Saturday, 29 May 2010

The city gets on its bikes

Last Monday was a public holiday for Pentecost. And as the cold wet weather had faded away to be replaced by warm days with the occasional intense thunderstorm we decided we had the opportunity to take a small day trip up the river to Szentendre.

Helen had bought a bicycle on Saturday so this would give us a good chance to take it out for a ride. Szentendre had been the first place outside Budapest that I cycled to back in the winter, and on that day there had been hardly any other bicycles going along the river, but now, with warm weather upon us and a public holiday the paths and roads up to Szentendre were absolutely packed with bicycles. I was both astonished and delighted, as it made it all feel very jolly, groups of old people, young people, families, all pedalling along on a wide variety of bicycles in the spring sunshine.

Just north of the city centre is an area called Romaifurdo, where the river bank is packed with outdoor cafes and restaurants, all of which seemed to have pretty much the same menu, combinations of fried fish and beer. Simple, but the cafes were full of people sitting, laughing, talking and generally enjoying the holiday.

The ride up the river is very pretty and very easy, and the main problem was avoiding all the other bicycles. However, the flooded river meant that the path was under water at one point so we had to make a detour through the woods.

Szentendre was as pretty as it had been in February but much busier, and the tourist-oriented cafes and restaurants had their tables and chairs out in the streets, so of course we sat and enjoyed a sun-warmed cold beer, and later I had a beetroot ice cream, which was truly delicious if a little unusual.

Helen decided that her bottom could manage the return journey, so we set off back. The fried fish and beer cafes were still doing a good trade at 6 p.m. as we passed through.

We finally made it back home by about 7, to collapse, enjoy a little red wine and watch as the day's thunderstorm rolled over us, dropping its torrents of rain.

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