Day 97 - Friday 7th July - Timisoara to Budapest (Hungary)

We managed to find our way on to the A1 heading west towards the Hungarian border with only a relatively short detour. Although there was signage leading out of town, it was missing at critical junctures, like at round-abouts and intersections. Added to this, the Garmin wanted to take us up road that were deadends.

The countryside was flat, covered with sunflowers interspersed with fields of wheat stubble and seemed a lot more productive than what we had seen in the previous couple of days further south.

The border was again a sit in your car and hand over your passports type. We were done in about 10 minutes and on our way across Hungary after first stopping to buy Vinyets (toll passes for Hungary and Austria). The highway speed limit was now 130kph and most drivers seemed to avail themselves of it. The road etiquette was strictly European (keep out of the left hand lane unless you are over taking, and trucks were all confined to the right). Although we were not attempting to travel at the speed limit, it was all very civilised as we drove through rolling countryside covered in more sun flowers and wheat stubble.

Our objective was to get to Budapest by lunch time so that we had the afternoon to explore the city. We managed to achieve this and as our rooms were not ready, immediately set off to explore.

For the uninitiated, the city is made up of two parts divided by the Danube, Buda and Pest. An ancient city with a rich history. While not directly on the old Silk Route, it was in the path of both Ghengis Khan and his Mongol tribe as well as Suleyman the Magnificent. Both conquered and controlled Budapest and Hungary for substantial periods of time.After gaining its freedom from the Ottomans, it was then part of the Austrian empire, occupied by the Germans, and then under the control of the Soviets until 1989 when it eventually got its freedom and is now a part of Europe and the Chengen zone, although it does not use the Euro.

The city has a real European flavour and wandering about it was the first time we had come into contact with significant numbers of tourists. There were cars from all over Europe driving the streets. And widespread use of English. The restaurants and bars were buzzing and compared to what we were used to pay, the prices had escalated by a significant factor.

Welcome back to reality.