I start my day by being locked inside the hotel. The gate and doors are all locked for security but it also prevents departure. It’s just after 6am and I had told the reception that I wanted to leave this early. They even packed me a take away breakfast, given that food was included in the room price. I try the doors and knocking on the reception desk. It takes about twenty minutes before anyone appears. The girl who checked me in has literally rolled out of bed to hand me the keys and will no doubt roll back into bed again as soon as I roll out onto the street.
Once out on the road life is pretty good again. I start spinning my wheels south in the general direction of Pecs. The landscape has changed and I am cruising now through gently rolling hills. I wouldn’t say they are mountains but it’s also not flat. While wheat dominated the flat lands, capsicum plants seem to dominate these rolling hills.
And there is also plenty of hay being cut, dried and rolled. I haven’t seen much livestock out here though so wonder whether it will be used as mulch or sold as a commodity. It does look pretty baled up in the sunshine.
I stop in Somogyvar for breakfast. The sandwiches that were packed are bread rolls packed with salami and hot capsicums. I take off the capsicum and enjoy the sandwich. The village shop seems to be a popular gathering place. An lady who is probably in her eighties sits on the bench next to me. She asks me questions in Hungarian and I work out that she’s wanting to know whether I am on a touring route. I use my translation app to tell her I am here for a month and my map to show her where I’ve been and am going. She pats me on the shoulder smiling. The encounter leaves me feeling warm and happy.
In Kaposvar I have cycled 55km. There is free wifi outside a supermarket so I look up some local geocaches to see what’s around. One is hidden near the house where Imre Nagy was born. He was Hungary’s Prime Minister for a short period in the 1950s. The geocache is cleverly hidden. Another geocache takes me to a gorgeous big park with a fountain and some statues. It is overrun with small children who are on a school excursion. It is the final week of school for the academic year here in Hungary and groups of children and teenagers are being chaperoned by teachers in almost every park or museum. Next week they will all be on summer holidays so it’s good that I have left Lake Balaton behind.
Kaposvar is a fairly large town. It has both old and new sections. The old section is quaint.
Leaving Kaposvar the road gets quieter and the landscape more rural. The villages are all separated by small low hills making their appearance and personalities more noticeable. It’s hot and I’ve ridden a long way but the kilometers click by relatively easily thanks to all there is to see.
I see many cute cars today too like Ladas and Fiats. This one is particularly cool. I first saw it in Kaposvar and the again in Orfu. It looks so tiny in Kaposvar where it is surrounded by larger cars but so at home on the small country roads around Orfu. Every time I see it I realise that I’m in Europe. Because the reality is that if you are just cycling looking at farming scenery there are moments when you could be almost anywhere in the world and it’s the small things that distinguish local flavour.
105km after I left Lake Balaton I arrive at the lakes around Orfu. They look fantastic in the afternoon sun. Long boats are rowed along to the beat of drums, people swim in the water and sunbathe on the shores, and umbrellas mark the location of a few bufes. The camping is at the far end of the largest lake. It doesn’t look like much at first because work men are renovating a section of the entrance structure and the lawns haven’t been fully mowed. But it turns out to be quite pleasant and good value at just 1,530HUF ($7 or 5 euros). After setting up camp I sit at a comfortable table in the wifi zone near reception to update my blog. Tomorrow I will stay here to work for the day, to swim in the lake and to plan my onward journey.