The Big Storm

It’s been a crazy couple of days for us. A few days ago we were on a rest day at Lake Velence. On that day the wind picked up a lot in the afternoon and got to a point where we had to move the tent away from the lakeside to behind some bushes. Later that night, around midnight, a big storm whipped up, fuelled by the heat of the day. The storm started with flashes of lightning followed by the thunder claps a good few seconds later. The flashes of lightning made the inside of the tent light up like day every three or four seconds. Very eerie. I was attempting to count the number of seconds between the lightning and the thunder, trying to ascertain if the storm was coming closer or moving away from us. In my sleep induced stupor, I figured that it was moving further away and coupled with the fact that it wasn’t even raining, this seemed probable. However, about twenty minutes later, we were awoken by a massive thunder burst right overhead and raindrops, that seemed to be the size of golf balls immediately began falling onto our tent. The wind seemed to pick up instantaneously and was now battering our poor house. At one stage the wind blew a peg out the ground leaving some of the tent flapping around wildly – but there wasn’t much we could do about it now. Strangely enough, all I was thinking of was the fact that we didn’t have the saddle covers on our bikes! That should have been the least of my worries at the time, especially as we had our panniers outside the main compartment not fully closed as if expecting rain. After about an hour of madness it stopped almost as suddenly as it started. I was able to quickly run out in my boxer shorts and shoes to fix the tent. It continued to blow hard and pour for the rest of the night until the sunrise came and chased it all away. We were just very glad that we moved the tent earlier that day, otherwise we would still be searching for our stuff around the campsite!

The day after the storm we set off for Lake Balaton – a massive 100km long lake in Western Hungary, which is a very popular holiday destination for Eastern Europeans, Germans and Austrians. The heat was insane on the way to Lake Balaton. It was usually around 28-29 degrees for the whole day. I was pretty much burnt to a crisp at the end of the day – despite a few suncream stops. Even my scalp was burnt through the vent in my helmet!

About 30km from Lake Balaton we met a lycra cyclist (you know the type I mean), who was also heading towards the lake. He spoke in Hungarian and I said “English”, then he spoke in German to which I said “Nein” so finally he resorted to English and said “your bike no good, you need one like mine” while pointing to his lightweight carbon fibre speed machine. How could I argue? Truth be told, I envied his bike and his load which couldn’t have held more than a spare sock! Anyways, we chatted for a couple of minutes about our route and other such things, before he zipped into the distance leaving us to drag our worldly possessions up the hill. About three hours and 30km later we met him again (which was rather amazing since we took about eight wrong turns. This time he was coming towards us. He pulled over to assist directions and chatted a bit more. Very friendly chap he was. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the first campsite we had planned to get to. The second one, about 10km down the road was closed and deserted, the third was chained up and shut. Hmmm. It was getting dark at this point and we were both fed up coming across closed campsites. We didn’t have any options left. We had to start knocking on doors (only doors that had a sign outside saying ‘Apartman Frei’). After a couple of attempts someone took us in and we had a nice room for the night.

What a long day it was – time for some food. The whole town was deserted, hardly a person or a light to be found. We came across a cafe by the railway station and tried to order something familiar off the menu only to be told in Hungarian that only certain items of the menu (the bits that weren’t translated into English) were available at this time. After a bit of chatter backwards and forwards the waitress asked a customer to order something for us – at least that what we assumed happened – because two plates of food appeared! It turned out to be very tasty indeed. I suppose it’s a good way to taste new local dishes – get some random strangers to order us a surprise meal!

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