqui admitted to us being seniors so we got in cheap as well. We saw this in Berchtesgaden where the church in Germany stood against the Nazis movement, in both countries priests were imprisoned and beaten and tried to protect people. There is even a secret underground passage that the Pecs bishop used to talk secretly to aides, away from the bugs installed by the government.
Now the city has a theatre for ballet and opera, well organised tourist routes, loads of cosmopolitan bars and cafes and no European chain shops, yet! It was an incredibly hot day so had to be accompanied by the usual beer and ice cream but well worth the visit

Posted by cjpolley 05:07 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Red hot in Serbia

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We had been experiencing 34° in Hungary but with gentle breezes around the lakes; we arrived in Serbia to a heat wave of 39 °C which is 15° higher than the June average.
We drove to the nearest border crossing to Pécs and were stopped on our way out of Hungary and had to present our passports at the Serbian border hut. I took the passports over to the window and was asked some questions about our onward travel, whether we were going to Greece or Bulgaria, well we weren't, so we got a stamp, unusual these days.
The other guard went to the van and Jacqui opened side door and he was greeted by our mini garden and questioned what each plant was and when he was told they were flowers seemed surprised, what was he expecting! He then picked up the Dyson and questioned it (well I suppose it does look a bit dodgy when it has been taken apart to clean.) He then opened every cupboard, made some comment about all her clothes, he missed the shoes! Finally he got to the drinks cupboard he shouted AH WODKA, that seemed to make him happy and he left.
We were allowed then to dodge the wooden lift up barrier that didn't and 50m further on we were stopped again by a chap in civvies, no idea what that was about, Serbian secret service?
We had planned to stop en route to Belgrade but the lack of recognised stop put us off and so we pushed on, reaching the city later than we wanted to at rush hour. Our destination turned out to be the front lawn of a furniture shop on a busy main road.
The owner was very friendly and also runs a motorhome rental company and is president of the Serbian camping club so very useful with contacts for other sites on our way through the country.
The night we arrived I was so knackered from the heat, Jacqui thought I was ill, after a day of walking in Beograd it was jacqui's turn to feel the heat and need to lay down.
Belgrade, according to Lonely Planet, is not an attractive city, they are not wholly right. It is a vibrant city with lots of bars and all the boring international shops, there are the intercontinental hotels that all the spies stayed at and there is much to see.
Nikola Tesla lived here and his museum is testament to his control of electricity. There is a mighty fortress now inhabited by plastic dinosaurs and some little tanks but it in long history if you held this post overlooking the Sava and the Danube you were in charge.
We ate in the bohemian quarter, we knew it was because we followed a sign saying so, in a street that is full of live music in the evenings and a great pull for the many visitors, not many from western Europe. Our musical experience whilst eating was from a young girl no older than 8 playing an accordion and singing 3 lines, at first we thought it sweet until she held out her hand and we asked her to play a little more. She was not happy but repeated the 3 lines and when we gave her some money she shocked her head and asked for 5 times as much. Needless to say she went away without!
Outside of the city centre it looks like a city playing catch up, it's one of the places we have been where we have seen men and women collecting recyclables to make money, going down bins to add cans and bottles to there enormous piles on bikes or barrows. The other two places were Croatia and New York!
We had a pleasant couple of days but with disturbed sleep so headed to some lakes by the Romanian border for some coolth, that's a real word!

Posted by cjpolley 05:15 Archived in Serbia Comments (0)

