72.37km – 10H20’
Altitude : 110m
Budapest, « Pearl of the Danube » the temperature reached 25°C in the afternoon
We arrived in the Hungarian capital via the N31, which is undergoing works, so it was a bit confusing for Serge to make his way among the equipment and the alternating traffic. At km 26, the small Budapest sign marks the entrance to this city of 1.8 million inhabitants. The name Budapest was given in 1873 by the union of 3 cities: Buda, Obuda and Pest, when the country joined Austria to make the Austrio-Hungarian Empire (who’s Empress was the famous Sissi).
The sign is not up to this lovely capital, whose many tourists arrive mostly by plane so don’t care, and rightly so.
Thomas went with me this morning to reconnoiter and he will run 4 km with his father to guide him to Heroes’ Square, which commemorates the one thousandth anniversary of the country. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Palais des Arts (cultural center) are on either side of this square, which also marks the beginning of Avenue Andreassy. This beautiful, wide avenue, some 3km long is where the Opera is located and it is the opportunity Thomas has to guide his father between the Opera and Parliament. They will pass the splendid Saint Stephen Basilica before they join us. Serge poses for the camera a second time before he reaches the Chain Bridge. This was the first bridge built to join both banks of the Danube in 1848. It was destroyed during WW II and rebuilt, identical to the original, in 1949 (today there are 7 bridges, of which the most recent and most southern dates from 1995). Here we are on the right bank of the river and above us are the imposing Royal Palace and the Fishermen’s Fort. A bit further south, the Citadel towers over the scene.
It is 2:50 PM; Serge is at the Parliament, having covered 54.5km. Since we began this race we have never crossed a capital so quickly and something tells René and me that Serge doesn’t plan on having a short day but wishes to take advantage of being ahead of schedule. I had planned 62 km but I lost. Fromm Chain Bridge to reach the exit from Budapest, i.e., from the south of the 12th district, there is a bike path. Bikes are used a lot in this country and the city has a well planned network of paths for pedestrians and cyclists, which, aside from the beauty of the architecture makes it very pleasant. There are several railroad lines, tramways snake through the city and trolleys give an old fashioned atmosphere. The Metro entrances we have seen appear to be antique (I read that the first European metro was in Budapest). Hungarian drivers are impressively fair play behind the wheel, more than I have ever seen before: no horn honking, they always leave you room to change lane or leave a parking space. It’s impossible to find more courteous behind the wheel. Statistics indicate there are 20 million tourists per year here, which is twice the population of the country (France has 70 million tourists, just slightly more than the French population).
In addition to the fact that Serge will have run over 70km in a capital (it’s a first) Budapest will leave us with memories of a pleasant day, well-filled for the support team, as usual you will say. Two or three onlookers stopped to know what we are doing and a man came to shake Serge’s hand and take a photo. Otherwise, it’s solitude, like we had in Sofia. We got used to having company in Romania but busy as we are, we don’t have the time to be bored.
Sinon, une question m’interpelle, nous avons stationné pas toujours de façon très académique et nous n’avons vu ni policiers, ni représentants de l’ordre de quelque type qu’ils soient, sont-ils transparents ?
I do have a question. We have not always parked in the most academic manner, yet we have seen no police or law enforcement people of any kind. Are they transparent?
Town : Budapest
GPS : N 47.24’06.5° E 019.00’55.4 °