Europe 1987

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Europe 1987

It was raining again this morning, and the rain continued for most of the day.  We packed the car and left at 9:00am for the full day’s drive to Budapest, Hungary.  The actual driving time was estimated to be only about four hours, but naturally we allowed lots of extra time for the border crossing.  We also made a short stop for rest and walking (in the rain) at the lovely old town on Hainburg, a very pretty town on the Danube River with an old, picturesque town centre and an amazing, tall stone archway through which the road passes.

Unlike Czechoslovakia, which has a justified reputation as one of the more hard-line Communist countries, Hungary has a reputation for being somewhat more relaxed and liberal.  This seemed to be confirmed by our border crossing from Gattendorf in Austria through to Hegyeshalom in Hungary, which was pleasant and fairly stress-free.  Our drive continued through Győr and then took the road that followed the southern bank of the Danube River to Esztergom.

Esztergom is one of the oldest towns in Hungary, having been a royal residence during the Middle Ages.  Consequently, it has a large palace which is under repairs, so we were unable to inspect it.  However, ascending the hill on which it was built gave us a wide, elevated view over the old town of Esztergom (including the beautiful St Ignatius Church) in one direction, and great views across the Danube River to the city of Štúrovo in Czechoslovakia on the far bank in the other direction.  Štúrovo was, of course, inaccessible to us even had we possessed new visas because the bridge joining the two banks was missing three of its spans in the middle of the river.  Apparently, the bridge was blown up by retreating German troops on 26th December 1944 and has still not been repaired because of continuing stubborn refusals on both sides to co-operate (so much for Communist solidarity and brotherhood!). 

We arrived in Budapest mid-afternoon as the weather was clearing.  Hungary does not have dedicated, purpose-built Youth Hostels, but the international Youth Hostels organisation (YHA) has made arrangements to outsource with some local providers.  In our case, our Youth Hostel accommodation was in a high-rise block of student accommodation that had been vacated for the summer break at Irinyi József utca 17 (Kármán Todor College, part of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics).  Being student accommodation, our room was small and sparsely furnished with cheap fittings, but with great views if you like scenes of busy main roads with tram lines and high-rise housing blocks.  Fortunately, I do, and my camera was ready for action.

Day 14

Vienna to Budapest

Sunday 26 July 1987