August 31 Budapest

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 31st, 2010
I arrived at the Wiking Marina, under the Pad Arpad Danube bridge, yesterday evening. The weather forcast was worse for today than it was yesterday. So, I got a 7.30 start and went from k.m. 1806 to k.m. 1651 in 11 hours. That is almost 1oo miles which would have been a decent day distance in a 24 hour period sailing on the ocean. It is a good day to do chores, laundry, etc. I have a mechanic retorque the head on the engine. I never did this since I had the engine apart last fall and I was supposed to do this after running the engine for at least 20 hours. And this might be the cause of the black smoke. But otherwise the engine has been running well and I hold my breath that it will make it to the Black Sea. The old Renault 16 HP engine never had much use other than to get in and out of a slip or a harbor. Till I did the ICW a couple times and from Amsterdam to here it must have run more than in its prior 30 years. 
I wrote the previous blog on Friday from Bratislava. When I left the internet cafe it had started to rain in earnest and I got soaked through my old foulies and lost my way. A very nice gentleman took pity on me. We put the folding bike in the trunk and he drove me to the marina. Saturday the weather was dark and rainy and I did some hand laundry and slept a lot, hoping this would be help the troubled eye get better. Sunday I got up early and took another ride into Bratislava. This early on Sunday the traffic was not as bad on the highway portion without a bicycle path. I went to 9 a.m. mass at the Saint Martinus dom. The liturgy was in Latin and the sermon and readings in Slovak. What an experience to be in this magnificent church. Bratislava used to be the capital of the Hungarian kingdom, till the Brits and the French turned it into part of the new Tsechoslovakia, after the first world war. Between 1563 and 1830 eleven Hungarian kings and queens were crowned in this church, including Maria Theresia.
I left the marina at 1.30 p.m. and made it to a very pleasant anchorage near a town ( I am not kidding…) named Horny Bar. That Sunday afternoon I passed through the last lock for another 900 k.m.s. till I get into Serbia. What a releive. Not only the hassle but the average 1 hour wait. So, that was one of the reasons I made such good distance yesterday. And with that prospect I figure that I’ll be done with the remaining 1651 k.m. by the end of September. There will be several days for stepping and repairing the mast in or near Sulina.
Unfortunately the weather has not been ideal for taking pictures here in the last few days.
I might have mentioned the book that Negley Farson wrote about his descent of the Danube in 1925, using the former Ludwig Canal and the Main River. He wrote the following about Budapest:
“You are now on the edge of Civilization” I was told in Vienna. Sitting down here in Budapest hearing the laughter and life of the gay evening parade on the Corso and seeing across the clean tree shaded Danube the stupendous grey pile of the Royal Palace I am wondering on which edge the meant. Surely the savants of Vienna knew what they were talking about this part of the world is their playground. Yet this city is infinitely more beautiful than Vienna, refreshingly cleaner and gives me a feeling of security, contentment and well being almost unknown in the Austrian capital. A writer has to watch his superlatives when describing this pearl of the Danube for Budapest seems to be the most adorable, bewitching and intoxicating city in Europe. It is all tha Vienna might have been and isn’t.”
I hope the Austrians do not take offense but so far I have not been disappointed in what I expected to find. Last night I saw the bridges illuminated and today I rode my bike to both sides of the Danube. I find it to have all the charms and impressive sights, wide boulevards, of  Paris, Buenos Aires and Washington D.C.  but the passing of the many different cultures and ownerships since the birth of Europe have left a distinct feeling and mark to this pearl on the Danube. I had been looking forward to see Budapest and very much enjoyed the visit to Bratislava. I still have much to look forward to before I reach Turkey.


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