Down the Danube to Budapest

8 09 2012

After experiencing what was the most exhilarating thunder and lightning storm- complete with heavy rain- throughout the night, it interrupted our Friday night film (Sherlock Holmes 2) to such an extent that we couldn’t hear the headphones and had to abort we awoke wondered what would be of our tent…It did us proud and held up well in all the rain and wind. Jimi did get up in the middle of the night though to re-peg and tighten all the guide ropes. Reluctantly we crawled out of our tent and braced the now bleak weather, had breakfast in the shower block and crossed the lake by ferry at a not so early 12 o clock. After only 7km in heavy rain we stopped in a shelter, put the kettle on and sat listening to a podcast hoping the rain would pass. An hour later and it was still the same so we decided the only way to make any headway today would be to get the train to our next destination 58km away. (Honestly it had nothing at all to do with the hills that stood in our way across the border into Austria…”I love hills, I love hills, I love hills”). We cycled up a very steep hill and were greeted by a breath-taking view of Austria from high up, the downhill to the station was not so fun though with rain scratching our pretty faces.

It was a lovely train journey and some other cycle tourers had the same idea as us and got on the train and explained they were going to a lovely hotel in Linz, “oooh lovely” I said, with a pang of jealousy as I knew we would be pitching the tent in the pouring rain and settling in for the night damp and cold. They recommended the Linz Torte as a delicious treat only made in Linz. We should have known not to trust them as they were hotelling and obviously not on a budget like us as Jimi found out when he came to pay and realised he’d just spent a whole weeks food budget on the delicacy! So that night we had our dinner and wine in the changing rooms at the campsite and dried out our clothes in the shower room. Rain again the next day didn’t stop us cycling 80km along the river although I wasn’t expecting to be wearing my fleece buff, thick coat and gloves in the middle of summer.

What we saw of Austria was beautiful and very picturesque, cycling through the rolling vineyards and windy country lanes along the Danube. I feel so privileged that I am able to see so many wonderful countries and do it the way we are. The ever changing scenery, food, languages and customs are a great way to spend my time and I feel touched by the beauty of the countries I never imaged to be so wonderous. Every day we are thinking of all the things we are heading towards and what delights the rest of the world has to offer us, making plans for other legs of the trip.

I thought Vienna would be a city to spend some time in and enjoy, how very wrong we were. After Jimi picked up his new tyres (his tyre got sliced up on the bad Czech tracks) we headed into Vienna. After an extortionately priced but delicious bratwurst and a whistle stop tour we couldn’t leave quick enough, well getting lost and trying to find a way out was not quick at all and an hour later we were on our way again. Seemingly heading the right way me and Jimi simultaneously looked at each other as we passed many a person lay on the grass next to the river naked, leaving nothing at all to the imagination. There were hundreds of people sprawled out along the river bank looking at us as if we were the strange ones. We were in fact on the wrong path and had stumbled across a nude stretch of the Danube. One woman shouted at us and signalled we should be on the other side of the river and to get away!

 

We arrived in Brataslava after a 100km cycle and found a hostel, more like a 5 star hotel really and headed out for a traditional Slovakian dinner which was very tasty and a traditional Slovakian bar with rowdy men and cheap beer. It was a whistle stop visit through Slavakia but we got the feel for the place. Vienna to Brataslava was not the most exciting leg of the journey and cycling with trees either side on a long straight road could have got tedious, but with Jimi beside me making up songs, singing the wrong words to songs confidently and entertaining me along the way it was not so boring after all. We didn’t even know we had entered Slavakia for the lack of border sign, the only way we knew were derelict border control rooms and a tax back office. The border sign to Hungary however, a mere 16km further was ridden with bullet holes and we entered a new country with trepidation and unsure about what this country had to offer us!

 

We were full of excitement that we would be soon in Budapest, but still enjoying the ride along the Danube, dubbed as ‘the most beautiful part of the Danube river’, I’m not so sure about this as the terrain was rugged, rough around the edges and the scenery was not as pleasing to the eye as some of the other countries we have cycled through. The cycle path took us through many industrial towns and along bumpy, dusty and rough paths, there was a distinct lack of beautiful greenery and wildlife that appeared in other parts.

