Saturday, May 09, 2009

Postcard from Hungary

During the atrocities of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 more and more Hungarians fled to the western world over the border to Austria. Even though it was just a small wooden bridge over a small river, the Bridge at Andau was the escape route for about 70,000 Hungarian refugees.

The 9 km "Road to Freedom" is lined at regular intervals with sculptures
in tree stumps depicting the escape of the Hungarian refugees

After crossing the border, fugitives had to walk a 9km long road, the "Road To Freedom", to the village of Andau, where they were received with great hospitality by the inhabitants there and the surrounding villages. On November 21, 1956, the bridge was blasted by Soviet troops, putting an end to the escape route. The bridge was reconstructed as a memorial in 1996.

Maalie on the Andau Bridge, at the Autria/Hungary border,
Hungary in
the background

On 16th May I hired a bicycle in the small Burgenland town of Illmitz and cycled the 30km to the Andau Bridge. The bike was a "Kettler" hybrid road bike with a 7-speed Shimano gear box in the rear wheel hub, very similar to that of my Giant Escape, so I felt at home. The 70 odd km I cycled that day was more than I had accomplished in a single day since my teenage years, and I confess to a little saddle-soreness during the evening. However, the ride was well worth the effort, not only because of the historical context, but also because I was able to see a flock of Great Bustards in the nature reserve that runs alongside the Road to Freedom.

For just 10 Euros for my 28-hour rental period, I considered it great value.

Detail of the Kettler bicycle hired in Illmitz
for just 10 Euros for a day-and-a-bit.

(Posted by: Maalie)

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At 11:47 pm, May 30, 2009, Blogger simon said...

Brilliant yet again!

70 k is a good ride mate and I doubt i could could do it. Might be worth a trip to try it myself!


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