The Home Stretch

June 1st : I’ve been travelling for nearly two months, I’ll be heading home in a fortnight, and after a wait of 3 years there’s Glastonbury to look forward to! I’m back in Slovakia – staying in Komárno, a city that straddles the Danube and becomes Komárom on the southern, Hungarian side.

June 8th : I cycle 48km along the Danube on my Dutch bike covered in flowers. Fail to get said bike into lift of Hungarian tower block where I am staying the night. Record phone interview for BBC Newsbeat and Zoom interview for the 6 o’clock news. Yay, fame at last! Also realise my hair needs re-dyeing asap.

June 10th : Mission accomplished: Budapest I greet you, you greet me, we all greet each other! After two months and 1300 km, with the help of six dresses and a floral, fairy-lighted, horrendously heavy bike WE MADE IT!!

June 12th : Three more days in Budapest and I’m packing in the sights. I’ve done the baths, ruin bars, castle area and Hospital in the Rock and am planning more …

June 15th : Miraculous benefit of spending 3 hours a day in blazing sunshine: it provides enough vitamin D to make my flaky soft nails into tough talons that never break.

June 16th : Start of the long journey home: two and a half days, four trains, a cycle ride and a ferry. Getting Grazel on and off the train, and worrying about her whilst she’s left alone, proves very stressful. Have a lovely conversation with a woman who turns out to be part of an anti-abortion organisation, and then have access to plug socket blocked by a manspreader who snores like an angry rhinoceros.

On the train you don’t get any sense of the distance you’re covering or the small villages en route. The railway runs along the Danube for quite a while in Germany and I remember cycling on the opposite bank. When we peel away for the last time I feel quite emotional – I’ll miss you Donau, Dunaj, Duna.

June 17th : At 5am I realise I’m not looking for a direct train from Halle to Amsterdam, but have to change in Hannover. Disaster of searching for the wrong train averted. How do people travel so early though? Think I’ll have to eat three consecutive breakfasts to survive. Take selfie outside Driehuis station to compare myself now with when I arrived. Hair faded, face browner, sunglasses not anorak and smile instead of nervous grimace. Oh, but my nails have started to break again.

June 18 th : Safe back home. Have got my eyebrows tinted and my nails done, re-dyed my hair and watched three episodes of Love Island. Priorities.

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