Archive for the ‘Slovakia’ Category

Hungary

15 August 2010

We have changed countries twice in two days and are now in Hungary. Today’s route along the Donauradweg took us out of range of almost all of our fellow radlers. They were nowhere to be seen. The quality of the path deteriorated into a gravel two wheel track on top of the dike with many car barriers that are designed for bikes to cross, but slow progress quite a lot. Signage was nonexistent so our map and Garmin were essential. The water level in the river is metres higher than the villages nearby.

We needed to find breakfast so ventured into the village of Baka. It met almost all criteria of the stereotyped Eastern European small town with roads in poor shape, drab buildings, single shop with limited range of goods. We bought a few things and then went on to neighbouring larger town, Gabcikovo, where the bars and cafes were just opening (9am on Sunday). The bar we stopped at served us coffee, and quickly acquired a crowd of regular customers who got started on beer. These blokes all arrived on bicycles – Ian reckons they all lost their licences.

Free WiFi was available (good for a family Skype call). WiFi is fairly easy to find. The long ride along the dike on the bad bike path inspired a singing session. We got through a good selection of songs from the AUAS and NFBM repertoires with a few assorted old faves. Lunch in Komarno, nice city with interesting centre and history (we take the just-in-time approach and look up Wikipedia). Then across the river and into Hungary. A thunderstorm was brewing and we sheltered in a bus stop with a Hungarian woman while it rained and hailed.

On the road in Hungary under thundery skies

Then we stayed on the road all the way to Ezstergom. Interesting sights: piles of watermelons for sale by the roadside (sorry no photo); muddy torrents resulting from rainstorm; more of those manly bars serving beer (we stopped at one and found out that forints, not euros, are the currency here); beautiful city of Ezstergom which we will explore tomorrow.

View of the Danube from the Esztergom basilica

Cycle route:
Samorin – Gabčikovo
Gabčikovo – Esztergom

Slovakia

15 August 2010

It took us ages to extricate ourselves from Vienna which we did by taking the industrial tour, and then receiving assistance from a woman, aged probably in her 70s, who led us to the Donauradweg. The bicycle path took us past an area that’s popular for Viennese nudists who were stripping off to lie in the sun. Then along a long dike with forest on both sides. Our last Austrian town was Hainburg with Roman ruins and fort on the hill top. We could see Bratislava in the distance and crossed into Slovakia past the now disused border post.

Outpost on hill overlooking Hainburg

So we have arrived in eastern Europe. It is a distinctively different place from its neighbour. There was not time to become closely acquainted with Bratislava, but we stopped for a drink in the central mall and then began another gritty tour through high rise suburbs, then low rise outskirts and countryside that featured chemical factories, bad roads and dumped rubbish.

Bratislava street

Eventually we made our way back to the Donau, now a vast expanse with wetlands and recreational beaches, people fishing, roller blading, cycling and picnicking. We had to find a place to stay so left the path to go into the town of Samorin.

It has many blocks of flats, the old town centre a little neglected and lacking the charm that we are accustomed to. There were no tourist facilities or accommodation at all, so we returned to the river which does have these things. Our pension in Cilistov was comfortable and we dined at the Hotel Kormoran. This area is called the Riviera.

Cycle route:
Wien – Samorin