Day 5, Vienna to Budapest: Komarno to Esztergom: 58kms

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August 21st 2015
Published: August 21st 2015
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Basilica of St AdalbertBasilica of St AdalbertBasilica of St Adalbert

The picture doesn't do justice to the size of the columns, the doors and general bulk of this building
It’s another lovely day with clear skies and a nice temperature. We got off to a great start immediately after we left the hotel. Outside were a couple of cops who first waved to us to get to the other side of the street, then whistled and finally looked rather threatening with a shotgun. We were only riding on a one way street the wrong way on our bikes for goodness sake. Linds could only think of all the beer mats he’d taken from various places for his collection and thought it was a bit of an overkill. We never did find out why there were policemen about with guns. That's worth a mention too - we keep seeing the police at many places and gatherings in both Slovakia and Hungary. It's almost as if they have an overabundance of police to be present at every gathering.

We left Komarno and wound our way around the old fortification along the Danube then over a bridge and back on the bike trail along the river. We flowed along on a wonderful flat surface on top of a stop bank for a long way stopping only to look at a Roman Ruin
The tunnel under the walls of the fortificationThe tunnel under the walls of the fortificationThe tunnel under the walls of the fortification

This is a beautiful tunnel shaped by bricks and large stone walls. It cuts through from the street and through to the Basilica complex
of an old military camp at Kelemantia before meeting the road where we had to bike with traffic. We skipped the thermal lakes at Patince (we have many at home) and as it turned out they weren’t worth visiting. Some of our instructions on the map could have led us astray. Firstly the supposedly unpaved cycle track was paved and in superb condition. We came across a memorial marked by several hanging bells. This was to mark the 400th Anniversary of a Peace Pact made between Hungary, Turkey and Slovakia. At Kravany the track had been blocked off for tree felling and there was no detour notice. We had to find our own way around and back to the river. It was a lovely place to cycle – quiet, nice scenery, no traffic and beside the river Danube. The towns were neat and tidy and had very nice homes - a direct contrast from those a day ago. Is it really our imagination or is one country more affluent and proud that the other when there is only a river width to separate them?

We had lunch at Muzia after stopping at a pub (only beer) then biking right
The enormous statue of St Stephen being crowned kingThe enormous statue of St Stephen being crowned kingThe enormous statue of St Stephen being crowned king

This statue is very large and can be seen from a long distance. It sits above the river on a promontory of the fortifications above the Danube
through town and back again to try and find some shops (no signs). From here we were back on the road with traffic and a head wind until we reached Sturovo which is still in Slovakia. We crossed over the Danube to Esztergom in Hungary where we are staying the night. It is dominated by a huge Basilica which sits atop the high fortified walls above the river. We wound our way through the town and up to Castle Hill to find ourselves at a hotel which almost seems part of the Basilica and castle complex. It has a nice garden area but pretty small rooms. It appears that it caters for pilgrims and those needing rest (Us!).

We spent some time exploring the whole area of fortifications of Esztergom which is dominated by an enormous Basilica called St Adalbert which can seat 8000 people. It has huge pillars and enormous doors and from what I’ve read is the largest church in Hungary. Inside is awesome with soaring ornate ceilings dominated by a dome. There are paintings covering the entire upper part of the building. Esztergom is one of Hungary’s oldest town (over 1000yrs) and the seat of the
A medieval battle reinactmentA medieval battle reinactmentA medieval battle reinactment

These guys did several battle scenes. In this one they are shooting arrows at a target, very acurately
archbishop. The coronation of St Stephen happened here and there is an enormous statue of this near the Basilica. While exploring the area we heard a lot of drumming happening and found a crowd had gathered to watch a re-inactment of middle age battles with swords, bows and arrows, shields and metal whips. It was very entertaining and noisey. Not long after a band of Turkish players started up with a jug drum, a large baglama (stringed guitar like instrument) and a variety of flutes. A wonderful sound. A wedding was happening by the church, strange middle-ages costumed people were riding around on little motor cycles and there were a number of tents selling food and general stuff. All very entertaining in a unique environment.

To get down to the town for dinner we walked through an enormous (again) ornate brick tunnel. We ate at a good restaurant with good service by a cheerful Hungarian (that made a change). He assumed I knew German from my smattering of words and completely lost me…… All in all, a very good day of cycling and entertainment.

Additional photos below
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From Castle Hill looking across the DanubeFrom Castle Hill looking across the Danube
From Castle Hill looking across the Danube

Across the river is Sturovo which is in Slovakia

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