River Danube Tour Day 16: What a trip! 1300km Triberg – Budapest

I realise this final post is a day late, but once we got to Budapest we just wanted to get ready look around the place and celebrate.

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So the final day of riding from Esztergom through Szentendre then into Budapest.  A route of about 75km.  This was the least we had to ride over the final few days.  We were putting in the big kilometre days so the dream of riding the full planned route came to fruition.  The previous days riding took us through some very industrial towns and it was our only grey day of the whole trip so it was just a case of riding.  Our final ride was back to normal again.  Normal which means 35 degree minimum with hardly any cloud cover to give us some shade.  But that is how we wanted the final day of riding.  Sunny and beautiful to help remember such a good trip.  The town of Esztergom is stunning.  They have put beautiful buildings on top of other beautiful buildings so riding out of such a location was a good start to the day.  It gave the ride a good atmosphere.  The route started in some woods which provided the shade we crave but it also gave some stunning scenery to look out on.  The town of Szentendre was our big rest point for the day.  It is an arty town and you can tell as soon as you ride in.  It is a tourist hotspot but for all the good reasons.  Lovely shops and works of art on display.  The street lights have all been covered with traditional lampshades and it makes the place look really funky.  It was a shame we could not see it at night because I bet it would have been a rite spot to chill with a glass of wine.  From Szentendre we only had 24km to go until we got to Budapest, so we had time for lunch which was pittas with various dips and plenty of Coke.  When I walked back outside having paid for our lunch there was a chap chatting to Rachael.  He had seen the Bromptons and wanted some info about our trip as he too was keen on the bikes and he had done a lot of research on them, but wanted a review without the marketing hype.  He was called Jeremy and he had retired in Budapest.  The bikes would be perfect for him to get around the city and take on trains and buses.  We chatted for a while and exchanged details as we could meet up in Budapest for a drink later once we had covered the last little bit. The route went on the road for a little bit again before going back into the woods.  When we were about 6-8km from the centre of Budapest right on the outskirts we came across a strange little tourist hotspot which was just filled with your typical bars, restaurants and sun bathers and pools.  It was heaving with people and it took a while to get around them all.  Then just a little bit further we could see a few big buildings and Budapest already looked impressive.  But then we turned a corner and the city opened up with even more.  We stopped our bikes and just went “WOW”!  The city just looks magnificent, you just notice the detailed and intricate stone/tile work on towers scattered across the skyline.

We navigated straight to the hotel.  We stopped at a place called Hotel Rum.  It is a really nice spot.  After we got ready we went up to the roof terrace for our complimentary G&T.  This started the celebrations.  The view from the terrace was unbelievable and it seemed really surreal supping drinks in an open roof terrace looking over the city.  When we thought about what we had done to get there it seemed really special.  The food looked really nice so we had our evening meal on the terrace as well.  We contacted Jeremy by text and our plans came together, so he came up to our roof terrace and met us for a drink.  We then went down into the streets for another.  It was nice chatting with him and learning about what brought him to the wonderful country/city.

In the morning we woke and had breakfast on the roof.  We then went on a walk around the city to find some cardboard for the bikes.  You can get away with just packing bikes up in plastic bags for the airline but I prefer a little more protection.  Once we found some cardboard outside a closed shop we walked back to the hotel to tape them up.  We still had hours to kill so the hotel looked after our bags and bikes while we went on a stroll.  We walked around had ice creams and went to see a memorial called Shoes on the Danube Bank.

The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in BudapestHungary. Conceived by film director Can Togay, he created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honour the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

Source:  Wikipedia

After learning and talking a bit about life and the troubles of the past we walked to get some lunch.  On the way we saw a film being made.  Another conversation was started about the effort and money involved in just making a small production.  They had an army of crew, trucks and equipment going all the way down the street.  They had even made a fake hedge to film in front of but the crazy thing was this was made in front of a REAL hedge!!  I don’t know why, maybe a couple of leaves were not facing the correct way.

We walked a bit further and we found this really trendy bar that did food and cocktails.  We had a lovely meal and a couple of beers while chilled dance music played in the background.

When we had finished our meal we had time for one last G&T on the roof terrace before making our way to the airport.

This has been an unbelievable trip!  The bikes have performed without missing a beat.  Rachael is so on board with cycle touring now and she has been creating lists on where we should tour next and equipment she is going to buy for herself so she can join the community of cyclists that tour around every inch of the planet every moment of the day. Rachael had her first experience of cycle hosts through the website http://www.warmshowers.org and now she is looking forward to meeting really cool cycle/travel people through our travels.  Rachael is so cool at this cycling/camping lark.  She just keeps those pedals turning,  superstar!  This trip surpassed my expectations as I thought a river ride my be a bit uneventful considering the mountains I like to ride.  This perception could not have been further from reality.  The gorges and hills that surround most of the route were breathtaking.  We have only done the first half of the Danube.  The rest of the route continues from Budapest to the Black Sea and we are looking forward to planning that next stage.

After my first big cycle trip about 10 years ago I can honestly say in my mind there is no better way to see the world.  You have to problem solve and work together as a team and you are rewarded by seeing amazing sights and meet interesting people who have stories to tell.  If you have not tried cycle touring yet, get out there on a tour, start small if you want to gain confidence.  Trust me the only problem is you wont want to stop!!

 

 

River Danube Tour Day 14: Storm Beaters!

