Day 48: Nyiregyhaza, Hungary to Kosice, Slovakia
Vineyards on the hills of Hungary, near the Slovakian border
Today started out gray and got downright wet! I rode northwest from
Nyiregyhaza, then west across the southern end of some big hills extending south from Slovakia. then north again up a big valley to Kosice. This ride took me through some pretty wine producing country in north eastern Hungary and into southern Slovakia. Early on, I rode on roads where rain had fallen and, heading north to Slovakia, I rode in moderate to heavy rain for several hours. I ended my day in Kosice, about 77 miles and six hours of riding from where I started. I stopped because my chain and pedals needed cleaning and lubrication and I needed some extra time to clean up and dry out stuff on my bike. I had planned to ride twenty more miles to Presov, but Presov can wait till tomorrow. Unfortunately, the forecast is for more rainy weather. I'll ride to Poprad tomorrow, probably partly in the rain, and hope for nicer weather the next day when I ride by the High Tatras. It would be a real shame not to see them because of bad weather!
It was straightforward getting out of Nyiregyhaza, but the traffic was heavy
I didn't get lost today! It would have been hard to get lost this morning because all I had to do was get on the road beside my hotel and head west. The road was well signed for Tokaj, a popular resort town about 30 km from Nyíregyháza. I averaged over 14 mph for those, mostly flat, 30 km. A fellow on an, unloaded, MTB who I passed coming out of Nyíregyháza, stayed with me - a hundred feet or more back - for the first 25km. That is one of the reasons I kept such a high average speed!
Near the centrum of Tojak. Most of Tojak's resort business is along the Tizsra river
The Tizsra river northwest of Tojak
I explored the old part of Tojak, looking for some place to eat, and found lots of tourist, lots of shops, but no restaurants that were open at 11:30 on Saturday morning, so I rode on, along the river. In
Bodrogkeresztur, the next town on the river, I stopped at Hungarian store - no English equivalent; somewhere between convenience store and food store - and got bread, cheese, bananas, a neat desert, and a Pepsi. Then I made my lunch with part of the bread, part of the cheese, part of the Pepsi and all of the desert. The bananas and the remaining parts of everything else went with me for snacks.
The roundabout for Mad - I've grown unused to roundabouts since Romania doesn't use them
The road to Mad. Yes, the a has an accent mark and I have no idea how it is pronounced,
but it is the first time I've been on that road with road signs < grin >
Highway 38 ends at Highway 37, maybe ten km after Tojak and I headed south on 37, looking for the road to Mad. That is a smaller road that runs east though the big hills to Abaújkér, and then north to Gönc, which is only a few km from the Slovakia border. It is a great little road, with some pretty good climbs - 8% or so grades, but no climbs longer than a km. Just as I turned onto this road, at a roundabout, I saw another first for this tour: a couple on a fully loaded tandem. She was the captain and he was the stoker. They were headed north on 38, but, since it was a roundabout, I don't know if they came through Mad or up Highway 38 from Miskolc. We waved and smiled, but didn't stop to talk. Too much traffic! I met another group of tourists just as I left the road to Mad to head over to Highway 3. Those three young men were very wet and not in a good mood. I was very wet, but I think more comfortable than they were. I tired to talk to them, but they didn't do English and weren't interested in talking.
They were wet, and I was wet, because it had started raining hard shortly before I reached
Abaujszanto and it continued to rain, sometimes hard, almost all the way to Slovakia. I left the road to Mad at
Abaujker, which seemed to be a popular thing to do instead of continuing on
Gonc. I figure Highway 3 would be faster riding and less hilly than the small road and better riding in the rain. I think I was right on the first two points, but I'm not sure about the third one.
Where I got on Highway 3, it had narrow lanes, no shoulder, and a lot of big truck traffic. It wasn't fun riding on it in hard rain, but the rain did become light and the road did improve as I went north.
It was about 25 km to the border and, when the rain became light for a while, I was able to stop to take a break at about the half way point. Standing there, soaking wet, under a tree by the road, eating a banana and some bread, I exchanged grins with a Hungarian fellow who rode by. He had no fenders or fancy rain gear, and I expect his bicycle was his utility transportation, but he, like me, was enjoying the ride despite the weather.
The road, Highway 68, in Slovakia, looks a bit like a road in Romania, but it is much smoother
Although the weather still was dreary, at least I could mount my camera again.
12 km to Kosice, but then it was quite a few km more to the centrum
Getting through the border was no big deal and riding into Slovakia felt a bit like riding into Romania. This is another poor country, although probably closer to Croatia than to Romania in average income. It was only 20 km or so from the border to Kosice, and the road, although well worn, was mostly pretty smooth and had a small shoulder. When I saw Kosice, I though yet another "eastern European town." Riding into town was made more challenging by the large puddles in the dips in the pavement along the edge of the road. It was long ride from the edge of town to the center.
When I got to the center, I picked a nice hotel and checked in. My room is a little strange, and rather warm, but very good for drying wet things. My bike is in an interior courtyard where I was able to work on it. The security guard/ baggage helper, he has a gun and looks like security but he also helped me with finding a place for the bike, uses it to romance women employees of the hotel. He was flirting with one - hands on flirting - while I worked on my bike and with another when I went to get Goop to repair one of my sandals tonight. We sort of laughed and winked about it.
After I cleaned up and washed clothes, I went to get some money from an ATM and found a internet access place. Then I came back and ate at the hotel restaurant - good food, and you should have seen the dessert! - worked a bit on this report, and went back to upload two earlier reports and web page. Slovakian keyboards are not fun (!), but I managed to get the stuff I needed to get done, done with only minor cursing.
Tomorrow is Sunday, and breakfast here doesn't start till 8. I'm back in a EST+6 tie zone, but my body is still on EST+7, so 8 will feel like 9 and I'm used to eating at 7 or 7:30. I walked to McDs - yes, even in Slovakia - and got two of their fried pies to help me make it till breakfast. Interestingly, English worked fine at this McDs, which hasn't been the case at the others I have stopped at on this trip.
Kosice is nicer than any of the Romanian towns I rode in, except for the old part of Brasov, but has some of the same look with worn out, poorly maintained, buildings. Kosice has more new buildings and fancy shops, and the vehicles on the streets are newer and nicer, but it is not as prosperous as