In Vienna we had a good time with Gordian and Alice and we were almost divinely taken care of. They offered us homemade icecream, homemade bread, apricot dumplings and a lot more. We had a flat on our own where usually Noemi’s cousins live (but one was in Madrid at that time and the other one had moved out) and we got to catch up on some sleep. On our second evening we had a very nice and spontaneous reunion with Janina, a friend from Berlin, and her father who coincidentally were in Vienna for the weekend. We met at Rathausplatz where an open air film festival was taking place, they were showing the New Years concert of the Wiener Philharmoniker. Together we walked through the city center and had some ice cream. The next evening we went to the housewarming party of Noemis cousin Alex and his girlfriend Julia. So we got to see their new apartment and meet some of their friends and colleagues. During the day we often did some cycling around the city center – its so handy to have your own bike with you 🙂 And without the luggage you’re much faster. On our day of departure we sat together with Gordian and Alice for a long time, talked and were looking at maps and discussing options and alternatives for our route. We are probably following the Eurovelo 6 crossing Serbia, maybe Romania, Bulgaria and then heading towards Varna at the Black Sea, instead of cycling via Greece. This way we are saving a lot of mountains. Finally, we left Gordian and Alices place with some great lunch full of selfmade cookies and Striezel from Alice. When we left we weren’t sure how the weather would turn out, but we definitely didn’t expect it as bad as that: After approximately 10 km there was stong rain, hail and even a tiny tornado coming up. Luckily we found some shelter in the door keepers building of an oil refinery to wait for the bad weather to pass. Later we were able to set up out tent without the rain.
The next day we continued our journey towards Slovakia and got to Bratislava in the late afternoon. We put up our tent a bit outside of the city near the Danube. The following morning it was so hot already at 7 am that we had to leave the tent. We then went back into the city and enjoyed a nice breakfast with pastry and joghurt and spent the day in an internet cafe in order to do some research about the route and take care of the blog. The night we again spent outside of the city; after a hot day like that there was a big thunderstorm and storm arising, but luckily we were fine in the tent. Cycling next to the Danube the following day was perfect: slightly downhill, tailwind and a well built street. Unfortunately, the second half of the way was full of pebble stones, which made it quite slippery for the bikes and exhausting for us. In the evening we found a nice camping spot close to the water.
The next border to cross was the Hungarian one. After having cycled 77 km we reached the Hungarian city Esztergom, situated at the Hungarian-Slovakian border. There, Viktor, our first couchsurfer on this trip expected us and showed us around the city and his neighbourhood. As he had already told us he lived in one of the socialistic apartments of which you find a lot in Hungary. We had a good time together and learned our first Hungarian words. The next morning we already were able to understand some words of the neighbours conversation: „yes“ and „thank you“. When we were later putting our bags back on the bikes we were being watched by some of the neighbours who were looking out of their windows and talking to each other. They also included us in their talk but we weren’t able to follow, unfortunately, but it didn’t seem to bother them a lot.
The next city on our way was Budapest. As there was a thunderstorm coming up we decided to put up the tent a good bit before reaching Budapest. The next morning we enjoyed having fresh things as pastry and joghurt for breakfast again (instead of preparing porridge as usual) as there was a closeby supermarket. In order to get to our next Couchsurfing host Laszlo and his family in Dunaharaszti, we had to cross Budapest and were in a big city again: Lots of people, hooting cars and really nice buildings. In the evening we arrived at Laszlo, Kata, Adam, Flora and Annas place. There we would be staying much longer than we had planned. On our way to Budapest, two of our bags and Lauras lowrider broke. We were able to fix the lowrider with the help of some other cyclists, tape and cable ties. The bags still got warranty and the contact adress in charge was a bike shop in Budapest we wanted to come by the next day. Luckily Laszlo helped us with getting in contact with them, as we sometimes don’t get very far with German and English (and Dutch 😉 ). So the next day we went to Csepel, which was an industrial area back in the 19th century and is used today by a number of smaller companies. When it was just one big company there used to work more than 20.000 people. Laszlo already said, going there would feel as going back to the fifties. Arriving at the bikestore „evobike“, the „diamond“ of the bike shops in Hungary as the shop keeper said our bags were fixed. Apparently a lot of people who are travelling the world and plan to do so have come to this shop: a couple had gotten their bikes and equipment there for going on a 4-year-biking-honeymoon. While waiting in the store we met Klara and Marton who had come to build a tandem-recumbent bike, that they need for their wedding in two weeks and a trip to New Zealand next year. In the meantime we had decided to exchange some parts at Lauras bike (the chain, the lowrider and the luggage rack) in order to make the bike more stable and prevent it from breaking easily. After attaching the backwheel the bike mechanic went for a test ride and that’s where the gear cables of the Rohloff speedhub broke. As the speeedhub wasn’t (as it should have been) fixed with a ledge to prevent it from spinning when the wheel is moving. Instead, it was fixed with lots of pressure when putting on the back wheel. Now, the wheel had been put back on just using normal pressure, so the speedhub turned when the wheel moved and the gear cables broke. As normal gear cables don’t fit on that speedhub, new cables should be ordered from the Rohloff contact person in Hungary. But the boss was on holiday, and as it was really just a one-man-company we had to wait 4 days for him to return to Hungary.
We are so lucky to have so lovely hosts as Laszlo and Kata, where we can now stay for nearly a week than just one night as we had planned originally. Laura got a subsitute bike for these days and in case it should take even longer we are invited to Klara and Martons wedding.
The additional time we have now in Dunaharaszti, we play nice games together (we even introduced Ligretto as we were reminded when staying in Moosburg how much fun it was), we sit together with Kata and Laszlo, learn more about the Hungarian culture and language, and do some research and run errands.