Find The Others (May 31st – June 2nd)

I rolled out of Vienna Monday morning. It took a while to get out of the city. I spent a short while tinkering with my gears which had been jumping up and down a bit. As I was doing this, a large silver snake (1m+) slithered out of the bushes and out across the cycle path. Jeepers. I had seen a ‘beware:snakes’ sign along the danube cycle path a few hundred kms earlier but thought ’yeah whatever, I’ll believe it when i see it.’ Well this was seeing it, and it was big enough to make you think twice about pissing in the bushes, let alone wild camping…

As you suspected Tim…I cycled past a nudist “beach”, which wasn’t what i was expecting in the capital city. Imagine a nudist stretch somewhere along the Thames. Sadly it was the usual story when it comes to nudist spots. There was a strong headwind. A old fella out on his racer cycled past me and motioned for me to cycle behind him. There seems to be a pattern emerging with this. Maybe one day I will be that old guy. He peeled off after about 6km because the danube cycle path turned on to a gravelley path not suitable for his bike. Two young cycle tourers who i had passed a couple of hundred metres earlier caught up when i was looking at a sign for directions – One guy from Amsterdam, the other from Hamburg, both about my age. They were both solo cycle touring and had met each other along the cycle path in Germany I believe. The Dutch guy was without plan and was just out to see what happened. He was originally heading towards Moscow, but then (presumably after meeting the German guy) switched plans and decided to head to Istanbul, but via Macedonia. The German guy was heading to Istanbul but had two months to get there so was taking it very leisurely. We chatted and exchanged stories. Incredidbly the Dutch guy was packing a whopping 41kg of kit. With over 30kg of kit, i thought i was heavily laden, but this was something else. They told me they had met another guy touring who was planning to head to Tibet. They gave me his contact details and i will at some point get round to emailing him to explore the possibilites of hooking up later on in the journey, although i understand he wants to get a boat across the Black Sea… The two other tourers needed to stop to buy food for lunch but i was fully stocked and keen to press on for Bratislava so i wished them the best of luck and left ’em to it. It felt great to meet others and to know that there were other bike nomads out there embarking on equally long voyages…

Although Bratislava is only 60km away from Vienna (indeed they are the two closest european capitals), it has (unsurprsingly) an immensely diifferent feel to it.  Rollerblading is the de facto mode of transport it seems. As i approached the city centre a guy cycling 10metres in front of me swerved abruptly to avoid another one of those snakes. My plan was originally to blitz straight past Brastislava and crack on towards Hungary. I stuck to the cycle path but pulled over at an open air cafe/bar to try to source a new fork and spoon which i managed to leave behind im Vienna. I stayed for half a pint (0.90€), but maybe got stitched cos a Slovak after me ordered two pints for 2.55€. I chatted to the barman who made for a great Slovak ambassador. I got back to it on the cycle path with hundreds if not thousands of rollerbladers out enjoying the sun. After about 15km I started kicking myself at the fact i hadn’t hung around to visit Bratislava. Proper gutted. What’s 10 odd euro for a youth hostel to check out a capital city the same size as Brizzle? Even though it was a Monday night, I am sure there was loads of stuff happening and worth checking out. I couldnt be bothered to turn around so i pressed on…

I didn’t make it as far as Hungary that night, but after an epic sunset I pulled over into a small village to find a place to camp. A girl recommended me the local football field as a place to crash. I knew it would be a clear night so I when i saw the below trailer i decided to make it my bed for the evening.

King Kong size bed

The next morning I woke up to the sound of someone mowing the field on a mini tractor. Shit, I hope he doesn’t see me. I try getting my stuff together as he goes behind the club house. The tractor engines cuts out and i hear him talking to another guy. Suddenly they both pop round the corner with a cigarette and beer in hand. It’s 8am. They look straight at me and i wave a meek hello. I think they had already seen me but either way they seemed 100% non-plussed that i had spent the night there. The guy on the tractor motioned for me to follow him. He proceeded to open up the club house and offer the shower and toilet facilities. Winner. On finishing showering i wondered back out and was presented with a gift of what looked like a can of Special Brew. I’m pretty sure it wasnt cos i got served similar looking stuff in Bratislava). We shook hands, I packed my bags and said one final thank you and goodbye, then did one.

too early?

The wind made things very difficult that day. That and the gravelly cycle path with annoying gates every 100metres.

where to?

Grand International

The lunchtime beer didn’t help much either. In the early evening i decided enough was enough and left the cycle path to get on to the main road. I bumped into another cycle tourer with bike trailer and flag proudly attached to the back. Embarrasingly i didn’t recognise the flag. Turns out it was Belgian, and the cycle tourer of this amazing set-up, Patrick, was heading first to do a small tour of Hungary, then up to Moscow, then flight to New Zealand in October and cycle there for 3months, and then cycle across Australia South to North. Epic. We cycled and chatted to the next town where he said he was going to camp. Not once having paid for a proper camping place tonight felt like a good time to break that rule…

At the campsite we met two other solo cycle tourers who had met each other. Martin, a 24 year old german cycling to Budapest to meet his girlfriend, and then cycle to Istanbul. And Ugo, a 36 year old Italian who had quit his job to cycle around Europe and Cappadocia in Turkey. It was rare to meet another solo cycle tourer, let alone 3 of them. We cooked, hung out, sank some beers, and talked cycle touring. It was great fun to meet others doing the same sort of thing.

time to wake up

The next morning when we paid it turned out the campsite was in fact more expensive than the guy on reception originally made. 3€ per tent, + 6€ per person, not just 3€ as he had suggested. It felt like a lot, but maybe if i had known this the night before i met not have stayed and met everbody… We were all heading to Budapest so cycled off together…

Trailer wheel puncture

At Esztergom we left Slovakia and entered Hungary. We went to check out the Mega-Basilica, ”The Head, The Mother and The Master of the Hungarian Churches”. Second most impressive I have seen only to St Peter’s (of course) in the Vatican city. We paid 200 Forints to enter the huge crypt which turned out to be a bit lacking. Maybe in 1000+ years it will invoke the spiritual reverence they want it to.

Slovakia/Hungary border

The Mother, The Master, The Alpha and The Omega














As we got closer to Budapest I saw recognised a castle which I visited 10years ago. Wow 10 years. Whatever happened to those dreams of becoming that hotshot investment banker? We could have made it that night, but there remained 38km to cycle and we wanted to chill out. We checked in to another camping spot. 6€ per person, and 1.5€ a beer. That’s more like it. The next morning we struggled to get going and lazed in the sun. Our mission wasn’t helped by the goodluck free homebrew peach schnapps dished out by the owner.

Rain started as we arrived in Budapest. We check out one camping place. 15€ per night and it looked awful. Ugo used his GPS to track down another site. Enter ‘Hawaii Camping’. 1000 Forints per night (3 squid), and zero mod-cons. The shitters didn’t work, and we were told it would take 3hours for there to be hot water. Who cares? They had a table tennis table, and we were staying in the capital city for dirt…

Paradise on Earth

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2 Responses to Find The Others (May 31st – June 2nd)

  1. Richard Linck says:

    The amazing adventure story continues, is making very good lunch break reading for me. Sounds like there is a lot more that could be seen and done with more time and less a direct path… maybe next year.

  2. Roz says:

    Ping pong!! 🙂

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