Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Black Sea or Bust - Day 19 - Esztergom to Szentendre (56.5 km)
I flee the worst, but cheapest hotel, of the last three weeks and get in the saddle on a glorious morning. The path runs close to the river and even though the sun is out I can see that the Danube is rising. I stop at a point where the water has crept halfway across the path and I can see that it is only surface tension stopping the Danube going whoosh all the way across and of course surface tension is no match for Europe's second longest river (the Volga is the longest) and even as I watch the path is covered. As I ride on some sections of my route are almost axle deep and I hear from some faint hearted riders that I meet later that they turned back. It is an act of faith to ride into a very large puddle when you have no idea how deep it may be in the middle. I nearly came a cropper earlier in the week when I ploughed into water and only just in time noticed the handrails of a small footbridge poking up through the surface. In fact as I write this a couple of days after the event you may be watching images from Germany, in particular from Passau, where the antique shop where I bought a few postcards must be completely under water. All day as I ride along the Hungarian Danube people are preparing for the torrent that is moving inexorably towards them. Householders with property that backs on to the river are busy putting out sandbags, soldiers and local authorities are using diggers and bulldozers to either build up dykes or open them up so that the waters flown into prepared flood pounds where they will do little damage. It's a relatively short uneventful ride to Szentendre which is a Budapest residents day trip venue. There is a long pretty street (cobbled needless to say) lined with souvenir and arts and crafts shops. There are stalls serving food in the middle of the street. It's crowded on a Sunday afternoon and the atmosphere is relaxed. The hotel is good and the day is good.
This short entry does give me space to relate one Viennese Cafe Central anecdote that I enjoyed. At some time before the First World War Trotsky, travelling under the alias Bronstein, was a regular at the Cafe Central. The Austrian foreign service were discussing the possibilities of a revolution in Russia. The big cheese chairing the meeting said "...and who pray is going to start this revolution. Next you'll be telling me it's that idiot Bronstein who sits in the Cafe Central all day".