June 22nd to 24th Maribor to Pecs
We decided to cross over from Slovenia to take the scenic road which ran mainly in Croatia about 20 miles inside the Hungarian border for a good two thirds of the way. Wide open plains, very, very flat with big rivers flowing through now and again. Quite a lot of arable land and not so much of the wooded alpine countryside which we had had the other day up from coastal Croatia. It was a pretty slow trip, even though there was little traffic about, the locals stick rigidly to the speed limit, which has probably saved us a few fines! Crossing into Hungary, the change again in scenery. Lots of forest, but no signs for bears, boars or wolves, so far.
Pecs is a grand town, very handsome buildings, good sculptures and cafe scene. The shoes are more UK prices, though was unable to find a pair to fit, so far..... You get 370 Hungarian furints to the £1, so working out the prices is entertaining. 2600 Hft's for a main dish, sounds so much better as £7 ! The meals are substantial and fish dishes abound, which is better in this hot weather than a huge stew or great chunks of pork. Chicken dishes are tasty too, bulk is definitely the thing. Not that there are many overweight folk around, must be all the cycling they do which keeps them slim. We wandered around the shops and alley ways and in the main square came across the Leonardo Da Vinci horse. It is enormous, powerful and such a piece of luck that the exhibition was on whilst we were here. Jeff Warmington would feel at home here as they have a little white tourist train around the town too.
By the hotel we are in, now that is another subject! Hotel Millenium is an amazing piece of architecture, which is cramped by its location. You cannot really get the full impression as it is part of the hilly street above the town walls, shoehorned into its site. Anyway back to opening line, by the hotel there is a path and steps up to a monument. It was part of a Jesuit property and the stations of the cross were built within the gated and walled area. Sadly, although some years ago the Pecs inhabitants paid for renovations, it is overgrown and very neglected. On the stairway weeds, empty bottles, egg cartons and sundry rubbish litter all over. If it was opened up it would be very impressive and with great views across the town on offer too.
Today we went out for a run to view the Nike Monument to the fallen. A vast sculpture up in the hills behind Pecs. It was our second attempt at finding it, had caught a glimpse as we drove into town. Again the immediate vicinity is scruffy and uncared for. Litter, signs and lights have been strewn and wrecked and even graffiti on the statue itself. Set overlooking the whole plain, if you can ignore the dereliction, it is a splendid piece of art. Even the sign to the carpark has been removed.
After that, we decided to continue up the steep hill, it went on for miles, through fantastic woodland, a proper forest, made Cardinham Woods or Haldon seem like copses. Then we saw a sign "Welcome to Paradise" so decided to continue, this led us to Orfu. Orfu has a lake and is equipped with several camping areas, a group of yurts (though not luxury ones), a swimming lido, eateries and so on. All set in a gorgeous valley within the the forest. Cycle tracks galore, though for the terrain you need good strong legs, apart from the route around the lake. Came across a family of Roma cutting the roadside grass with scythes and loading into a wagon to make hay for their horses. The horses were enjoying the experience, eating as they went. A sight not seen in the west for eons. In all a lovely place to find and only 15km from Pecs.