May 2016
  • Day19

    Budapest (finally)

    May 26, 2016 in Hungary ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    A pleasant ride along the Danube into Obuda and the outskirts of Budapest. Plenty to observe and with no hurry.

    Centrally in Budapest, cycling has been carefully planned and cycle paths clearly marked. Once away from the riverside it's a bit of an add-on and there is too much traffic and too many pedestrians to make cycling relaxing.

    After the minimum of sightseeing I took the train to Ferihegy airport, now defunct following the collapse of Malév, the national airline. (The floor of the old fashioned carriage was 5' above platform level). My Cicerone guide however gave clear and accurate instructions on how to get to the new terminal without using the motorway which appears to be the only road serving it.

    Following the recce I found a Pension in Vesces, just 20 minutes from the airport.

    Looking forward to my return flight to sunny Yorkshire tomorrow!
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  • Day18

    to Szentendre via Slovakia

    May 25, 2016 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Warm ✅, dry ✅, tailwind ✅. Initially there was a lumpy cycle path beside communist era flats and defunct industrial sites. Pic 1 shows the entrance to a former aluminium factory with the inscription "work for us is a matter of honour and duty".

    There followed a busy road section by smelly ponds polluted from industrial waste. Lorries occasionally thundered by me and I was reminded of American bank robberies - "stay where you are and no one gets hurt" - as I tried to ride as far to the right as feasible given the road conditions.

    But after 1.5 hours there was a sudden change to beautiful smooth cycle paths, and colourful surroundings.

    Pic 2 and 3 - Esztergom, a cruise destination. Older school children in smart uniform and younger children on a cycling trip.

    Took ferries to Slovakia and back to take advantage of a great section of cycle path.

    Szentendre is very touristy but pleasant and English speaking is common. Lovely Pension with air conditioning.
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  • Day17

    to Komarom via Gyor

    May 24, 2016 in Hungary ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    The temperature dropped 20 degrees C overnight announced by huge peals of thunder. First two hours of cycling were damp but with a tailwind on good cycle tracks.

    Weathered a shower in a bakery in Gyor that happened to do good coffee and cake.

    The approach to Gyor from the south is pretty and sudden and the old town is attractive. However leaving Gyor going East takes a long time with industrial scenery. There is a huge Audi plant to the European which makes 90% of all Audi engines.

    A section of the official route was unsurfaced and nearly unrideable after the rain.

    Since finding digs in Komorom I've walked over the Danube to Slovakia and back but then been pinned in by more rain.

    Pics: poppies, crane nesting and tending a chick on top of a telegraph pole, view along the Danube.
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  • Day16

    Vienna - Bratislava - Mosonmagyarovar

    May 23, 2016 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Hot - up to 30'C this p.m with a headwind all day. Like being blow dried.

    Good directions got me out of Vienna without mishaps and I enjoyed the spiral descent off the Donau bridge (pic 1), memories of the velodrome. A couple of hours spent cycling through the Donau-Auen national park; I didn't see much of the 100 types of bird but did see heron, lizards, butterflies and dragonflies, and heard frogs.

    A couple of hours spent in Slovakia - lack of route signs, a bit tatty, but the waitresses at lunch were nice and spoke English. Road sign before hungarian border peppered with bullet holes (pic 2).

    Hungary - first impressions: quite smart, good cycle route markings and cycle paths, smells nice.

    Arrived in Mosonmagyarovar in time for the tourist office to find me a Pension - smart and friendly. Looks mostly tidy (pic 3) but some neglect, e.g. holes dug in middle of Cycle path not filled in (pic 4) - avoided by local cyclists and motorists alike.

    Mosonmagyarovar Is home to 350 practising dentists and from a walk around town seems good for: dental work, beauty treatments and products, massage, spa baths and hair care.
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  • Day16

    Bratislava

    May 23, 2016 in Slovakia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Sitting outside a café at the end of Novy Most bridge. I was approached by Mike who I had met a few days earlier. His 60th birthday today! Happy Birthday!

  • Day15

    Vienna (2)

    May 22, 2016 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    A good 4 hours spent in the Kunsthistorisches museum seeing fine paintings by Reubens, Rembrandt, and my favourite Pieter Breugel the Elder.

    Pic 1 - Rembrandt self portrait R, one of 60 with his second, 16 yo wife L.

    Pic 2 - section of Breugel painting "peasant wedding" which reminds me of the "two soups" sketch. Porridge is the wedding dish here.

    Pic 3 - man absorbed with smartphone amongst roman busts

    Pic 4 - more armed police, this time queuing for ice creams; a popular pastime for many now that it is 26 degrees.

    Caught a delightful concert in St Peter's church this p.m. organ, orchestra and vocal soloists. They even sang Amazing Grace in the original German.
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  • Day14

    Krems - Vienna (1)

    May 21, 2016 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    It's hotting up and a short sleeved top and shades have been necessary since starting at 8.30. In earlier stages I could ride for an hour or more without seeing anyone, let alone another cyclist, now there is never a time when cyclists are not visible. Some, however, were wearing long leggings, long sleeved tops and body warmers.

    Photos today are just from Vienna.
    - Vienna cool - a single speed bike with neon lock, fashion shoppers and a porsche with yellow seat belts.
    - young couples dancing in front of a museum
    - McDonalds are everywhere
    - a trouble maker being arrested by 10 armed police

    Vienna (2) tomorrow.
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  • Day13

    Melk - Krems

    May 20, 2016 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    I had as much of a look at the benedictine Abbey of Melk as I could for free. It is very photogenic and also happens to house a girls' secondary school.

    Then there was a long stretch cycling through the Wachau region, famous for the growing of wine. The scenery was what I think many if us imagine Austria to be like.

    As it was a short day I arrived in Krems at 3pm and experienced my first beer festival complete with brass band. While there I met a delightful and handsome austrian couple (Florian and Sabrina, pictured) who had met in Eastbourne but whose homes were only kilometres apart. He is studying dentistry and she languages although she already speaks more than 4. Nett dich zu treffen!
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  • Day12

    Linz - Melk

    May 19, 2016 in Austria ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    An early start meant that I reached the Mauthausen concentration camp memorial and exhibitions early. The presentation and explanations were excellent, but even grimmer for that.

    Outside the main gates are memorials from the many countries whose citizens died at Mauthausen - it truly was an international tragedy.

    No punches were pulled on topics such as: that the maltreatment of prisoners was "by the book"; prisoners were set against each other by establishing hierarchies; german companies that profited from slave labour; the difficulties of prosecuting those involved due to destruction of evidence; and the continued persecution of some groups after the war.

    After that I completed three half day sections of the route, time trialling it to reach Melk 10 minutes before the tourist office shut. A helpful assistant found me budget accommodation based in a wood fabrication workshop on the edge of town.

    Photos - main gate of Mauthausen from the parade ground, the Italian memorial made up of individual names and photos, Melk Abbey from the old town.
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  • Day11

    Day off - Linz

    May 18, 2016 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    It makes a change to be foot sore rather than saddle sore but I'll be glad to get back on the bike tomorrow.

    It has been hot and with walking there is no cooling breeze.

    Adolf Hitler came from Linz and his grand plans included building a retirement home for himself here, demolishing the existing Schloss in the process. A far cry from Townend Close where my mum lives.

    Photos;
    - stained glass in the incredibly spacious Mariendom church
    - lovely old buildings
    - displays in the museum of dentistry, tooth shaped
    - looking upstream from the Schloss
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