After a tedious train ride to Esztergom we had finally reached the river Danube, separating Hungary from Slovakia. Over a thousand years ago, this was the capital of Hungary.

We made our way through the town to a nearby hilltop, where both a castle and a large basilica overlook the river. The basilica is impossible to miss, being the largest church in Hungary.

Esztergom basilica Talking a short rest before ascending the hill to Esztergom basilica.

Below the basilica is a crypt with several tombs. The damp underground chamber provided a welcome respite from the heat.

Behind the basilica is a large stone wall with great views. I passed the white statue of Szent István and looked down upon the glimmering Danube. Or rather, the Mária Valéria bridge connecting the two countries. Since its opening in 1895, the bridge has been destroyed twice. The latest incarnation was opened twenty years ago.

The allure of exploration is irresistible and an hour later we were walking across the bridge into Slovakia.

Mária Valéria bridge Mária Valéria bridge.

The Slovakian border town of Štúrovo may not be the most exciting sight, but it was fun to walk around. We passed a few closed shops and the statue of Ján III. Sobieski before finally finding an open place, where we sat down for an ice-cold pint of Zlatý Bažant.


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