Day -1 (negative one) The bike is in the 2 standard suitcases and we're ready to go
Day Limboe are in the air for an eternity and then it ends and the man with our names on a board drives us to our appartment in Budapest. Leaving coooold Melbourne with bike in the bags
Day 1 Rest Day - I think its Thursday ? Assemble the bike
From this to this in 2 hours, test ride and ready to go!
Day 2 - Friday 23 July Explore the town by tandem 70 Km From the appartment to town is 15 minutes by bike path. We see riders of all types mostly casual clothes and rarely a helmet. The netwok of bike paths and taffic signals for bikes is impressive. The hotel guy told us to stay with the paths as the drivers have no patience and we took the advice seriously.
We crossed the Arpad Hid (bridge) onto Margaret Island, rode it's length and crossed back into Pest and visited Parliament house. We toured the city and visited the spectacular Synagogue, Jewish museum and saw the famouse Silver Tree. Then we crossed to Buda and ignored the funicular lift and rode up to the Buda Castle riding past the toll gates ( the guard just shrugged ) the compex inside the castle was bigger and older than we expected and the view wasn't bad either. Its good to be King!
Day 3Budapest to Ezstergom Saturday July 24 The Tour begins and we hit the road. 91 Km, 145Mtrs Climb.
It wasnt hard to find our way out of town and after 20 Km we found the bike path along the Donau. The surface was poor and there were patches of everything - sun, rain, mud, walkers, riders and families.
At one point we were approaching an oncoming family of bike riders and 2 small girls were directly in our path.
We called and honked and they did not clear. I moved to go round on the edge of the path and suddenly found out how badly the tandem with a full load, tiny wheels and an unexpected patch of mud handles.
We turned into a sack of potatoes and hit the deck. First aid kit came out, we both have grazed knees, thighs and forearms and after 10 minutes we were on our way again.
Stopped at a great little place by the river for some tasty fish - Hakk, they called it and rode on refreshed. Met some very frindly "Hungarians" who were quite helpful in translations, photo taking spoke all sorts of languages and turner out to be Israeli living in Hungary - Thanks Elena.
Pushed on to Ezstergom and checked in to lick our wounds and look at the festival in the town square tonight.
What a festival! Excellent musicians had the crowd clapping and getting into it. We heard a lady play a Santana guitar solo that would have made Carlos proud. Unfortunately though, when they fired up Crockodile Rock in Hungarian it was too much to take and we headed off home.
On the way home we looked at the staggeringly large church that dominates the view of the entire city. Ezstergom, we learnt, was the original capital of Hungary and a capital needs a big church!
Day 4 Esztergom to Komarom Sunday July 26 Fight the Wind 56Km, 15Km average 110m climb Cum Distance 217Km
We rode off and lost the path almost imedeately. We struggled to find the bike path and alternated between path and road all day. We passed through Suto and saw the famous marble cutting plant. Suto is the source for some of the best marble in Europe. The marble for the Budapest Parliament and the Fishermans Bastion come from here.
We had trouble finding a hotel and asked at a restaraunt if they knew where one was. To our surprise they told us they were a hotel and we checked in for a meal and a sleep.
That night we walked across the bridge at our doorstep and found ourselves in Slovakia and planned our exit of Hungary. The sunset was pretty good on the walk back across the bridge.
We checked out of Komarom and rode out of Hungary. Restaraunt / Hotel below gave us traditional Hungarian meals for Dinner and Breakfast.
Day 5 Komarom to Bac Retracing Family Steps Monday July 27 82 Km, 90m climb ave 21km/hr, cum 299 Km
Went over the bridge to sister city Komarno, went to tourist information in lovely quaint cobbled side streets, passed hundeds of other bikes down the lanes, most loaded up with panniers and sleeping bags. Bought a strip map of bike path to guide us to Bratislava. Worst money I have spent. The map was pretty basic and only duplicated the information I already had. It did fit neatly in my map pocket though.
The bike path lasted 100m and then we found ourselves on a main road but the surface was good. We had our own space and no headwind so off we went enjoying the Slovakian country-side.
Have I mentioned coffee yet? No, well we couldn't get a drinkable one in Hungary but along the road we stopped at a bar just outside Ton, and had our first 'real' coffee in some time. Since then the coffees have got progressively better.
Another first, at this point was Hilary learning the importance of a 'nature stop'. This was performed with reluctance and caution but resulted in a pleasurable relief.
