The Grand Budapest Hotel

My seat by the Danube in the centre of Budapest.

Heading into Hungary the sense of adventure has leapt up.  This is the first time I notice the wonderfully evocative sound of crickets.  The currency has changed and I feel a rich man with 10,000 Florints in my wallet.  A cheese burger meal costs 500 Florints which is about £1.50, as is a pint by the Danube in the centre of Budapest.

The horrific moment when I realised I would be cycling without maps

The horrific moment when I realised I would be cycling without maps

I am fortunate that my mapping system is excellent.  The ipad I use with Google maps has directed me perfectly to every destination and been wonderfully protected by the kind people at Tech 21 who provided me with an Impactology case.  My ipad has not only survived the bumps and bashes expected of a tour but also been dropped at speed onto the concrete cycle path and survived unscathed.  However when I last tried to download maps for the route ahead I was perturbed to see a message informing me that maps in Hungary are unavailable for download.  Not only has Google let me down but the cycle paths of Hungary are not up to the same standard as their western European relatives.  They tend to end abruptly with nowhere to go and cavernous potholes can catch you unawares.  The Language is also so Foreign to me I have switched modes to lost Englishman abroad and plough through conversations loudly in well enunciated English, a gift acquired from my father.

These pesky signs are all over the country

These pesky signs are all over the country

It is interesting to note that after the anti-nationalist sentiment in Germany, nationalism has ticked up in Austria and Hungary.  The Jobbik party here has 47 seats and 16.7% of the vote.  They have close links to the BNP in England.  They are widely criticised for anti-semitic and racist views.  The press here is largely controlled by the ruling party which is also considered a nationalist and right wing party with a flare for populist policy.  Recently the government introduced a 10% reduction in energy bills with a further 10% planned and even plan to ban energy companies from giving a dividend.  This makes Ed Milliband’s price freeze seem rather lacking ambition.

My Host family in Esztergom were very welcoming and have two very cute children who I have been teaching to count in English.  We also watched the latest Disney film.  I’m now leaving Budapest looking for a cheap hotel or grassy verge for the night.

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