We arrive at our hotel with only 5 mins to spare.  When we were about 10km from Gyor our final destination, fork lightening was coming down in the distance.  The wind picked up and we heard a bit of thunder.  When we were about 200m from our destination the sun came out and we thought we had side swiped another storm.  I saw a hotel and it looked good so went to have a chat at reception about the cost.  As I was in there chatting the sky went black and the thunder roared and the lightening is crashing down with no gap in between.  The thunder is shaking the ground and the rain is lashing.  But we are inside.  I gave Rachael a high-five as we got here dry as a bone!

Today we have done another 120km.  I worked out this morning that to make up our deficit day we needed to do 100km days right to the end.  After chatting with Rachael we realised that she does not like to know the numbers of the day, so today I kept her in the dark and we just kept on riding with no pressure.  I might take this info to school leadership.  No targets and you do more and enjoy what you are doing, now there is a concept we can all get on board with 🙂

Anyway.  Today we have done 120km’s.  I just had to say it again cause Rachael is being amazing.  I did promise her a few days off on this tour, but with the heat we have been chasing the kilometres instead of having rest days.  When we got to Bratislava today I did ask her if she wanted to get a boat or something the rest of the way, she looked at me like I had asked her to jump off a high bridge into the Danube.  When she gave me that look I knew we were right on for riding.  As she had broken her 100km milestone a few days earlier, I was going to see if I could help her with her 100 mile, milestone.  You know what?  If it was not for the storm I think she would have been very happy to carry on a bit further.  But by doing that 120km today we are on track now to ride in to Budapest!  I will be so chuffed if we can do it as it is pushing logistics and planning to the limit to  make this one happen 🙂

By the way.  Today we have cycled through three countries.  We started in Austria, went through Slovakia and now we are in Hungary!  What a day.  Some comparisons about the countries which might be a bit ignorant or stereotypical and I apologise about that if it sounds like I am being rude.  In Germany and Austria they did not take VISA or MASTERCARD in most places.  They like to use an EU card to make purchases.  Slovakia and Hungary, cards no problem.  In Germany the cycle track was mainly gravel, in Slovakia and Hungary so far they have been tarmac.  I am not wanting them to be tarmac it is just an observation.  I think we need to have minimal amount of impact when creating paths in areas of beauty.  In Germany and Austria we never had 4G.  In Slovakia and Hungary we have 4G everywhere.

It is still storms outside, so I am going to get a shower and get out for tea in a nice restaurant.  We have not had beer in the last couple of days as it as been so warm I have been supping cola.  Today we will have a beer to toast another good ride with my good lady!

Cheers 🙂

River Danube Tour Day 10: Wow. Wow. Wow

Today after about 19km of riding time we left Germany.  If you read the last post I was not expecting the ride to be much different.  I could not have been so wrong!  As soon as we crossed the border we were given hills on each side covered with alpine trees and the beautiful natural smell of the pine.  The river was a pale blue and we kept on reminding ourselves of the little stream it started from in the Black Forest of Germany, not far from a little village called Triberg.

Now I know why a lot of people start the tour in Austria, the path is all tarmac, still away from traffic but the surface is stepped up.  In Germany it was like a canal path for a lot of it and it was harder going on the folding bikes.  When we got to Austria’s tarmac though we were flying, not even the electric bike brigade could come past us.

You may ask was it worth the trouble getting to Triberg by public transport to get to the proper source of the river, I will say damn was!  You can not experience the geography and the scale of what happens in the beautiful planet of ours until you see the effect of the surroundings as you ride along.

The Bromptons have come into their own since we got to Austria, we overtook the people on the campsite that left an hour before us which gave us a rite buzz.

I am so surprised by this trip.  It has everything to offer to people who appreciate nature.

We have seen herds of deer, bevy of swans and goats.  Today we had our tea at a traditional hangout, fischenof. We had freshly barbecued mackerel, chips and bread and it was lush. Washed down with some traditional ales and we were well happy.

The good news is Rachael is already talking about our next tour, so it can’t be that bad 🙂

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River Danube Tour Day 2: Finding the source of the great flow

Today we got up early and had breakfast as 0800.  The weather forecast is stating 32 degrees everyday whilst we are cycling but on the bikes the breeze makes it feel bearable.  We were on a bit of a mission to find cooking camping gas.  But we also wanted to go up and see the highest waterfall in Germany the entrance to the walk was literally just across the road, 4 metres away.  The waterfall walk once you go through the gates is about 30 mins.  We did not go up as far to see the 160m drop but we did see the seven cascades.  This was not through any other reason other than we did not know you had to go higher to see the big one! doh.

Once we got on the bikes straight away we were on a 1100m mountain climb and it felt good.  I love nothing better than getting in to an easy gear and pacing a way up a mountain full with luggage.  The bikes handled it superbly and I was so impressed at how easy it was even though in places they were advertising 20%.

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Once on the top it levelled out to nice meadows and beautiful tall trees.  The only thing you could hear at times were the cow bells.  It was just magical!

There has been some disputes over the years as to where the Danube actually starts and the villages of both places have come to a solution.  So there is the start of the highest stream which feeds into the Danube and they class it as the head water of the river.  We were there first as that is the highest point.  This area is called Bregquelle then after 40 odd km’s we came to Donaueschingen.  Here they have a Roman wall where they built a wall around the spring where the streams and river surfaces again, this is called the official start.

It has been one hell of an amazing day of cycle touring.  If you have not been to the Black Forest in Germany you need to get here.  I am having such a beautiful time, if it continues like this it will be a tour that will stay in the brain cells for many years.