(Guidebook says 22.2km -13.8 miles but we walked 21.5km – 13.4miles)
We are very happy that we made the decision to stay in a different accommodation last night, even though we had a slight problem with ants. Once we happened upon the other walkers and heard about the noise and general madness of their experience at the GöNa summer camp, we knew that Jenny had saved us. Apparently, the summer camp kids had a disco until 10pm and then the counselors stayed up to party all night long after. One of the other walkers said that things got so rowdy and out of control that she was actually afraid to go out of her cabin to use the restroom.
Thanks to our villa decision, we were also able to solve the money problem as late in the evening the son of our villa owner popped in and offered to drive Gary 20 km to Lenti to the nearest ATM. It’s insane to think that we have walked through so many villages, but there has been no bank to get cash since leaving Sopron. I had already gone into survival mode and had begun gathering all the ripe fruit I could find on the property just in case we had an entire day with no money. We would’ve been fine on apples, grapes and plums, but it’s such a relief to have funds again. At times the EPW experience can feel a bit like an episode of Amazing Race. So many people have run completely out of money and they end up borrowing, bartering, etc. whatever they can do to solve their problems. This, I’ll admit, has been interesting to watch. Some people get really creative with ideas, and seem to remain relaxed about it all. I’ve found that it’s not so entertaining when I’m the one trying to solve the problem. I definitely don’t stay relaxed about it. Sheer anxiety and panic would much better describe my response to running out of money. Something to work on in the future perhaps.
Our morning started peacefully with a lovely bowl of yogurt with granola and peaches. The best breakfast that we’ve had yet and we bought it and made it ourselves. As we started walking, we try to get ourselves mentally prepared for the 20km to 23km day, (it’s so hard to know the actual distance with varying reports coming up everywhere).
The days walking is a mixture of fields, forests, logging roads, and paved road through small villages with only houses. The highlight being the first completely open field of sunflowers we’ve seen. I’ve been waiting for this since we began!
As we walk along each day, I continue to say, “café con leche por favor” and picture myself walking into a Spanish coffee bar to have coffee, tortilla, and a napolitana…but alas, I remember, this is not the Camino. Finally, we get to the very last village and first we happen upon a tiny little store that is clean and lovely with a great selection of goodies and a wonderful welcoming woman who owns it! She waves and smiles saying “Hello” over and over as you leave, which is fantastic! And, as if that wasn’t good enough, just around the corner we find a pub which is surprisingly open at 9am and serving cappuccinos. With our orange juice and pastries we purchased from the woman’s shop and now cappuccino, we will have the perfect breakfast for the second time in one day! We are making up for lost breakfasts today!
This is actually the first cappuccino we have had since beginning this walk. Seven days of walking 18 to 27km each day with no freaking coffee. I’m surprised that I haven’t just quit and said to heck with it for that reason alone. Never mind the rashes, the blisters, the general stupidity of the whole thing.
We have gotten a pretty good system down now that it’s day seven. While marching along for miles each day, I write the events and take photos while Gary films short videos of each section during the day with the GoPro. We always begin navigating via the red arrows but revert to Google maps when the arrows are nowhere to be found.
Today is also the first day that we have happened upon any other walkers. At about the halfway mark for the day, we came across Carlos, Kim and Robert and were able to talk a bit, get lost together once, and take some photos. (I love how they are all going in the opposite direction of all the arrows in this pic. I took this when we got lost!) It was very nice to have a photo of a different backside than Gary’s! We were also able to sit at the pub and chat over cappuccinos for a little while and this truly felt like a Camino moment. When it was time for us to part ways, Carlos, a fellow pilgrim who has completed the Camino many times, bid us farewell with, “Buen Camino.” My heart melted in that moment.
After walking out of the village and into the farm fields, we found arrows directing us through a corn field. Not next to, or along the side of, but straight through it. The corn was taller than I was and it felt awful to be sandwiched in the middle of it with no space and not even be able to see out. The corn field was huge and seemed to go on forever. As the leaves of each plant slapped me in the face, I was praying they hadn’t been treated with anything toxic. I’ve already got one kind of itchy rash on my legs, another painful one on my entire body, basically wherever my clothing or backpack touches me, and something horrible happening in my nether regions. I’m not sure what else could come up at this point, but it sure feels like this isn’t the greatest idea.
We’ve seen fields of corn everywhere and yet, have never been served anything with corn in it. When we asked why it’s grown everywhere, but not eaten, we were told that it’s only good to feed to the chickens, pigs and cows. So, the bumper crop of the United States, the thing we somehow manage to put into everything we eat, is only good enough for the livestock in Hungary. When you consider that Hungary is a very poor country, but see that they still maintain this standard for themselves and their own nutrition, I think shame on us. But honestly, the more time I spend in other countries, the more I find myself thinking this about various things. As Americans, we really tend to think that we know so much, but we have so much to learn from other countries. I also love the fact that they grow the corn to feed their animals themselves. It’s just what’s done. In the U.S., if you have chickens, you make a trip to the feed store once a month to buy a giant bag of cracked corn. The thought of actually growing and drying it yourself is just no longer something we fathom. Why on earth would we do that when it’s so easy and cheap to buy? Never mind that we don’t really know what’s in it. That we’ve presumably gotten the chickens so that we can ensure we have healthy eggs to eat, and then don’t give very much thought to the integrity of what we’re feeding the chickens who make the eggs. I’ve done this. I’m completely guilty here, and now I’m just shaking my head at how silly I was. Thanks to traveling, I have a different perspective now, and the next time I have chickens, I will grow their food myself.
At some point today, we walked through a portion of Slovenia and then back into Hungary. We thought there would be signs, possibly a border crossing to make it noticeable, a nice spot to take a photo, or just anything, but there was absolutely nothing. We honestly don’t even know when it happened. We’ve been back and forth through Hungary and Austria so many times that I’ve now lost count, but there’s no checkpoints for these either. We’ve unknowingly walked from one country into the next and only figured it out when the greeting from passersby is changed from “Jó napot” to “Guten morgen.”
It’s so surreal to see these war torn, poverty stricken countries living so openly and peacefully with their neighbors, while our government is focused upon building walls between us and our neighbors. It’s just another of many steps backwards with this administration, I just hope and pray we don’t have to endure war as these people have, in order to gain our forward progress back.
We arrive at our accommodation by noon! Another day of walking 24km easily completed in 6 hours time, we are getting faster! Our motivation for today was climbing into the thermal baths that are available at our hotel in Lenti. Tonight we will be, “Spas Baden” (Fun Bathing) our aches away!
EPW Suggested Accommodation:
There was a booking conflict and we were all moved next door to:
Single room 30 Euro
Double room 25 Euro Each
2 Euro for Breakfast
Thermal baths entry huf 2,800 per person
Dinners available next door at Hotel Dennis Restaurant for menu prices (Great Food!)
There is an OptBank ATM in Lenti Town Center (Only gives HUF, but you can exchange for Euro or Kuna inside)
Some favorite pics from today: