Around 4 years ago from today the idea of cycling from London to Budapest began to take shape. What started as a drunken idea between some friends, has since developed into a possibility, a plan and then reality. It was just 9 months ago that the trip was decided upon for definite; 7 months since we had our full team together; 6 months since we began training and ordering kit; 2 months since we finalised our exact route; 28 days until we felt completely ready for the adventure; and yes finally 27 days since we set off from London. I am now pleased to report though, as you may already have guessed from the photo, that we have arrived in Budapest on schedule!
Our last blog put us at our final overnight stay before arriving in the capital of Hungary. As we set off on the Thursday morning we were in high spirits, although perhaps for different reasons: knowledge that we only had 15 miles to the finish line was one, the culmination of a hard physical challenge was another and I suspect the relief that this would be the last ever bowl of forced porridge rations was welcome to some of our team members. After just a few miles we started to hit the outskirts of Budapest, following one of the main roads into the city centre. We turned away from this (before it got too busy and cycle unfriendly) towards the north and up into the central Buda part. The city is split into two regions by the Danube: the Buda on the west side and the Pest on the east side. The Buda side also happens to be very hilly which gave us our final significant exertion of the trip. After making our way near to the castle district we headed east again towards the river and dropped down to the beautiful Széchenyi Chain Bridge to cross over to the Pest side.
By this point we were just a 10 minute cycle from the finish line where we would be meeting our supportive friends (Emily, Bekki and Mark) who had flown into Budapest the night before. We had agreed on a time of 12pm exactly but as it happens we were running quite early so we decided to grab some drinks and sit by the river for a little while and take in the city view. Feeling satisfied and full of lemony beer we set off on our final pedals of the trip and headed towards Szabadsag park where we were expecting to meet everyone. As we entered into the middle of the park we were greeted with balloons, waving, a finish line, giant flags of the UK and Hungary and many words of congratulation as we came to a halt. The team had really gone to a superlative effort, they were complete with white Budapedal t-shirts donned with the slogan “Official Team Supporter” and had even made up some mini Budapedal logo flags out of napkins and iron on prints! All of which was much appreciated and made for quite a sight as we arrived. Will decided to take the initiative as we rolled in by speeding ahead and taking the finish line banner for himself, but of course this was a team victory overall 🙂
The 7 of us then made our way to the top of the park to get some good photos. We must have made quite a spectacle as several passers by began to take pictures of our group and wonder what this Budapedal thing was all about. I think the Official Team Supporter t-shirts helped on this front.
After checking into our hostel and having a well deserved shower we made plans to head to one of the natural hot baths in Budapest complete with a massage and sauna. We were hoping for a nice relaxing experience to take away the muscle pains of the last 27 days of cycling. The experience in the end was certainly interesting. Myself and Fergus found it beneficial where as Will emerged from the room almost limping and complaining of a much more sore back than before. The large, tattoo covered, Hungarian man he went on to describe (who had given him his massage) didn’t sound ideal but never mind.
Since then we have been enjoying the delights of Budapest (hence the delay in this blog post), which has proven itself to be a fantastic city to visit.
So that about wraps up our final day of cycling. We all still can’t quite believe we have finished, but it certainly feels good not to be in the bike saddle any more! After spending a few days in Budapest our plan now is to go down to Siofok (about 70 miles south-west of Budapest) which is alongside lake Balaton, the largest in central Europe. From there we travel back to Budapest again to pack ourselves, bikes and kit onto a plane bound for the UK.
Before we head off though we have got to say firstly a massive thank you to everyone who has sponsored us both in the run up and during our adventure! It has been fantastic to watch the total grow as we cycled! We have exceeded our target of £1000, the current total including gift aid is £1300. And by the way, if you have still yet to donate (or are feeling extra generous) our donation website is still open at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/budapedal.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog over the last month, thanks again to everyone for your support!!
Szia from Budapest,