A day of cycling South West from Budapest and you will arrive at lake Balaton, also known as the ‘Hungarian Sea’. At 200km around it’s the largest lake in central Europe and lucky for me has a cycle path the whole way round. A short journey on the South along the waterfront path led me past some small man-made beaches, through a kilometer of clubs and pubs, and past some really grand 19th century houses. Near half way along I took the ferry just a few hundred metres across the lake to the North side, climbed the hill and was welcomed by almost 40 kilometres of uninterrupted cycle path and spectacular views. Never have I seen a lake so blue.
After a swim in the lake and a night by the water, I set off to the border. To my surprise there were border guards – the first I’ve seen since I left (I thought Croatia was in the EU but it’s not). They didn’t seem too concerned though and after a couple of minutes and a stamp on my passport I was through to Croatia. Up and down the many steep hills, second only to Cornwall, I made my way to the small town of Cakovec and was submerged in a new language, currency and culture. A street party caused me to spend my night watching some young Croatian rock bands before heading to sleep in a nearby field.
The next morning involved some minor maintenance to the bike (the first since I left almost three months ago), mainly indexing the gears and tightening the brake cables. Unfortunately my obsession for perfection kicked in and I spent four hours working in a Lidl car park being tormented by the locals. One even parked on my multi-tool.
So camping behind a horses stable, in a vineyard, beside a lake and on a couple of farms…I’ve found my way to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. It’s so hot here all the time. I think I might have seen a cloud yesterday but it could easily have been a mirage. Just now I’m sitting on the floor with a fan pointed directly at my face because it’s 32 degrees outside, at 8pm. The last few days it hasn’t even gone below 20 degrees at night. Hence the ‘bottle shower’ was born. This is something which I have created from my travels without a conventional (fixed) shower. It’s practical, mobile and involves standing naked in a field and pouring water over your head from a squeezy bottle. It’s surprisingly refreshing.