I woke up bruised and battered from yesterday’s falls. Thankfully I only had about 50km left so I gave myself a pep talk and packed my panniers. I put on some make up because I’d been carrying it around so thought I should wear it at least once to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to do it. I also wore the LBD that I’d packed. You know, to celebrate my last day of cycling.
Yesterday I mentioned how I had started referring to my bike and I as ‘we’ and today I started thinking that we should probably spend some time apart. For a moment I seriously wondered if my bike was getting sick of me. Those aren’t the thoughts of a person in their right mind. I definitely need to go home.
I had a few days to see Budapest, and find a way to get me and my bike home in time to dance on our float at Notting Hill Carnival (*puts on Anneka Rice jumpsuit).
I picked up the pace and just nailed it through what was by far the hottest day of the whole trip. Before long I could see the bridges over the Danube that linked Buda to Pest. As always, after a long time on the road, reaching my final destination was totally anticlimactic and all emotions were overridden by hunger and tiredness.
I checked into a hostel, lay down and finally let my body rest. My muscles could feel every mile. My shoulder that I had fallen on yesterday was starting to reach peak hurt and I could barely lift my arm.
I’m not sure I’m telling it right because people I meet seem really impressed with my journey until they realise I’ve cycled on a real bike and not a motorbike. Then they just think I’m mad.
I spent a wonderful three days in Budapest seeing the sights, relaxing in the baths and eating. It’s no wonder that this town is known as the pearl of the Danube.
I can honestly say, hands down, that the hardest part of this whole trip was getting from Budapest to Budapest airport. I gave myself loads of time because I had to get to the airport and find a box or some way to pack up my bike. I managed to get a last minute British Airways flight for £90 which included a free piece of large luggage (my bike). I was having visions of breaking it down and bribing a bunch of other passengers to each take a piece as carry-on.
I swear that airports are always surrounded by an impenetrable forcefield of motorways. The map showed a path that did not exist. I kept going around and couldn’t get through. I finally managed to get in but it was the freight entrance and they had no idea how I managed to get in but would absolutely not let me enter the airport. Eventually with my flight looming I had to flag down a taxi and beg possibly the angriest man in the world to take me. He was pointing in Hungarian that the airport was just there. I could see it too but “HAVE YOU EVER DONE IT ON A BIKE? HAVE YOU? IT’S IMPOSSIBLE.”
Ok, so I’ve since learnt that it can be done, but a wild state of panic sets in whenever I’m about to miss a flight.
My final challenge was boxing up my bike. Ideally I would have met someone cycling from Budapest to London and taken their bike-box back for them but as this wasn’t an option I broke my bike down and spent the remaining Hungarian coins I had getting the cling film guy to wrap my bike and a pannier bag together.
Sitting on the plane I realised I had cycled over 1000 miles and not got a single puncture. That’s got to be some kind of record.