Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 030 Mohacs - Osijek

Finally back to country changing mania. Today I left Hungary and entered Croatia.
This morning I had breakfast, a bit of bike tour talk and a relaxed guitar playing session with my wonderful host Alexandra and her mom. And thanks to Alexandra I finally have a mission, Yayyy ! I will deliver something to Izmir :o).
There was also a family member who really really did not want to let me go:

Croatia welcomed me with nice weather, very friendly people and for a change even with a small hill with a beautiful outlook on Croatia (left), Serbia (right, on other side of Danube, (here: Dunav)) and Hungary (in the background) plus a dramatically placed war memorial.
 Todays destination was Osijek which surprised me with a well preserved, very atmospheric old town:

And finally - statistics:

Days spent in country: 8
Cycling days: 7
Rest days: 1
Distance cycled: 491,5 km
Average km/day: ca. 61,5 km
Money spent: 217,19 €
Average €/day: 27,15 €
- Couchsurfing: 4 nights
- Camping: 2 nights
- Pension/Hotel: 2 nights
Things broke: Part of my trousers-from-chain-wheel-dirt-saving-device
Things lost: my horsewhip :(

Day 029 Kalocsa - Mohács

The sun is back again! The landscape is not very exciting here - a huge plain. But the weather finally got much better and most of the bike path was next-to-perfect and I met some fellow bikers on the way and Mohács is splendid and I was welcomed here by my wonderful host Alexandra and her friend Ilona and had a city tour with them and had a lot to talk about bike tour plans and finally will go to sleep in the definitely prettiest bedding on this trip so far, thus everything is just magnificent :o)
Oh, if I had to find something bad about this day: a piece of my trouser-from-chain-ring-dirt-protection-device got lost (something which also happened on my very first bike trip in Norway), but it is not something which is crucial anyway.

P.S. I will enter Croatia tomorrow, thus I will most probably be offline for two days - the next update should arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 028 Dunaújváros - Kalocsa

Today started with a short city tour and Langos-breakfast with my host Viktor. The guys that planned the town in the 50s did a good job - it looks like a very livable place. After saying farewell to my excellent host I crossed Danube again on the same way I came yesterday. This time the weather permitted me to admire the views from the bridge - first treetops seen from above nearby and Dunaújváros' industrial area in the distance then the Danube which is already pretty broad here. I was warned by Viktor that the rest of the ride would be an exercise in monotony. Ok, the landscape certainly was not very exciting, but mostly good roads, tailwind and friendly people made the day enjoyable enough. I had some trouble finding a place to rest in Kalocsa as the only accomodation seemed to be an overpriced wellness hotel, but fortunately I cycled past a small pension/restaurant when leaving Kalocsa, so I am both fed and relaxed now.

Day 027 Budapest - Dunaújváros

Back on the road. After some cleaning and oiling for my bicycle and some rest for me (and a strong tailwind) cycling went well again. But before cycling: waiting for the rain to stop. It eventually did around 2pm, so I had to hurry to reach my next destination Dunaújváros (formerly known as Stalinváros), the Hungarian version of Eisenhüttenstadt, built in the 50s/60s/70s around Hungaries biggest iron works. The current name means: Duna = Danube, új = new, város = town. Unfortunately I did not see much of the city, as the last hour of cycling was dark, rainy and accompanied by a perfectly spectacular thunderstorm, suitable for a decent black metal video. The landscape during the bigger sunny part of the ride was not superimpressive but enjoyable.
However, I slowly notice that I am getting a) later in the year, b) more east within the same time zone and c) more south and thus closer to the "sun from 6 to 6" zone - i.e. I cannot cycle safely until after 10pm anymore, around 8.30 it is already pretty dark. Anyway, despite darkness, tempest, rain and my accordingly somewhat rugged condition upon arrival I was welcomed cordially by my host Viktor and his girlfriend Vero. They prepared a delicious vegetarian meal and we had a lot to laugh. Later I had the chance to give something back to the community based project my navigation relies on by updating parts of the Eurovelo 6 Danube cycle path on openstreetmap.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hunting day 026 Budapest

Went hunting today. For new front carrier. Not an easy task. Went through bike shops all over Budapest.
Very friendly staff in all of them. But no front carrier. Until finally at Zöld Pont Kerékpárüzlet. Hunted one down. Not exactly top of the range. But lightweight and inexpensive. Gonna keep on using my old broken one. But now have replacement. Just in case it really breaks in the middle of nowhere. Other things bought: Food, Padlock, Oil, Map of Bulgaria. My bike lock just needed some oil. Now it works again. Til Bulgaria no map needed. Easy thing: just follow Danube. Use the map for planning overview only anyway. Detailed navigation with mobile. After hunting further trip planning.
Was supposed to be a rest day. But hunting is exhausting, too. Go to sleep now. Btw: Budapest is beautiful.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 025 Sárisáp - Budapest

