Day 253

Austrian Danube image from World Walks (see below for link)

Matt Gross, the New York Times “Frugal Travel” writer, set out to walk 180 miles from Vienna to Budapest in March of this year. His plan was to follow in the footsteps of 18-year-old Englishman Patrick Leigh Fermor, who in 1933 set out from London on a German-bound ship intending to walk 1,400 miles from Rotterdam to Istanbul. Fermor wrote two apparently-classic books about his yearlong adventures — A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods — and at 95

Matt's route from Vienna to Budapest

is called, according to Gross, “Britain’s greatest living travel writer.

I’m not exactly sure how Fermor described the inevitable side-tracks and travails that make traveling and travel writing occasionally risky, often tedious, and a failsafe inspiration for great personal revelations and cultural discoveries. But I do know how Gross made out, because he wrote about his two-week adventure in the New York Times, in which he said…

My ankles were swollen but not too painful, and throughout the morning I enjoyed the scenery: the small mountains through which the Danube snaked before turning due south. But after three hours, I noticed, my ankles had become lightning rods of agony. I arrived in Visegrad in midafternoon and pitched my tent (for the first time) at a roadside campground, knowing that tomorrow, after visiting Visegrad’s mountaintop castle, where Hungary’s royal crown had once been sheltered, I’d board a bus for Budapest.

You can read the rest of his piece here. And rest assured that when I visit Prague, Vienna, and Budapest at the end of this month I’ll be seeing the cities on foot, by bike and — if my daughter has her way — on roller blades.  I might even check out a walking tour put together by World Walks. But I will not most definitively be taking a plane, train, and a hydrofoil boat on the Danube, to go from city-to-city.

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