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European Peace Walk: Day 2: Bratislava, Slovakia to Rajka, Hungary

Bus stop in Cunovo

Bus stop in Cunovo

Just like in life, it’s a good thing sometimes that we don’t know what’s in store for us.

I woke early in a pool of sweat feeling weak. Still needing to write about Day One, I quickly gathered my things and found a cafe with wi-fi where I finished my post over a croissant and coffee.

Due to construction on a bridge, the EPW suggested different options for getting out of town.  Given my general weakness and another day of blazing temperatures, I opted for the bus option that suggested a small three kilometer walk after departing the bus.

I found the bus station under the the UFO bridge (on castle side). Fortunately, I also found an English speaker in the kiosk who explained what ticket I needed.

I boarded bus #91 to Cunovo and hoped. We passed acres and acres of socialist-era apartment buildings that were similar to any old school “projects” you’d see in the United States – devoid of character and depression-inducing

by their very design. 

Departing the bus stop I saw a red arrow and felt great relief.  Unfortunately, that was the last arrow I saw for a long time.  It was a clown show opportunity for growth for the next couple hours.

No idea.

No idea.

For any PeaceWalker who might take the bus, I provide you with directions from Cunovo bus stop (final stop) to Adam’s Horse Farm. I don’t know if this is the best way, but it is a way. Let your path be easier than mine.

Deposited in a residential neighborhood, there are no shops and seemingly no people around, only a German Shepard who wants to eat me, barking as I walk by.

With no guidance I am walking by intuition which means several track backs, worry, and annoyance due to the sun.

I ask a passing bike rider “Rajka?”  He yells back something and continues on.  Crossing a bridge over a lagoon I spot two dead birds and wonder if this is a bad omen.  Next, experiencing a violent urge to poop, I crouch in a bush but not properly hidden, my bowels seize with stage fright and I inadvertently pee all over my shoes and socks.  This is the kind of behavior that makes me such a man magnet.  I mean,what’s not to like?

Finally going the right direction

Finally going the right direction

I proceed on a looooong asphalt path alongside a canal while bikers whiz past and I consider the awesomeness of the wheel as if I had just discovered the concept. They can go so fast!  But not me.  I bipedally poke along.

After a 20-minute hike in the wrong direction I flag a biker who speaks English and ask him the way to Rajka.  He corrects my pronunciation “Rye-ka”. “Five kilometers” he says. “But, the other way.”  I don’t love the news but I could kiss him in thanks for guidance.

Trudging onward in the oppressive heat I am delighted to see a cafe, and like the day before, I find religion in a bottle of orange Fanta.  As I sit (still lost) the music blares over the speakers:

“Now, I’ve had the time of my life…no I’ve never felt this way before…Yes, I swear… it’s the truth…and I owe it all to yoooouuuu!”

Pretty river

Pretty river

This leads me to think about how much I love Patrick Swayze and how I wish instead of being dead he was walking this trail with me. Which somehow leads me back to being thankful I am alive and not dead like him so I can walk this trail. So, you see, while sitting at a cafe in Hungary, Patrick Swayze led me to a more positive attitude.  It’s like Patrick Swayze was my personal angel.  Wonders never cease.

The crowd at the restaurant is all European. And all on bikes or rollerblades (hello 1987).  I’ve yet to see another walker. Between the heat and humidity, the solo-ness  and the confusion, suddenly this is all feeling very Jeju-Olle-Trail-esqe.  But I’ll give it more time to see what unfolds.

After all, I wanted an adventure and that’s what I’m getting.

Leaving the restaurant I am thrilled to see a red arrow. I follow faithfully and soon I am crossing the canal again and heading into the forest. I fear wild boars although I have no idea if they exist here.  My imagination is crazy.

Into the forest!

Into the forest!

Soon the shady forest opens to open fields of mowed hay.  Just 30 yards before arriving there is a fork in the road and I’m not sure which way to go.  A car honks a horn and I wonder if this is Adam coming to meet me or maybe someone who can guide me.  I stand on the dirt road making eye contact with the driver.  His eyes meet mine.  And then he speeds by, on this country road, leaving me in a cloud of dust.

