Sept. 25, Esztergom, Hungary

Hi Folks!

Yesterday, I awoke early and went down to a wonderful breakfast provided by the hotel (Gabcikovo) that I checked into the night before. I met a really interesting man and his wife from Holland. He is in the process of organizing a supported rowing tour along the Danube river! And, what better way to do that than ride along the river on a bicycle. All along the way, he is checking out hotels, restaurants, and their menus, places where boats can be put in and taken out of the water. What a fantastic idea! Just like there are people who live to cycle, there are also people who live to row. And this man–Jaap Maks–is going to make it possible for them to do it in style. If you are interested in this, check out his web site: ROEIREIZEN.

After riding for a while, I crossed to the south of the Danube. Half way across the river, I officially entered Hungary. Things are beginning to seem very foreign to me. I supposed that this has something to do with my childhood. When I was 6 or 7 years old, my family moved to a house in Riverton, Wyoming, next door to a man who had “escaped from Hungary.” In other words, he immigrated to the USA before the Soviets entered his country. This man was incredibly interesting, and by proxy, so was everything associated with him. I have always wanted to visit Hungary, and now I am here!

My friend, David Aronstein from NASA, had contacted me a few weeks ago and suggested that, upon entering Hungary, I acquire a bottle of UNICUM and share it with everyone at my campground. Sort of a way of celebrating the completion of the European section of the tour. A new kind of alcohol? A challenge? Yep–I’m on it!

A truly Hungarian drink

A truly Hungarian drink

Just prior to riding into Hungary, I stopped at a gas station/store and looked around. Sure enough, they had the stuff, but only in small bottles, suitable for only 2 or 3 people. I bought one, but asked about a larger bottle. A woman at the store laughed, and then returned with a container that must have held 2 or 3 gallons of the stuff! I settled on the small bottle.

After riding into Hungary, I stopped into a supermarket and, indeed, they had a reasonably-sized container, so I picked up one of those too. It was getting close to 5:00 PM, so I cycled to a local campground that also boasted a “thermal spa.” Now, I lost my swimming suit back in spain, so a spa means nothing to me, and I certainly did not want to pay for it. As such, I was directed across the street to a place where they just had camping.

The camping was quite reasonable. About 6 bucks American, and free electricity. But when I went to put up my tent, I realized that there were only two of us camping there. Wait–what about the UNICUM? I approached the other party–an older man and his wife–and they were having nothing to do with this. I guess UNICUM has somewhat of a reputation… The man (a German) said that he could not partake because of a surgery he had endured, and showed me the scar to prove it. I figured that his action had signaled a scar-showing event, so I showed him the scar from my heart surgery. In any case, neither he nor his wife were going to drink this stuff with me.

So, what was I to do? Well, I did the only thing that I could. I snuck back through the gate at the other campground where the spa was located. I walked around, looking confident and like I belonged there, and went to every group of people that I could find and offered to share my hooch with them. We managed to get through about half of the bottle. People here seem to have a deep respect for the intoxicating powers of this beverge, and were very careful about drinking it. But here is a group of people I met that were willing to get a bit snockered with me.

UNICUM friends

UNICUM friends


So, David, mission accomplished!


I got up this morning for another exciting day of cycling in Hungary. Hey–look at the bugs that were on the tree next to my tent!

Ugly Bugs.

Ugly Bugs.

While cycling today, I met a man from France that was riding into Budapest on a recumbent. But take a close look at his bike, where I have circled in red. He is biking with his own garden! Salad and a couple of other spices, all growing in little containers. Wow–is this cool, or what?

A man cycling with a garden.

A man cycling with a garden.

Just two more days of easy cycling, and then I head for the airport in Budapest.





3 Responses to “Sept. 25, Esztergom, Hungary

  • Scott, it’s been so much fun, and so interesting to follow your travels. You’ve come quite a ways from being my best friends little brother – who tolerated (although I’m sure was often exasperated by) our occasional hijacking of his chemistry set.

    I love that you mentioned Louis in regards to Hungary. I have such good memories of time spent at his house. He was so tolerant of us. I loved the stories he told of his escape from the prison camp during WWII. And will never forget the wonderful aromas of his Paprika pork chops, he was a special guy!

    If you decide to journey through northeast Kansas on your way back home let me know, I’d love for our local kids to have the opportunity to meet you and hear about your project! -cindy

  • Hi Scott!!

    It’s one of those perfect, brisk bluebird early fall mornings here in Boulder. It’s “house special at Ozo” weather. It’s just not the same without you around … but so glad you’re pedaling the dream over there. It sounds fantastic.

    FYI I got to check the box on one of my dreams last weekend; about sunset on the 17th, I finished the 100-miler in Steamboat.

    Ha, wow, the heat just came on in RA-6. Haven’t heard that in months!

    Eric C

  • I have such fond memories of Louis, too. He had peacocks in his back yard and he also grew kohlrabi in his garden. He would peel one for me now and then. What a nice man!

    Are you thinking about started your own bicycle garden? I know how much you like gardening–seems like a neat idea!

    Love you! Looking forward to your u.s. return!


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