Monday, 3 June 2013
Black Sea or Bust - Day 17 - Gyor to Radvan (76 km)
And it rained. My shoes were still sodden and I only carry sandals as spares so I start the day with wet feet. Not good. Trench foot could be a distinct possibility. The Danube Path has diverted away from the river itself for the last day and I won't get back to it until lunch time but what on a sunny early summer's day would be a pleasurable ride this morning is a nightmare. The torrential rain of the previous two days has left three long sections of the path a quagmire. Picture those early flickering silent newsreels from World War One with artillery pieces up to their axles in mud, well that was Doris and I. There were some earnest Germans in the mud too which I am ashamed to say gave me some pleasure.
At lunch the rain stopped and we got to Komarom, a city divided both by the Danube and by the border. I had lunch on the Hungarian side then crossed the 'Friendship Bridge' to the Slovak side known as Komarno. Rain clouds loom again so I decide to duck into the local museum. Having chained Doris to a tree I enter the lobby and tap on the glass window of what appears to be the ticket office. A rather grumpy blonde girl opens up and I say that I would like to see the museum. A look of blank disbelief is followed by some scrabbling before she finds the ticket (1 euro). Then she emerges from her office and starts to unlock the doors to the collection. As she turns on the lights in each room I follow her in and she the trots ahead, clunking along in non-sensible shoes, to open the next section. As I finish each section she runs back to turn off the lights and relock. I try and give the collection the attention that is not really its due. There is a natural history section with some rather sad stuffed creatures arranged in a 'Riverbank Tableaux' and then there are the Roman arrow heads, potshards etc. All the captions are in Slovak and Hungarian and it is pointless for me to pretend that I am relishing every word while the blonde runs busily backwards and forwards. I try express some interest, saying "ah yes" or "hmm OK" but it's tough going, this museum is even duller than Dartford's Civic Museum. Finally we are finished with the historical stuff and she ushers me into the tiny art gallery. Apparently all the paintings in the room are by a well known but local artist who was working from around 1900 until the 1930s. I examine the first group, they all fantastical scenes illustrating fairy stories and they are great, I love them. There are some superb portraits of an elderly man, the artist's father I think, and finally there is a piece de resistance, a large oil, painted as if from the back of the stalls in a 1920s theatre. We see the audience in front of us, the toffs in the boxes, the conductor hard at it in the pit and on the stage is a musical in progress. The title of this work is "A Big Number". It's enchanting. I turn to the blonde and say "This is great. Thank you". She smiles a very big smile, she is delighted to have something in the collection that I genuinely appreciate. We chat amicably as together we go back down the stairs, she in Slovak, I in English. I wonder what we talked about.
Onward for Doris and I on the left bank of the river because we are sleeping in Slovakia tonight. The route is dull, along roads just out of sight of the river but it's not raining and the hotel, when we finally get there, is a gem. Cheery young staff, big room with a balcony overlooking the Danube and a cracking dinner.