I continue on and find the right driveway.  And hear horses neighing. And see two Mongolian yurts and many outbuildings and a grand house with a roof made of thatched straw like in a fairytale.  Flowers spill out of window flower boxes in a waterfall of color.

“Hello! Hellooooo!” I shout as I walk the property.  No answer.

Walking towards the trees.

Walking towards the trees.

Soon a young woman arrives and I ask her if she is the owner. “No. I feed horse.”  “Do you know when the owner will be back?”

“Maybe one hour.”  A dog with dreadlocks barks at me and a needy Border Collie can’t get close enough, herding me at every turn.  I am so tired that I duck into the Mongolian yurt I have seen in EPW pictures and collapse on a bed.  Sleep overcomes me.

Hours later, I ask the same woman if the owner has arrived. “No.” 

Discouraged, I lay on the crabgrass lawn, it’s blades annoying me with their prickle, staring at the clouds.  I feel exhausted, dirty and hungry.  What am I doing here?, I wonder.

As the sun sets I go looking for the owners again.  As I approach the house, a man comes to the door.  He looks shocked to see me.  He speaks to me in Hungarian but of course I understand nothing. His son arrives and explains that they were not expecting me – why they weren’t could not be explained.

Menu

Menu

They gave me a PeaceWalker shirt, wristband and a “passport” and asked me if I would like dinner, offering me a menu from a local restaurant.  Despite being 99.9999% vegetarian for 33 years,  I order the “Pullett Cordon Blue with French Fries” mostly because French Fries sound incredible!  And also because I’ve never had Cordon Blue, but heard about it my whole life (I didn’t really even know what it consisted of) but somehow it sounds outstandingly delicious to my racked body.

As a storm rolls in, so does my luck. Due to rain, the owners move me from the hot yurt to a room as cozy as Laura Ingalls’ cabin.  And fresh cool breezes roll in too!

And then the son of Adam informs me that there is a group of five due to arrive here tomorrow!

The founder of the EPW writes to me after reading my blog, concerned for my safety as a solo walker due to the heat. He tells me about the group also.  So, without hesitation, I agree to wait here for a day and join the group.

The Cordon Blue arrives and my host delivers the meal with two shots of clear alcohol.  We toast, he teaches me how to toast in Hungarian, and I thank him and son profusely.  Suddenly, everything is ok.

One reason I love long walks is that they are so metaphorical for life.  And today’s reminder is that no matter how grim things seem, better news can be just around the corner.

Feeling thankful.

space

Distance Supposed to Walk Today: Had I walked it would have been 22 kilometers (13.6 miles)

Distance Actually Walked Today: I’m guessing 10-15 kilometers

[mappress mapid=”11″]

 

European Peace Walk – Day 2 Tips

Important: I took the bus option but still I can’t stress enough: BRING WATER!

Terrain: With the bus option, 70% pavement. Flat.

Accommodation: A beautiful horse farm with dogs, cats, geese, chickens, sheep, and horses.  Multiple outbuildings, including yurts for walkers. The host, Adam, does not speak English but his son does.  Wifi: yes, I found an open connection. Food: You order from a menu and the food is delivered. Water: Water on property is drinkable.

Tip: It is possible to have your bags delivered to the next town, the next day, for 20 euros.  That is the cost whether there are 10 bags or one, so splitting this cost between walkers makes it a bargain.

Thank you to Ted Barram for sponsoring today’s walk and this post.

Photos of Day 2 of the European Peace Walk (click to view):

8 Comments

  1. Whew! The EPW founder wasn’t the only one very concerned over your safety; very glad indeed that you will have others around. Hope you’re able to get re-hydrated and recover from your stomach bug soon!

  2. You seem to be handling the tail perfectly! What doesn’t kill you Scott!

    • *trail

    • That’s right Gela!

  3. I am SO enjoying these posts, and the video Bear shared. Not only does the walk itself sound amazing.. you are an amazing writer. The detail pulls me right in. It’s funny, and at the same time I can feel your frustration. 🙂 With that said – I’m thrilled you won’t be walking alone. That’s way too scary, I worried for you.

  4. L-O-freakin’-L! Great post. 🙂

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