Seems like we’ve spent more time in hotels and doing our tourist thing lately so it’s been a bit of a rude shock actually putting in some miles on the bikes in the last three days. We had three nights in Vienna, followed by a one day ride to Bratislava, then two more nights in a hotel, then on the road and back in our tents again for two nights.
Well, if that was Slovakia, we’ve been there and done it – didn’t get any postcards, either. We buzzed in and buzzed out but had a great stay there, plus ate royally, leaving the country right after our day of rest. Getting to Bratislava was a 90 km ride and it was our first taste of riding over the lumpy, bumpy, Bike Friday eating pot-holed sidewalks and roads of this very European city. We were delighted with dinner our first night there (an excellent Italian restaurant!), but the bill was so high I took a photo of it for posterity. Next night we thought we’d just have a small, quiet meal at our hotel. What a surprise. Only six of us in the restaurant that night where they had a truly extensive menu, and I figured for sure that just about anything except the meat loaf would be unavailable. Was I ever surprised! I had a cold avocado and curry soup, followed by pork medallions with fennel and roasted vegetables, and then crepe suzette. The other five had equally varied meals meals and all got exactly what they wanted and cooked perfectly with really fine table service. Call us humbled but thrilled.The hotel was terrific but in a very strange neighbourhood, very depressed seeming, and part of our adventure was learning to use the ancient tram that took us downtown from our hotel. This was the first place we actually went inside and visited a museum – the Clock Museum, where we met a lovely, humorous lady who was running the place who laughed a lot at almost anything we odd tourists said or did.
Next day we crossed the Donau again and went into Hungary – a 91 Km day to Gyor, with about 50 Kms of it along a dead straight raised dike along the Donau, bucking head winds all the way. It was Canada Day and I had packed along some tiny tooth-pick Canada flags for our cook to stick into whatever he was making either for lunch or dinner. The bag of picks was put out on a table at dinner but very few people “partook” of them, but the Canadian contingent managed to stand up and make it all the way through a sort of rousing rendition of Oh Canada! after dinner. Gave some clue as to our national personality, though, when there were various cries for “drop the puck” or “Let’s Play!” as soon as it ended, though……….’ 🙂
The next day was 108 Kms to Esztergom and it was a very hard day. Head winds again, and VERY hot – about 35 – 37 degrees I hear. Also, I had bike trouble, losing the low gears just as we arrived at our first hilly section in days. Bruce had a few choice words to say about it that I couldn’t repeat to Dean, the van driver, when he stopped to help and asked what the problem was. Told him Bruce would have to describe it in his vernacular. Anyway, the upshot was that they exchanged Bruce’s rear wheel (with the hub with the gears in it) on to my bike, so I was able to do the hills (don’t know who thought of that brilliant idea – I thought I’d just gained myself a ride to the top of the hills in the van), and Bruce is now using my wheel and hub with the limited range of gears. There was a beautiful SWIMMING POOL at the campsite we stayed at that night! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! First one on this trip and exactly the right day on which to find it!
Yesterday was a 75 Km ride into Budapest and I had a great day riding! Must be osmosis from having Bruce’s wheel on my bike – it just wanted to go like stink! Bruce himself took a bit of a detour. He left us at the start of the ride, and we didn’t see him again until lunch time when he came riding in from the opposite direction in which the rest of us were heading. He’d taken to the hills and stopped for a breakfast of kolbasa and pickles and stuff en route before re-joining us. (Glad it wasn’t the day before when I was having trouble with the bike!) Anyway, it was a bit of a rude shock on arrival in Budapest – it’s massive and busy and we came in as a convoy – we’d never have found our way in without a leader. Just think about bringing a convoy of about 25 cyclists through the heart of the city of London, or something like that! Glad to reach the hotel because it was again stinking hot, but a gin and tonic helped with revival, and then a wonderful meal at a Hungarian restaurant near the river
Today we have the first of two (more!) rest days in Budapest, and so today we did a City Tour with a hop on-hop off bus, but boy did it ever get cold! Half way through the afternoon we were huddled in blankets on the bus – go figure after yesterday’s excessive heat! We had “lunch” at an incredibly posh, (read expensive) restaurant where we shared one appetizer of three different foie gras and one apple strudel and two coffees and it set us back 35 Euros! Yikes! Well, I had to have foie gras somewhere and now I’ve done it.
Serious rides start to happen after this – I’ve looked ahead in our booklet and I’m scared! We’ve got some long days ahead, with things like 145 and 150 Kms back to back and the most I’ve ever ridden in one day is 108. Hmmmmmmmmm…………………….
Claire and Karen – lovely to hear from you! Stay tuned!
posted Wednesday July 2007