A short run today, a deliberate choice. I have read that Esztergom is worth visiting and I would like to see a bit more of Hungary. The sun shines all day and some of the early part of the route is along the river bank. I come across a tiny market where a local trio play and strawberries, honey and green peppers are for sale. I cycle slowly round wanting to buy something but I have no space and what am I going to do with a kilo of green peppers. It's worth saying at this point the peppers that I have eaten here taste like the peppers that we ate when I was a a child, they have some flavour, unlike the one's we buy from Tesco which taste of nothing. Tesco buyers take note: get your peppers from Hungary not from a greenhouse outside Rotterdam. Further on down the road I see a young man energetically changing a tyre. I offer help and he has the good sense not to accept. He is Korean and is cycling from Amsterdam to Istanbul. Respect! He tells me that this is his twelfth puncture since Donaueschingen. Something wrong there surely.
I get to Sturovo, the last town in Slovakia before Esztergom. It has a large and shabby terminus station with some choice rolling stock rusting in the sidings. I am particularly taken with a pair of charming diesel railcars that I haven't come across before. I stop for the first beer of the day in celebration. I cycle down to the riverbank, to almost under the bridge that will take me back to Hungary, in order to take photographs of the massive Basilica at Esztergom, on the other side of the river. As I do so a voice from above me shouts "Hey English". It is the the Korean waving frantically from the bridge. I call back "stay there I'll come up". We meet like old friends as opposed to two men whose origins are forty years and ten thousand miles apart but this is Danube Path camaraderie in action. He too has met the French couple. Where are they now? Were they stopping in Vienna? He asks me where I stay and when I say cheap hotels he looks envious as he tries to camp most nights. I give him my old line "if it hasn't got room service or a mini-bar then I'm not fucking interested". He nods sagely. I think that perhaps his English is not very good. His tent which travels on top of his panniers looks suspiciously like one of the modern variety that you can erect with the flick of the wrist. What's the point of a tent without guy ropes to trip over. When I was a boy you had to slacken off your guy ropes if it was going to rain in case they shrank in which case your tent would explode or something. I think Yenoshi, if I heard his name right, is happy to have someone who speaks English to talk to, Amsterdam to Istanbul is a long way if you have none of the languages en route. We cross the bridge into Hungary together and almost immediately I find my hotel and we part, Yenoshi disappointed that we were not going to go out drinking together but he was pressing on further that day.
I check into what turns out to be the worst room so far, at some point it was part of a corridor I think and yet again the bed is too short. Then I do what one does in Esztergom which is visit the Basilica, the interior is magnificent, if you like that sort of thing, but the view from the cupola away across the Danube valley is superb. It is also a testament to how fit one gets if one cycles for eight hours a day, in that I wasn't even breathing hard when I got to the top unlike the party of school kids that I was following. I had thought that there would be more to do in Esztergom but apart from eat (I had something Transylvanian), drink (too much beer) and visit the bus station (no buses to see), I did nothing.