This morning I was told goodbye in the most lovely way by the grandma of Urbanics family. I made my first stop in Esztergom circling the impressive and dramatically placed Basilica. From there I went on on the bike highway through beautiful landscape of the Danube Bend (Donauknie) - there were many more cyclists around, today strangely mostly in groups of 4. It was a long ride until I reached Budapest in the evening. I checked in at Bikercamp though not being a biker as they mean it - it was a good decision: nice small camping ground including all facility motorbikers and real ones need (washing machine, internet, etc...) and very friendly people. For tomorrow I have a big to do list for Budapest: organizing new front carrier and new bike lock (mine does not open anymore, fortunately this did not happen while the bike was locked :-O ), further trip planning etc. And I am looking forward to a day without cycling :o)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 024 Komárom - Sárisáp

I found my peace with the Slovakian Weather Makers. I dared to give Slovakia another try so I crossed Danube this morning, a decision which was considerably influence by the outlook to ride the flat slovakian bank and look at the beautiful hungarian hills instead of riding through the latter. Though it was cloudy and pretty cold it stayed dry most of the time, so it was a great ride. On the way I passed by a monument remembering the peace between the German/Hungarian King and the Turks in 1606 - the main feature of the monument were 6 bells so I simply had to try them out. As later with leaving Slovakia I also left both Euro-zone and Kofola-zone I had to use my last chance for spending the first on the latter at a decently placed boat-restaurant on the Danube. When I was still riding on the slovakian bank but already saw the huge impressive basilica of Esztergom (largest church in Hungary) a short but heavy rain started - grmpf, the Slovakian Weather Guys seemingly did not want to let me go without that. Anyway, it forced me to spend my very last Euro in a long while for a delicious hot chocolate, so everything turned out perfectly fine. Once I had crossed Danube into Hungary again I first had some trouble finding the way but finally made it safely to the charming village of Sárisáp located in a lush mountain valley. There my host, Mrs. Urbanics welcomed me with overwhelming hospitality. I got to know to her mother and one of her daughters (who kindly translated between Hungarian and German) along with her husband. I am again and again amazed, how openly and warmly people welcome a dusty sweaty cycling stranger at their home, even if there is no common language. I wish I would know (and could pronounce) more Hungarian words than Köszönöm (thank you) to properly show my gratitude.

Statistics Slovakia and Austria

Days spent in country: 2,5
Cycling days: 2,5
Sun hours: 0
Rain days: 2
Distance cycled: ca. 183 km
Average km/day: ca. 73 km
Money spent: 94€
Average €/day: 37,6€
- Pension/Hotel: 2 nights
Things lost: none


Days spent in country: 1
Cycling days: 1
Distance cycled: 65,75 km
Average km/day: 65,75 km
Money spent: 4€
Average €/day: 4€
- Couchsurfing: 1 night
Things lost: none
Things broke: front carrier (it probably already broke in Slovakia, but I noticed it in Austria).

Day 023 Györ - Komárom

On a Sunday bicycle riders are also allowed to have a relaxed day. The day started late with an introduction to tai chi by my multi-talented double bass playing, salsa & hungarian folk dancing, android programming, snowboarding, tai chi training, hungarian language teaching couchsurfing host Balázs before we had a lunch accompanied by live piano music. Around 14.00 I started biking. After an hour while hiding from the rain at a bus shelter I talked a bit with 2 polish fellow cyclists. Fortunately the rain did not last very long today, so the rest of the ride was relaxed. Despite cycling on Danube cycling path for two days now I just saw Danube again this evening when arriving in Komárom. Hungarian people are very welcoming and communicative - and even though I speak nearly no hungarian I can usually answer the most frequent questions (Where are you from? Where are you going? How tall are you?) mostly just using hand and feet.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 022 Neusiedl am See - Györ

This day had a great beginning and a great end and the inbetween was not so bad neither. In the morning my wonderful hosts and I had breakfast before I set off. Thanks a lot to Claudia and Ronny Goldschmidt and their son and their dog for being so hospitable to a dusty, tired cyclist. I once again crossed a border - this time to Hungary. There I drove along Eurovelo 6 (Danube Cycle Path), which seems to be some cycle highway - today I met more fellow cycle travellers than in all days before. One bad thing about this day: I noticed that my front carrier broke. Fortunately in a not very crucial place - I fixed it in a rough-and-ready way and hopefully will find replacement in Budapest. The long cycling today went well - no mountains here and only a little rain. In the evening I arrived in Györ, where my couchsurfing host Balázs introduced me into the Györ Saturday Night Scene, which was great and long (see the time I am posting this) - we even ended the night with an double base and nose flute session, yeah!