Day 47: Satu Mare, Romania to Nyiregyhaza, Hungary

Being passed by a Dacia - what else in Romania - on the way to the Hungarian border
I have no idea why there are three names for Satu Mare on that leaving town sign

Today was not an exciting riding day. Most of it was spent riding across the Great Hungarian Plain on mostly straight, mostly flat, and mostly smooth highways. The best riding was on small roads, heading north from Mateszalka to Vasarosnameny. That part of the day was reminiscent of riding in Romania. The villages were similar, although obviously wealthier. The part of Hungary adjacent to Satu Mare seemed just as impoverished as Romania, but that changed markedly in the 30 miles between the border and Mateszalka. Mataszalka felt like western Europe.

It was really nice having smooth roads again on the way to Mateszalka, but I noticed that my hands were getting numb and my shoulders were aching. I hadn't had either of those problems in Romania! I think they come from holding the same position for too long and, on a bumpy road, you can't do that . My seat (mine, not the bikes) is still sore from the abuse it took in Romania and, as the day wore on, I moved around more because of that and didn't have any further problems with numbness or aching shoulders.

The riding was uneventful except for a lot of construction on the road, 49, near the Romanian border. I did get lost trying to get out of Satu Mare, but that was mostly my fault for getting confused about which way I should be heading. Somehow I got east in my head - I've been heading east for most of this tour - and made a wrong turn. I finally got straighten out and, with a little help from two men working on a car in the street, got on the right road out of town. As usual it was well signed, but how did I know Petra was Hungary? Fortunately I did know the road number was 19A and that was also on the sign.

When I got to the border, there were four cars in the line I was in. I thought I'd wait and take my turn. Then they started searching the first car. I pulled bicycle rank again and rode, a little guiltily, around the waiting cars and had my passport stamped without further wait. I think there are major issues with smuggling both into and out of Romania, so car searches are routine and through. Bikes apparently don't get searched at least if the bike rider has a US passport. I saw several spot searches being conducted in Hungary today as well. They stop random cars and check what they are carrying.

The road is smooth - new asphalt has just been put down - but not exciting

More smooth, but not exciting, pavement
This is a nice road for bicycling on, so of course it is illegal to bicycle on it.

Here are the no everything signs on the highway from Vasarosnameny to Nyiregyhaza
I saw all those illegal things on this same road today.

A horse drawn wagon on highway 41
These are much less common here than in Romania, but I saw several today

When I got to Vasarosnameny, I stopped for a late lunch. It is almost as hard to find a place that serves a decent lunch here as it is in Romania. I stopped at a nice hotel which had and inexpensive menu (less than 2 Euro) and had that with beer and coffee for a total cost of about 3.50 E. It was good. While I was there, I reworked my routing in Hungary. I had routed north to Kisvarda, then west through small towns and some hills to the border at Cerhov Slovakia. I'm not even sure that that is an international border crossing, some crossing are only for local folks, and, with only small towns after Kisvárda, I was going to have to stop there for the night. It was a nice day for riding, so I didn't feel like stopping that soon, and I wanted internet access, which wasn't going to find in Kisvárda. I added some 20 miles to my day, and to this tour, by rerouting through Nyíregyháza. It was an easy, if not exciting 50 km ride on, of course, a road that doesn't allow bicycles. It does, however, allow, prostitutes.

I decided to stop for a break at the midpoint, and, about the 26 km from Nyiregyhaza marker, there was a parking area with a picnic table. It also had two policemen, stopping random cars to check for contraban. I stopped anyway and took my break from my illegal ride right next to the cops . About a km before I stopped, there was a nice looking resort hotel/restaurant whatever. That part of the route was through a lovely forest and that resort would have been a nice place to stop, but I was on a quest for internet service!

I stopped again about ten miles from Nyiregyhaza to take a final break
these are some signs near where I stopped
You know you are in Hungary when the signs are totally incomprehensible.

When I go to Nyiregyhaza, I first stopped at McDs to eat. It is shameful to do that in France, but not in Hungary! Then I went hunting for a hotel. That turned out to be a challenge, even though I saw a sign for the hotel I am staying at near McDs. It said 800 M, but I wasn't sure in what direction. Eventually, after asking several people for help, I made it here.

This a Hotel Europa which is chain of good value hotels. This one will cost me around $30 with breakfast. When I got here, the lady at the reception desk was kind of sullen, but she did what was needed to be done. When I asked about internet access, she was confused, but when I said internet cafe, she pointed to a door in the lobby of the hotel!

After I cleaned up, I went down to check it out. Its connections are at modem speeds, but everything works and I can use my own telnet and ftp programs. Yes! it is more expensive than the good internet cafe in Brasov, but still cheap compared to some in France or Germany, and having it right in the hotel is great.

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