On our way we had to stop at Dunska Streda where my Mother (Hi Mum) and her family lived till the war moved them on. We rode through many of the side streets, had a coffee and had a bike shop pump our tyres and I left deciding there was nothing special about this place except that my Mum comes from here.
We pushed on and started to get keen for somewhere to stop for the night. I saw a town on the map that looked tiny and we thought we would take a chance. There was one hotel in town and though the town looked pretty desparate, the hotel was lovely. It is a year old with restaraunt and spa. We had a great stay and headed out refreshed.
Day 6 Bac - Slovakia to Hainburg - Austria Surprise after Surprise
The headwind was back and we were able to pick up the bike path and make our way to Bratislava. We had a lovely pastry lunch (at a petrol station) and enjoyed the views of Bratislava.
We continued on and the path wound around exposing us to wind at times and other times, we cruised along well. The path took us to the Austrian border but the only way we knew we had crossed it was from the map and the fact that the bike path signs changed language.
We had hoped to get the excitement of a sign telling us we had entered Austria but they don't seem to take borders so seriously anymore.
We crossed into Austria and came to a town that should be on most peoples "must visit" lists. Hainburg.
One of the oldest, well preserved walled cities in Europe, it has 3 Gates, 15 turrets , a fort on the top of the mountain and the town abounds with historic points of interest. The place that caught our interest was the Synagogue.
Having just seen the oppulent Budapest Synagogue dating from the 1840's - A synagogue from 1320 was quite different. Although in poor repair and only able to be seen from outside, it conjured up thoughts of what the lifestyle must have been so long ago. The building consisted of a spire and long rectangular section seen below. The rest of Hainburg had things like stocks, fountains and other religious statues to paint a picture of the times.
Sleep was at a Pizza restaraunt that needed cooling but was otherwise a good night
Day 7 Hainburg to Vienna Straight along the Path 55Km, Average 16 K, climb 110m, Cum 424Km
I was determined not to miss the path on our ride into Vienna and thanks to some planning the night before, we stayed on the DanauRadWeg.
The tricky bit was finding a turn between 2 branches and riding across a 3km bridge between to metal rails that were not wide enough for two bikes, but after that, it was fine.
The bridge took us to a nature reserve and the path was wide straight and the scenery a pleasure. The reserve is very well maintained and there are benches every few Kms for the many riders to stop and enjoy the peaceful beauty.
At one of these spots we stopped because 2 young German students were enjoying a hearty meal with their tandem standing by. So far on this trip, people have starred, laughed, pointed and commented about our strange bike and it was comforting to know we are not alone.
The 2 students have done some extremely long camping tours on their home made 50 year old tandem and were quite interested in our bikes construction as we were of theirs.
We rode on and about 5 minutes later were passed by no less than 3 tandems riding together! They were travelling away from Vienna and soon more tandems came past. We stopped to speak to a couple and found that they were a group of 70 tandems from USA who were doing a combined cruise and ride so had no luggage to carry on their bikes.
We rode along and enjoyed this section stopping for snacks and nature stops. Hilary has become expert at nature stops and can pick the right spot with ease.
Just before arriving in Vienna we passed what is obviously where all the hard core nudists hang out. For about 2.82 km we passed hundreds of well tanned people enjoying the river banks and each other's company. It was good to see how relaxed they were and because of that, we were relaxed about it too.
The nudist zone seemed to end at the Mosquito cafe so we stoppped for an ice cream there before cruising in to town.
Needing a recharge, I was desparate to update the web pages, we decided to treat ourselves to a good hotel and found the Arcotel right near the bike path.
Hilary loved the room, unfortunately I had to find an internet cafe in town as their service only allowed email checking and basic web access. The appolgetic staff suggested I should have my own laptop but I was surprised at the lack of technolgy in such an upmarket hotel in a modern town.
We took the underground into town, saw the sights and came across 100,000 peple sitting around at a free concert Paul Anker was giving. There were food stalls, bars and the warm summer night made this a nght nearly as good as our free concert in Esztergom.
Summary This ends the first week of our cycle adventure. The distance we have covered is at the low end of just Ok. Hilary has seen a new way to view traveling, that cycle touring has opened up. She has really enjoyed the freedom. simplicity and peaceful approach that exploring on a bike provides. We just need to get some tender areas to adapt and we can travel on unencumbered. We have both seen places and met people that are making this all worth doing.