The first in Ukraine international bicycle pilgrimage started on 5 October from Transcarpathia and lasted two days. It was organized in the frame of the ENPI CBC Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine 2007-2013 financed project.
The cyclists travelled from Berehovo to Mariapocs (Hungary), a shrine which is well known all over Europe. This idea belonged to Jozsef Torpoi, director of Ukrainian-Hungarian Regional Development Centre.
The international bicycle trip was available to everyone who had valid international passport with a visa and light-reflecting clothes.
“The trip appeared to be a bit longer than we expected, 160 kilometers in all”, said Jozsef Torpoi. “However all of us fearlessly passed this “challenge”. I’m glad to note that 20 enthusiasts from Transcarpathia, namely from Uzhgorod, Berehovo and Imstychiv, took part in the trip. Later a few cyclists from Solotvino joined us. But they had to treadle a bit longer”. The pilgrimage was also joined by Alexander Stemp, British traveler, who had presented his guide-book “The Ukraine Carpathians: Europe’s last great wilderness” to the public in Berehovo a day before the trip.
By the way, the youngest cyclist of the tour barely was 9 years old, while the oldest was more than 70 years old.
The first stop was made in the Hungarian village Beregsurany near the border. Here in the local museum one can park his bicycle, have a rest and take a walk through the surroundings.
Next “checkpoint” was in Vasarosnameny, where the cyclists also visited a museum in Tomcsanyi palace. The palace has a number of permanently working exhibits including an archeological one. Lunch time was spent in Vaja village in a XVI century building, which hosts a museum nowadays.
As far as that wasn’t a sports trip, the group made stops for resting after every 4-7 km. Everyone remembered a church in Ofeherto village which is an XI century old building with frescos painted in ХІІІ-ХІV centuries. There’s a possibility that the same artist painted walls of Goriany Rotunda, the oldest shrine of Transcarpathia.
And finally we came to Mariapocs, a well-known shrine. It became popular in 1696 due to the myrrh-pouring Our Lady icon. Building of church was started by Vasylyansly monk George Gennedif for his own money and was finished in 1756. Its two main belfries were erected in 1856.
“It was interesting to meet a lot of pilgrims from Transcarpathia who came there by bus”, said Jozsef Torpoi. “They came there to attend an all night long sacred service”.
Our bicycle pilgrims read short prayers and accommodated themselves in special guest rooms. They had to recondition themselves and prepare for a trip back home on a next day.
“I’d like to emphasize that our first bicycle trip to historic places and shrines was successful”, said Jozsef Torpoi. “We were also followed by experienced Hungarian cyclists and a minibus. Those who got tired always had a possibility to have a short rest. On the whole everyone got great positive impressions”.
Next year similar bicycle pilgrim trips are planned to be made to Romania and Slovakia. Bicycle is appropriate for travelling from May to October. It’s possible that such kind of bicycle tour will be also made through Transcarpathian monasteries. The only difficulty in doing that is local roads which are not always adapted for cycling.