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  1. #1
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    anyone ever cycled in Hungary, Romania.

    ANy tips for a good tour. How was the scenery. It's pretty flat riding. I understand Hungary has great bike lanes; Romania tho?

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    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    I'm taking a two week tour from Sibiu starting the first week of Feb. so I'll report back when I finish.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankypants
    I'm taking a two week tour from Sibiu starting the first week of Feb. so I'll report back when I finish.
    appreciate that. Most of my biking will be between Budapest and Cluj, Romania. Cought up with some bike tour troupe returning from the Middle East last year. They said towns are remote and groceries have scarce products. Think they were mostly referring to like Bulgaria, maybe Romania? Don't think i'd bike thru the Balkans. To get supplies they had to stop at farmer's home and buy directly from the farmers. Wonder where you'd get an extra bike tube. ?

  4. #4
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    I have been to both countries, but not on my bike. However, I may be able to help some.

    When I was in Hungary, I really regretted not having my bike. I vagabonded around much of the country and constantly thought what a fabulous place it would be for a bike tour. Much of it was flat and the roads appeared to be in pretty good shape. ( I was primarily traveling by rail, but tried to take note of the road conditions as best I could from train windows.) Accommodations, etc were usually well spaced for bike touring distances, so I don't think there should be much concern about being stuck in remote places. The scenery was okay, but nothing spectacular. I did not see any bike lanes at all except for some in the heart of Budapest and Szeged, and some of these were of pretty poor design and frequently served more as auto parking than bikeway. It is my understanding that there may be an exclusive bikeway along the Danube River, though I did not see it.

    Romania is somewhat a different story. Though I spent some time in Bucharest, I traveled primarily in Transylvania so can't speak for other parts of the country. On the upside, the scenery was spectacular. On the downside from a cycling standpoint, there were some pretty high mountains. There were some flat areas, but much of Romania is hilly. I once hired a driver to take me to some of the more remote areas near Brasov. I did not have the opportunity to see that much of the road network, but what I did see was in much better condition than I had anticipated. I felt these roads were adequate for a bike tour. Do not recall seeing any bike lanes at all anywhere in the country. Romania is fast developing, but there may be areas where finding services may prove difficult. If riding through Romania, check your compassion at the door. Expect to see significant numbers of young children and terribly physically deformed people begging, sometimes to the point of physically touching you. There are large numbers of hungry stray dogs wandering the streets looking for a crumb and someone to take them home. You literally have to make an effort to shut this out of your mind and focus on the beauty and history around you. The currency is bewildering as they have been in the process of changing their notes (For instance, a new 50 lei note is the same value as an old 500000 lei note, and the coins are nothing short of maddening.)
    Hope this helped some. Feel free to contact me pm if you need more specific info.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  5. #5
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    thanks purple I have been told Romania is pretty undeveloped. Lots of poor, I assumed they were in the cities and particularily near Bucharest. Our riding will be strictly about Cluj and some of Transylvnia. Did you see lots of the countryside. That will be our focus. About Hungary. Seems I heard , the old Soviet roads for tank traffic, has been turned into bike lanes?

  6. #6
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleK
    ..... If riding through Romania, check your compassion at the door. Expect to see significant numbers of young children and terribly physically deformed people begging, sometimes to the point of physically touching you. There are large numbers of hungry stray dogs wandering the streets looking for a crumb and someone to take them home. You literally have to make an effort to shut this out of your mind and focus on the beauty and history around you....

    Not quite. Don't shut them out: be on a disciplined alert for gangs of urchins and 'adults' who will try and force you into giving them something, and throw rocks at point blank range if you don't. Nor will you be safe when you escape from one group....word spread like wildfire so be on your toes. If you have seen the movie Hostel, you get an idea of what we are talking about here.

    I did alot of riding in the Balkans but avoided the cities, as is my usual practice. In the country people are more decent. The deformed people PurpleK is talking about tend to be isolated in small towns, where they were shut off from the world so that gullible westerners didn't see this blemish on Communist perfection. I ran into similar 'enclaves' in Czechoslovakia when I toured there in the mid 1980s before the wall fell.

    The Carpathians are an amazing range that arches around and thru the country, unless many mountain chains which are linear in nature.


    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  7. #7
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    But, did either of you feel physically threatened. Guess, avoid the cities. Cluj has about 100,000 I think. Cluj is our primary destination for Romania. Also, Will be staying in some country towns outside Cluj, then we leave for Prague. The roads are pretty rough in Romania, seems I read. My touring bikes' tires are 38 MM. Probably the wiser bike to take. Wonder if our bikes will be safe with an average bike lock.

  8. #8
    Numbler Cornchops's Avatar
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    We rode from Bratislava, Slovakia, to Budapest, Hungary, this summer. We were on the Danube Cycle path most of the way, it was great. The stretch from Estergom to Szentendre was one of our favorites of the trip.

    Budapest was also great; a wonderful city to ride around in--very bike-friendly.

    I don't really know about Romania, except for this: We stayed one night in Komarno, Slovakia, and mentioned to our host that our previous accommodations had no hot water. His response: "Where were you last night, Romania?"

    Have fun!

  9. #9
    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    Woooahh! From what I am reading, Romania sounds poverty striken and dangerous! I have been living here in Urziceni for about 4 months, and I have traveled around quite a bit in the south. Yes, Romania is a developing country, but I have never felt any danger coming from the locals. There are some homeless people and beggars, but frankly, the situation is much more severe in the US, in my opinion. Small towns will usually always have a store with supplies, and there are usually small bike shops because bikes are an important way of transportation here. Yes the currency can be confusing at first because they use both the old and new together, but I have found shopkeepers and merchants to be very honest. So, yes Romania would be a great place to tour; I'll find out next week. I just hope that the winter doesn't blow down to hard into transylvannia!

