Breakfast engulfed in low cloud but by the time Mac n Tosh finished licking the yogurt pots the cloud had disappeared to reveal the mighty fortress. Up early, so we could take our time to travel through the rest of Slovakia and be in Hungary by nightfall.
Zehra village is a few kilometres down the road from Spis castle with a spotlessly clean parking lot and small lawned area leading up to a small church. With fresh water we took the opportunity to wash some clothes. As we emerged from Vin, we were greeted by a road sweeper and his wife. At first, we thought they might be council workers but as we watched them, we have a gut feeling they were gypsies collecting disused items for their camp. Either way, they were doing a fine job of cleaning up the place.
As we filled containers with water, a drunk slouched on the bench clutching an empty beer bottle. Occasionally lifting his head to have a conversation with himself before passing out again. He was no trouble or at least in this state.
I was busy putting the washing in the boxes when an old gypsy woman peered from behind the bus shelter to watch. She was curious and slowly edged her way over. Despite the heat she was wrapped up well in layers of clothes and a headscarf. A complete contrast to my shorts and t-shirt.in this weather. She was really nice and even though we didn’t exchange any conversation we shared a smile or two. It might sound odd but I really enjoyed her company, a gentle old lady.
We walked up a flight of stairs to the 13th century romanesque church. It was locked but then out the blue, a lady appeared and asked us if we wished to enter. Five minutes later she reappeared with the key. We stepped inside the small church to find it covered from head to toe in frescoes and paintings. It was beautiful. The most revered fresco was currently under renovation and it will take several years to complete. She told us a little of the history as well as point out some of the key details. A great little detour.
The grave yard was rather weird though. It contained husband and wife graves with engraved pictures of the couple on the marble headstones. The majority of the graves only contained one of the couples, the other was still alive and kicking just the grave etched ready and waiting. Personally found that a bit spooky.
Our Bumble Verdict: nice bolt on when visiting Spis castle.
The gypsy lady lives just outside of Zehra in what you would probably refer to as a slum. As we passed by, she waved and I waved back, we both smiled. The rest of the gypsy camp looked at her slightly bewildered. As we approach the end of road, figures were scattered amongst the grassy boulders, washing clothes, scrubbing kids and preparing food. A handful of young teenagers collecting apples from road side.
We opt to take the road less travelled and head out in to the country lanes and over the valley pass. All the way hugging the pea green river. The narrow waters wind through the very picturesque countryside with fields full of sunflowers, wheat or pumpkins. The river is the back garden, the washroom and playground to many a family who live in small wooden river houses on stilts. As we bumble down the hillside and over the bridge the children run out to watch us pass.
We pulled over for a spot of lunch and to dry the clothes. By the time we’d eaten, fed the dogs and dried the dishes the clothes were bone dry. We moved on.
But a few miles further on we climbed higher up a mountain side and into a succession tree lined roads. The air was sticky and humid. The villages sometimes no more than a few houses and a church in a gap between were stunningly pretty. We had planned to stop at Kosice but the sprawling city didn’t really hold much appeal after all the quaint villages, so we bumbled on.
As we head out of town, police are clustered around a drunk on one of the benches. They are taking details but the drunk is clearly on another planet. Further down the road more police, this time a crash involving half a dozen cars. Thankfully no one looked too badly injured.
Several miles of roadside mushroom sellers before we arrive in Hungary. We stop at the border to find out the rules and register for a vignette. Fortunately, we don’t have to join the 100’s of lorry drivers queuing to buy their vignette. Instead we join the regular queue but the system is not easy. We find ourselves completely frustrated by the whole affair. It is complex and not tourist friendly.
As we are over 3.5 tonnes we need to record our ‘exact’ route and timescales in Hungary. For 2 people who just travel were ever the road goes, it was a nightmare to work out a route. Not only that, if we venture off the route or exceed our time we will be fined unless of course we notify the authorities accordingly. The poor guy dishing out the tickets was as equally miffed and fed up as us, clearly he hated the bureaucracy of the job. We paid our €10 obtained our printed route, which gives us about 36 hours in the country. Jeez, looks like the vignette determines our time here.
We moaned for a mile or two. We don’t mind paying but we do mind the restrictions and lack of freedom. Eventually we got back in the swing of things until BASH. One of the cupboards swung open, the bumpy roads have taken their toll on one of the latches. Its snapped. Good job Craig is well prepared with a spare on hand.
We wind through the village of Mad with endless vineyards. We pulled over a few times but didn’t feel comfortable, so moved on to Tokaj. The Turks burned the town and demolished the castle in 1567. It was subsequently rebuilt, then retaken, then taken again, switching possession several times, so its central historic core is pretty small. A wander through the village, which felt more like a ghost town. Wine cellar after wine cellar all closed and deserted. How bazaar. Tokaj wine is world renown and is even mentioned in Hungary’s national anthem: “On Tokaj’s vine stalks you have dripped nectar.”
Our Bumble Verdict: Tokaj may be famous for wine but the town is nothing special.
Our motorhome sleepy spot: Small free car park in the middle of Tokaj historic town surrounded by nice gardens and statues with the river just to our side.
Wild Camping GPS position Tokaj N048.124631, E021.411510
Route: Spis to Tokaj, Hungary