The Danube Bend is one of our favourite areas in Hungary. Stunning nature, full of history and culture, close to Budapest, but a very different experience. Most bus tours visit the right bank of the river, Esztergom and Visegrád. Although we agree that the Castle of Visegrád and the Cathedral of Esztergom are worth a visit, we much prefer the other side of the Danube.
Hungary is a landlocked country, but we have many lakes and rivers, and people enjoy living by the water. During the summer month the Danube Bend is so full of life, as it's perfect for canoe tours, bike rides and hiking as well. The villages have beaches where you can swim and sunbathe, but for the best experience join our canoe trips and swim at hidden beaches immersed in nature and on tiny sand reefs in the middle of the Danube. For us this Saturday was not about swimming or paddling, but for some people it does not make a difference if it's summer or winter. When we were taking photos of the Castle of Visegrád in Nagymaros, we just bumped into our friends who provide the canoes for the tours we run during the warmer months of the year. They were just putting their canoe on the river, throwing in some comfortable pillows and the fishing rods. The freezing weather did not stop them from spending hours in a small branch of the Danube.
We were just talking to them when a man in swimming trunks walked by, a local who goes swimming every single day, even in the icy river. Very impressive! The only time I jumped into frosty water was in Canada, when I worked as a glacier guide in the Rocky Mountains. We were having fun in a sauna in the middle of the forest and jumped into the natural pool full with the melting water of the glacier. Quick dip and rushed back into the sauna. But this man just got out of the river and walked home, while we were standing there in four layers of warm clothes. Our friends said, there is no winter in Nagymaros, and they were right. The promenade along the river was full of people taking an afternoon walk or standing outside our favourite bar with a cup of hot spicy wine.
After a walk and some playground time in Nagymaros, we drove over to Zebegény. We stopped by at the pastry shop to pick up some cakes and some hot wine for me, as Attila was driving. We walked along the river and found a magical, frozen world, with thousands of icicles hanging from the trees and bushes above the water.
Later we went down to the beach where we spend hours swimming and relaxing during our canoe tours in the summer. The sun was just going down behind the hills on the other side of the river, so the Danube turned beautifully orange, together with the peacefully floating ice.