2013.06.17, Monday, Bratislava, Slovakia
An easy 80 km ride in hot weather. The temperature is climbing into the 30s. I did the ride on the right side of the river, about 60 km in Hungary and the remainder in Slovakia. Today is the first time I’ve been able to use the official Danube bike route for all of a day’s ride. Today’s route is inland and away from flooding. Where it follows the shore of the Danube, it is on a high dyke.
The Danube bike route is part of the EuroVelo 6 route, a work in progress running from the Atlantic Coast of France to the Black Sea. Being part of the EV6 may help the Danube route in getting funding from the EU; a lot of improvements have been made to this section in the last few years. It was a joy to ride the route today, most of it on a good path, separated from the road. Another day of small towns and farm land.
A bike-friendly road into the town and a two-level bridge across the river: one level for cars and another for bicycles and pedestrians.
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and the smallest capital city in Europe. It’s a tourist city, an adjustment after Györ where I heard no English. In Györ I often had to mime to make myself understood, but people are helpful and when mime works they smile.
I arrived in Bratislava without a hotel reservation and didn’t know where to find the tourist office. Asking waiters works. If anyone can speak English, it is the waiter at the outdoor tables in the square. You are pointed in the right direction. If you get lost, ask again.
2013.06.18, Tuesday, Vienna
A very hot day. About 70 km, flat. I followed the bike route which took me into Austria early in the day and then through a national park on the left bank of the river. Endless riding on the top of the dyke with nothing but the sounds of frogs and of birds. The occasional cyclist. Very peaceful. But then there was a short flooded bit joining two dykes. It was low, unpaved and very muddy. I fell in the mud. A mess. Nothing to do but wipe off as much mud as I could and carry on.
Later, coming in to Vienna, I passed a beach on the Danube with taps for a rinse after a swim. Time to wash some mud off me and the bike. A clothing-optional beach. I’ve never before had a nude man help me rinse my bike. Don’t be alarmed, no photos.
Vienna is big and busy. Beautiful buildings, great transportation system, many people on bikes and many bike lanes. There is much to see. It is a city I can’t figure out. The cities I know have neighbourhoods, both commercial and social; I know this type of store will be in this area and that type in another. I walked for a few hours today and I continue to be surprised at how mixed this city is. Things seem to be everywhere rather than in districts. Perhaps I’ll get a feel for it.
Beware of Google Maps when travelling. I used Google Maps to get the location of the tourist office; it was wrong. By luck I got the right location before I went there. I mentioned it to the woman in the office and she said: ‘We moved from that location 13 years ago this month. Google also has the wrong location for some airline offices, We hear about it all the time.’ Google the lazy giant.
Inge arrives Thursday and we have Friday and Saturday here before setting off on Sunday morning.