I am still amazed that we can cycle 80km in a number of hours and I now find this a pleasant ride and not difficult in one go, if you told me a few months ago I would be cycling 80-100km a day and truly enjoying it, I don’t think I would have believed it. After popping to Tesco (they are on nearly every corner as in England, and I could not avoid my boycott of the store as there were no other supermarkets for miles) we camped at a little site in Taht. We were warned on arrival that there were a group of university students and there may be a ‘bit of noise’- now there’s an understatement if ever I heard one. As previously experienced the rafters and canoeists are a rowdy bunch and these were no exception, until late into the night they partied. Not that we are getting old or anything but we go to bed when its dark and get up when its light. Rhiannon I think you may be in for a shock at our non-party lifestyle and 10 hour a night sleeps!

So an easy ride into Budapest and the sight of the magnificent parliament building greeted us. We realised that this is about the half way mark to Turkey and we have completed about 10% of the circumnavigation of the earth. ‘Lavender Circus’ (our bohemian hostel) sounds lovely and it is really is, we decided if this was our own apartment we would be very happy to live here. It is a unique hostel and more of a boutique hotel with its individual features and very beautifully decorated rooms and common areas. We don’t really want to leave the hostel but have torn ourselves away to see the many sights that Budapest has to offer. Tonight we are celebrating our 7 year anniversary, so will have traditional goulash and sample the fineries that Budapest has to offer. (In other words we will find the cheapest restaurant and have a beer or two.) I think the 7 year itch is well and truly being scratched away and we are having the time of our lives, the cycling included.

Tommorow we head to Croatia and to meet another of the ‘third musketeers’ in the form of Rhiannon, Jimi’s sister, we will take it slow for a while as I have heard Croatia is a little hillier than the 800km flat we have just covered. Watch this space as to how and when we get there, our bikes are booked all the way to Pula, but we could only get a ticket to Zagreb so from there we are unsure how and when we will move on…the unhelpful assistant could only say, “computer has no ticket” so we did the best we could and hope we get there with bikes in tow and start the second leg of the journey towards Antalya. We are having a fantastic trip so far and I would not change a thing.

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9 responses

8 09 2012
Brenda Braun

Hi Rosie and Jim…what an experience… and you are expanding your horizons to the ends of the earth…the nudist “camp” was LOL…and I have a good easy recipe for Linzer Torte..

Blessings to you both…you are in our daily prayers. The “Yanks”…Brenda/John

9 09 2012
rosyandjim

I must confess it was indeed our second nudist stumbling, I guess we have a knack for these things. The other was in a park in central Berlin.

The recipe would be great, it went very well with our daily coffee rations. Rose speaks very highly of your cooking.

Love back at you

x

8 09 2012
john and marie

wow sounds amazing, I think the danube sounds the best, did a first myself on a bike the other day rode from manchester to Glossop pissed!! it was a leaving do and I overdid it a bit and the ride was fine but I had a puncture en route but did not realise it?!!!!Paul is cycling east west this weekend go paul, lots of love John

9 09 2012
rosyandjim

Bloody ‘ell John that’s a long ride drunk. I’m surprised you didn’t stop for a kebab and sober up!

‘Go Team 562’

Sober cycling or a bigger helmet and knee pads in future please John.

xx

8 09 2012
amccullagh

You guys have covered some serious ground, amazing! Loving the pictures (and travel beard Jimmy!) What happened to the european summer?
Our bikes are on a boat somewhere between London and New Zealand, looking forward to having Trev and Shaniqua back, you got names for your bikes yet? (maybe you haven’t got that crazy yet…)
Keep on truckin’

9 09 2012
rosyandjim

Dude I’m only in it for the beard. We haven’t named our bikes yet but I can confirm the early onset of madness has been creeping in.

Where are you? Are you missing Pi?

8 09 2012
sarahjgrant

Wow, what an adventure! Great post and reflections on your experiences….we can certainly relate to some of the funny/cringe-worthy moments. We will be living vicariously through you and are already looking forward to joining in when you get to NZ! Keep up the excellent work and enjoy every moment. Sarah xo

9 09 2012
rosyandjim

Dude, we are already looking forward to seeing you in NZ too. We met some people who’ve been touring there and loved it.

And may we say what fine blogging skills you have too. En guard?

14 09 2012
Jeongkwon Ahn

hi!! jimi&rose!! stay healthy. when you come to korea, don’t pass me by!!
And i will keep my eyes on your blog!!

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