Moving on, along the Danube
Well relaxed we set off on the next leg of our holiday towards Hungary where we have booked a holiday cottage for a week. Rather than taking the quickest way, along the motorway, we drive cross country to see a bit more of the Slovakian countryside. The roads are fairly good, even if you get on the smaller country roads. We stop once by a petrol station along a short stretch of motorway. There are disabled toilets, but we didn’t use them. When we get closer to the Danube, the land gets flatter and more agricultural.
We cross the river Danube at Esztergom, not realising until we are on the Hungarian side, that the best view of the city is actually from the Slovakian side, but by then we don’t fancy driving back over the bridge again. We shortly stop by the riverside to look up to the castle and cathedral, but don’t fancy the trek up the hill in the heat. So we continue along the river enjoying the views driving around the bend in the river where it turns south.
We stop again a bit later, in the village of Szentendre. Most parking is at the edge of the town, but we find a spot along the river, where there is a nice riverside walk and a lot of restaurants. A nice spot for lunch, in the shade, as it is still very warm. The roads going up from the riverside to the quaint village centre square are very cobbled and steep so I leave my husband by the restaurant while I run into town to get some money from the cashpoint (Hungary doesn’t use the Euro) and to take some photographs.
The road keeps following the Danube right to the centre of Budapest. As we arrive there the road along the river is closed off by the police because there is a flying show with old aeroplanes over the river. That also explains the extensive traffic jams. From Budapest we turn onto the motorway towards lake Balaton and arrive in Balatonvilágos by the end of the afternoon.
The village of Balatonvilágos is one of the first you get to on the south-eastern shore of the famous Lake Balaton. It is squeezed in between the the motorway and the lake shore, in a slightly elevated position above the lake, so it is not easy to walk to the beach from the village. Our holiday cottage is on the motorway side of the village, with just some fields between the house and the motorway, so there is some traffic noise. The noise is both from the motorway itself and the traffic taking a short-cut from the motorway to the lake passing by the house. There are actually two houses situated on the terrain. The owners are staying in the smaller of the two and are arriving later on the same day. The terrain is quite a bit lower than the road in front of it. The owner manages to get up the hill with his handbike, but I don’t fancy pushing my husband up it. The sidewalk is on the same level as the garden, but it is not very wide, so not easy for a wheelchair and there are not always dropped curbs at the streetcorners. There is a village shop and a café a bit down the road, and there is a disabled toilet in the café.
From the garden to the front door there is a bit of a slope again. There is a nice table to eat outside right next to the front door, but then it slopes down quite sharply, so I don’t dare to leave my husband in the wheelchair near the table on his own. The front door first leads to a sort of lean-to sunroom, which is almost completely filled by another dining-room, leaving just enough room for the wheelchair at the head of the table, but that leaves no room for anyone else to pass by. From the sun room there is another door to the living room, which is reasonably large, but quite full with furniture, which makes it cosy, with a sitting area and dining area, but it leaves not a lot of room to manoeuvre with a larger wheelchair.
On the side of the living room are two double bedrooms, both are wheelchairaccessible but in different ways. One has a double standard bed, but with a separate monkeypole, the other has a double bed, but with a profiling bed inside. The front bedroom is on the sunny side of the house and therefore warmer, the other bedroom is slightly cooler. Behind the kitchen is a bathroom, with both a roll in shower and a bath with a hoist. Here again there is quite a lot of furniture in the bathroom making manoeuvring with my husband’s large wheelchair quite difficult.
There is a nice garden around the cottage, but as it is very warm during our stay we don’t sit in the garden much. Also, the garden furniture is a bit low, for someone my age and ability…… So I usually sit at the dining table outside next to the front door, with the sun screen down.
Having said that, it is a lovely cottage and it is certainly accessible. And we were quite lucky to find it after our first reservation fell through just a few months before our holiday because the owners sold the place.
Because of the heat we spend quite a bit of time in and around the cottage relaxing, but of course we also want to see a bit of Hungary. So one day we drive all the way around Lake Balaton, using a lakeside road where we can. We stop for coffee in one of the towns on the lakeside, Balatonszàrszò. There is a lovely little park with some bars around it, leading all the way to the lakeside, where we sit for a while in the shade enjoying the views. There are even public disabled toilet facilities.
Later we stop again on the north shore in the village of Tihany. Even this early in the season it is quite busy with tourists in town, but we manage to find one of the few disabled parking spots in the centre, while it isn’t blocked by the tourist train. We don’t fancy walking up to the church but do walk around town a bit. We also have a late lunch.
Another day we drive to the old capital city of Székesfehérvár. At first it is difficult to find disabled parking facilities, but after we find the tourist information they show us where to find a suitable parking spot. I leave my husband drinking coffee and move the car. Afterwards we have a lovely walk around town. Some streets are cobbled and difficult to handle, but other streets are pedestrianised and have lovely paving. It is obvious that a lot of renovation is going on, but there is already a lot to see and do.
Of course you can’t go to Hungary without going to Budapest. It is just over an hour from our cottage, but worth it. We decide to start off in the old city of Buda, assuming there must be disabled parking facilities near the famous Matthias church. Traffic into town is extremely difficult, very busy, and that doesn’t change all day, but we find the road to the citadel. At a certain point there is a barrier over the road and the signs by the barrier are only in Hungarian. From the corner of my eye I see there is a parking site around the corner and there is a disabled spot available so we leave the car here. We later find out that the barrier over the road is there because there is paid parking all over the citadel. Our solution is very convenient and free. Close to where we are parked there is a lift going up to the citadel. The roads in the citadel are cobbled, but the sidewalks are fine. We walk towards the Matthias church which has wheelchair access through the entrance. However you have to get tickets first which are available at the other side of the square (special rates for disabled access). Parts of the church are on different levels with steps, but most of it is accessible. We have to leave through the entrance door which is swiftly cleared when I approach with the wheelchair.
Afterwards we have lunch under the trees on the other side of the square, but there are loads of nice places around. After lunch we visit the tourist information centre that has a lot of information about accessibility around the city. However, the heat has made us lazy. We have a look at the views from the fisherman’s bastion and walk around a bit.
The plan afterwards is to take the car to the City Park in Pest and walk around there. However we get stuck in traffic and by the time we get to the Park we don’t really have a lot of time and energy left to walk around so we leave that to the next time.
The last excursion is when we are on the road for the next part of our tour. On the way from lake Balaton to Bratislava we stop for lunch and a walk round in Veszprém. After driving around a bit in the centre of town we find a perfect parking spot on a square just under Veszprém Castle. Lovely restaurants around the square where we can sit outside and enjoy some lunch. As the road to the castle is again very cobbled and looks fairly steep my husband decides to stay at the restaurant while I have a quick run around the Castle area which is surprisingly large with many references to Maria Theresia and Sissi. Renovations have been started but a lot more is still needed. Lovely views from the castle hill.