Lake Balaton

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The local TI claim this as the largest lake in Europe, well excluding Russia and Scandinavia and the man made lakes in Holland, so the biggest natural, freshwater lake in central Europe!
We woke the first morning by the lake whilst people were moving on as we recouped with a lay in and a French couple had to move their hose so we could get to the showers. On campsites it really easy to start a conversation with people and they enquired as to our journey, after a few minutes we had found out that they had driven to China, hired a motorhome in both New Zealand and south America and had this great Web site with all their journeys on; just when you think you're doing something a bit adventurous by going to Serbia! They were really
sweet and they have a summer house in one of our favourite French seaside towns and we got an invite, brilliant.
We spent 3 nights at this site and rode our bikes into the tiny village and along the shoreline and decided that this was a very quiet section of the lake, that's us never satisfied with hectic places one minute and slow the next. We did venture into a small bar and couple of times for a lunchtime beer, well for £1 a pint it's rude not to, but also into a lovely restaurant. We only eat out when there is something different on the menu or things we don't cook, octopus comes to mind; steaks in France on a €12 menu or pescados mixta in Spain. Here Jacqui had turkey breast stuffed with plums with a timbal of rice with ground almonds with a white sage sauce! Makes mine sound a bit ordinary but I'm glad I didn't go for the bigger appetite dishes, I had pork fillet with mushroom, bacon and liver sauce.
So after 4 nights in Hungary we had learnt: (phonetically of course)
Kosonom, thank you
Egy visit, same again
Flutch, wine and soda that even the chaps drink
Sör, beer
and Jacqui found Elado that she thought was ice cream and it means for sale.
So that's the important parts of a 5000 year old language sorted then!
We moved around to the bottom corner of the lake to a place called Keszthely and stayed in a boring site the first night but it had a pool. Walking into the town we found a marketplace that lead into an enormous town square, which was holding an international folk festival that evening.
We went along at 7 and found the food stalls had bits of pig, mostly in sausages with grilled veg and spuds, Jacqui drank fletch and me beer. The singing and dancing was great, full of energy and a bit of competition with the groups coming from Armenia, Bulgaria and Croatia as well as local troupes. We left around 11:30 and they were still going strong.
We were leaving the boring site and a chap saw me back from a tight spot, turns out he was British, the first we had seen since way back in mid Austria. We gave them our email and told them where we were moving to, a small site just round the corner, run by Hungarians but popular with the Germans.
At this point I must add that Ronnie Barker is never far from our thoughts, LO is the easy way to greet everybody and since we have be here, every time one of us mentions Hungarian, Grenville comes to mind.
The little site provided us with shelter the next day from thunderstorms that lasted on and off all day so the bike ride was postponed until Monday, we had decided to stay until then so we could take an evening boat cruise. There were only 11 people on board but it was quite a pleasant way to spend an hour or so. The commentary was in English and we learnt about trade on this lake and the fact that has an average depth of just 3m and for this reason not only has a summer temperature of 25 °C but freezes over most winters.
Cooking and eating in these temperatures is becoming an issue as neither of us wants large meals or to stand and cook over a hot stove, lots of liquids then!
Next day we head towards the south of the country and a city called Pécs.

Posted by cjpolley 12:23 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

The Longest Day

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The 21st of June started with us watching a greater spotted woodpecker darting around a couple of trees on our stellplatz whilst we had breakfast, not a bad start!
We decided to sightsee a local lake as we thought we weren't going far that day and it turned out to be a bit like 'The Prisoner' complete with 4 wheeled bikes! So moving on we headed for Sopron in Hungary that was supposed to be pretty and made good time for us and then couldn't find any parking. The city is pretty but town planning back 500 years didn't go as far as motorhomes. To our surprise along the road out of Sopron was a huge Tesco sign, well we had to investigate and sure enough it was Tesco as we know it and even took our points card!
Still no problem, there was a stellplatz within 30 miles, or, as we found out when we arived it had become a new housing estate.
So new plan at the side of the road, the camper stop map was looking a bit bare, do we travel over 80 miles to the lake We had planned a couple of days ahead or do we plump for the 40 mile detour cos it has a recommendation, 40 miles it is.
1 1/2 hours later over some repaired on repaired roads we come to a very nice looking campsite expecting to pay €12, it's a shame I can't increase the font size on this but, €32. They were having a very big laugh.
So the only option left is the drive, now 60 miles to the lake, our drive had started at 09:30 and we arrived at the lake at 18:30 and it was only 35° in the cab! The first 2 beers in the lakeside bar didn't touch anything.
At least our longest day ended in a pleasant, if rustic site, thankfully with a bar!

Posted by cjpolley 08:01 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

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