This one word began to epitomize the bike trip as our guide reviewed our itinerary each day. Each railway, major intersection and milestone was emphasized with this warning. Mark, Nicola and I began to humourously warn each other at every opportunity. But thanks to Tony's careful information and the regional map, we never did get lost.
The main part of the journey to Hortobagy was along the Goose-way. Atttention!
- This road was fairly bumpy, so we were, of course, reminded to bike cautiously. This was one of the most beautiful and varied routes we encountered and there were no cars, only the occasional farm vehicle.
In the village of Hortobagy, we went to the free museum and saw the gypsy crafts. Then we went for a fantastic tour of the Hortobagy National Park animals and horsemen. We had no idea what to expect, not having read any material about it.
Everyone was loaded into horse-drawn carriages, segregated by language. Two of the stops were demonstrations of traditional horseman skills with Nonius horses. The most incredible part was when a cowboy stands on two horses holding the reigns of five. Somehow he manages to control them without falling as they run faster and faster. I even was even allowed to ride one of the horses for a few minutes (no saddle).
The most fascinating animals were the water buffalo. They are really happy just lounging away in the muddy water. We also saw Raczka Sheep with spiral horns, Grey Cattle and oxen. The sheep are kept in traditional barns, where the roof goes nearly to the ground. This style is meant to prevent having the barn get damaged during strong winds.
For lunch, I endulged in the Hortobagy traditional pancakes - they are crepe-like, filled with meat, and covered in sauce. Quite good. I also couldn't resist ordering the strawberry soup with cake croutons and whip cream - liquid dessert!
Full as can be, we biked along country roads to Nadudvar, where we spent some time at its thermal spa. It felt great to take a dip in the cool water pool, before people-watching in the warmer ones. I was always impressed that these pools act as community meeting places - people of all ages, shapes and sizes. A nation of water babies.