  10. #10
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    I never felt physically threatened in Romania. It was more like annoyances, really. For example, some enterprising gentleman may provide unasked and unneeded "tourist services" (such as escorting you to the correct train platform or hailing a cab) and expect you to pay his "commission." Romania has a highly active subculture of scams. The Lonely Planet travel guide to Romania offers descriptions of some of the favorite tricks Romanian scam artists like to pull on tourists. I found this to be helpful in knowing what to watch out for.

    Now, the last thing I want to do is leave you with the impression that Romania is a dangerous place that preys on tourists. Far from it. All countries have their problems with petty crime such as opportunistic theft and pickpockets, but I sensed a higher threat in Romania than I have anywhere else. (Having said that, the only time I've actually been a victim was in France, but that was partly due to a momentary lack of diligence on my part.) Exercising due caution and using your traveler's instinct should minimize most risks. By and large, I found the Romanians to be helpful, courteous and friendly (not to mention the legions of absolutely gorgeous women). I would not hesitate to return and in fact, I may just do that for a bike tour at some point myself.

    I was in Cluj for only a short while, but it left me with a lively impression. It's in a largely Hungarian ethnic region of Romania so much of what is there may seem more related to Hungary than Romania.

    I would definitely carry a bike lock in Romania, just as I would for anywhere else. I'm not sure what you mean by "average bike lock", but I personally wouldn't carry anything less than a U-lock. Even then, I would try to keep my bike in secure locations and not leave it for long periods of time.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  11. #11
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    So no one thinks Hungary to be much of a problem in terms of security issues. appreciate the great advice. We leave the third week of May. A little over two weeks in three counties.

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    I had absolutely no security discomfort in Hungary. As always, simply exercise proper caution and avoid unpleasant places or situations.

    However, in Budapest be aware of this neat little scam where a pair of attractive young women may try to entice men (usually traveling alone) to join them at a club. Once there, one of two things are likely to happen:
    1) The women are paid by the club to get you there. Once there, the women will encourage you to keep buying them and yourself drinks, which are outrageously overpriced.
    2) Once in the club with the girls, two of their muscular male friends will just happen to show up and join you. Eventually as your cash runs low, they will offer to "escort" you to the local ATM to get more, and make it hard to say no.

    I was approached on the street no less than six times one evening by different pairs of very attractive young ladies looking for someone to take them to a party at a club. I politely declined them all. Either I was a target for this scam or I missed out on one helluva weekend.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  13. #13
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    purple . Not doing any club hopping. GOing there with my wife to do some riding and sightseeing.

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Crazy guy on a bike in Hungary and Romania
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...oc_id=665&v=1j

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    great lead thanks gerv.

  16. #16
    Dead Men Assume...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornchops
    We rode from Bratislava, Slovakia, to Budapest, Hungary, this summer. We were on the Danube Cycle path most of the way, it was great. The stretch from Estergom to Szentendre was one of our favorites of the trip.

    Budapest was also great; a wonderful city to ride around in--very bike-friendly.
    I took that path well over a decade ago and it was excellent. I hope that they've marked the route a bit better since, though, and the only really difficult part was getting out of Bratislava. I had to haul my entire rig onto the pedestrian overpass to cross the highway from Vienna.

  17. #17
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Hungary and Rommania are wonderfull cycling destinations.

    You can pick up a cycle touring map for Hungary at a tourist Kioske in Budapest. It's not the greatest map, but gives nice tidbits of info, as well as pretty descent routes along secondary roads. You'll still need regular maps.

    I've pepper sprayed 3 dogs so far this trip 1 in France, 1 in Rommania, and 1 in Tibet.

    The one I sprayed in Rommania was a complete surprise-outside Brasov headed NE towards Moldova/Ukraine. I hadn't had any troubles with other dogs (in Rommania) this trip-mind I didn't visit Bucharest. Quite a few nasty ones there as I recall from my last trip.

    No troubles with scams etc in either Hungary or Rommania. Scams exist wherever tourists go.

    ~Cheers from Luang Prabang Laos!~

  18. #18
    Junior Member
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    Hi,

    I'm hungarian and have cycled only in Hungary. (And a few days in Austria and Slovakia.)
    I adore it.

    Ági

  19. #19
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    Hello, I just got back from a non-cycling tour of Transylvania (3 days) and Budapest (1 week). Although I didn't ride them personally, the roads looked pretty good and there were locals riding old bikes (and walking!) along some of the highways in between towns in Transylvania.

    I visited Brasov, Bran, Sinaia, Sibiu, and Sigisoara and I can say that I was totally comfortable the entire time as far as safety was concerned, including some pretty late night walking about Brasov and Sigisoara. I was followed by a few stray dogs (who seemed quite nice, although I didn't try to test this theory!) but that was the worst that happened. Haha, my friend and I did get some strange stares from locals though. I don't remember the beggars to have been any worse than most of the other places I visited (many, many places in E. and W. Europe) on my trip.

    Stores were readily available in these towns and prices were pretty cheap. Also, Romanian is a Latin-based language so if you have any knowledge of other Latin-based languages (i.e. Spanish, Italian, French) than many words are easily understood. The Romanian Lei, for me at least, was pretty hassle free (and cool looking), except for the fact that I could get NO money out from Romanian ATMs (I didn't have this problem in any other country)!! Luckily my friend was there to bail me out.

    Budapest is an awesome city and has its fair share of bikers. The Danube path looked really nice and although everybody I talked to said that Budapest was a dangerous city for bikes, it seemed no worse than any other big city. There are a good number of bike paths and enough bikers to where the drivers have some awareness of bikes. And I saw about 3 million bike messengers riding around the city in a crazy manner! Hope this was at least a bit helpful!

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