Danube Bend, Hungary
There is a section of the Danube River north of Budapest known as the Danube Bend, which is dotted with small, picturesque towns that are popular tourist attractions. Naturally we had to seek out a few to see what all the fuss was about. Our first stop was Esztergom, which we could see from miles away due to its huge Basilica (the largest church in Hungary) sitting on top of a hill. We climbed to the summit, wandered in and around the Basilica, and soaked up the Danube views. It was a fantastic church, inside and out – definitely one of the better ones we have seen.
It started raining so we didn't bother with the rest of the town, instead choosing to continue on to Visegrád. Again we spotted the town well before we reached it, this time due to a citadel sitting atop a hill. It took us a while but we managed to find the right road to drive all the way to the top (it would have taken hours to walk up there), where we leisurely strolled through the old castle. Like in Eger I wasn't impressed by the castle, but the views of the Danube and surrounding countryside were fantastic (now that it had stopped raining). The river wasn't the brilliant blue colour I was expecting given all its hype, but rather it had a green-brown hue that wasn't appealing.
Third stop: Vác. Vác is on the other side of the Danube, requiring us to catch a ferry across the water. This ferry only leaves once an hour. We waited 35 minutes before making the trip over, then gave ourselves half an hour to see the town before jumping on the ferry to go back again. Luckily for us Vác is a small town, and most of the sights are in the centre square. It was one of the better town squares we had seen in a while, although it wasn't really square-shaped – I would probably call it triangle. In the middle was a fountain surrounded by vibrant flowers, and a huge church plus colourful buildings ran along the edges. We then wandered over to the cathedral, which was massive for such a small town, before quickly running back to the ferry. On the return journey across the river we witnessed a beautiful sunset, our first in months. Now that we are back to regular daylight hours hopefully this will be more of a regular occurrence.
Stupidly we parked on a cobblestone road overnight, so it was an early wake up call for us this morning with all the cars driving past noisily. To add to the misery, Danny was in the middle of making his morning coffee when the gas suddenly ran out (I'm sure this same problem happened only a few weeks ago). Luckily we are near a big city, so hopefully it won't be too hard to find a place to fill up the bottle.
We headed into our final town on the Danube Bend, Szentendre, to see what it had to offer us. Every cobblestone street seemed to be overrun with tourists and construction, which ruined the appeal of the town a little. I tried climbing a hill for views over the Danube, but of course construction blocked my way. The main touristy streets were charming, full of quaint shops selling stuff we really don't need. They even had a Christmas shop - I'm not sure how much business it would get in July.
On our way to Budapest we tried desperately to resolve our lack-of-gas problem. First we tried a hardware store that sold barbecues, but not the gas needed to run them. A shop assistant suggested one of the huge all-in-one supermarkets, so that was our next attempt. We could only find one litre bottles, which would probably last us all of two weeks. Service stations were also of no help, as their bottles were all too big for our van. At this point we gave up and drove on to Budapest, hoping a solution would miraculously appear before us.