Bike Ride in Autumn

Thanks to my neighbors, who kindly agreed to feed my cats while I am gone, I set out tomorrow for Sárospatak by bike! I expect to get to Tiszafüred by tomorrow evening, to Tokaj by Tuesday evening, and to Sárospatak, then Vajdácska, by midday or mid-afternoon on Wednesday. Then on Thursday I take the train back. I have the bed-and-breakfast reservations all set up, and the weather should be good. The total distance is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) or a little more.

I have been looking forward to this for months. It’s easier to bike long distances in the fall than in the spring or summer, because you can wear long sleeves and avoid sunburn. Zsolt André at Sprint Kerékpár gave my bike a tuneup last week, so everything’s good to go. There’s plenty of flexibility, too; I can change plans at any point if necessary. I chose weekdays because businesses are open–so if for any reason I need to find a bike store, or want to pop into a bookstore, I can do so. (There’s actually a bookstore in Sátoraljaúljhely that I hope to visit on Thursday morning.)

We’re on fall break this whole week, so I’ll still have a few days at home upon returning to Szolnok. That will give me time to translate two poems, finish preparing the autumn issue of Folyosó (it’s almost ready), and rest.

Two of the three legs of the trip are already familiar: from Szolnok to Tiszafüred, and from Tokaj to Sárospatak. It’s just the middle stretch that will be new to me, but most of it is bike path. (On the map above, which was created by a user through Google Maps, the blue parts are bike path, and the red are regular roads (but quiet, easily bikeable ones).

I will add pictures to this post as I go along (maybe at the end of each day).

Day 1: foggy, quiet, autumnal. Except for falling off the bike while still in Szolnok (I turned onto a bike path and hit a slippery spot), I had a terrific day. Lake Tisza has a bike path (recently completed) all the way around it; I took the long way around to Tiszafüred. Along the way: a giant chess set, swans, foliage, bridges. People fishing, camping. In the late afternoon, I arrived at the bed-and-breakfast, the Piros Bicikli Vendégház (Red Bicycle Guesthouse), which I chose on account of its name.

Day 2: made it to Tokaj, biked under the moon, spoke with a shepherd, saw many flocks of geese in the sky. There’s much more to say, but I need sleep

Day 3: a leisurely morning in Tokaj, to be followed by a relatively short (and familiar) ride to Sárospatak, then Vajdácska. A fuller story of this bike trip will come later, in a separate post, after I return home. For now: this has been great.

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  1. Andrew James Chandler

     /  October 25, 2020

    Have a good ride, Diana! I’ll be reading your blog with interest!

  2. I am very impressed. We know that area fairly well because we have a vineyard between Olaszliszka and Erdobennye. Will you visit the Synagogue in Mad. There are also graves of “miracle” rabbis in Olaszliszka and Satoraljaujhely. The protestant college in Saroapatak is also very nice.

    • I am impressed that you have a vineyard in the area! What kind of wine do you make?

      I don’t know whether I’ll make it to Mád, but definitely Olaszliszka and Sátoraljaújhely. The former I have bicycled through twice; the latter I have visited three times. I love Sárospatak too.

      • It is in Tokaj, so one is limited in what is planted. Ours is about 50:50 harslevelu and furmint. When conditions are right we can have asszu. We now rent our grapes to a local producer and get wine in return to drink. Not that we can even finish what we have in our lifetimes, but maybe our daughter can.

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  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In February 2022, Deep Vellum will publish her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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