Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Day 34 - Zilina - Slovakia

Now I hadnt intended to visit Slovakia, but that is the good thing about not having a route planned. I had always wanted to visit Bratilava for some reason and bieng so close to Vienna I thought I might as well.

The ride from Vienna was a doddle and almost totally flat along on near the Danube, with only 75m of climbing in 77k. I thought my altimeter was having a day off. For part of it I found a cycle track, but is was along an old railway line and so flat and straight with trees to either side that I wished I was still on the main road. Bratislava was a nice little city but a bit of an anticlimax so soon after Vienna. The campsite was beside a large lake and was more like a beech resort, especially being a hot Sunday.

Yestaday started of flat with hills and vineyards to the left and a plain to the right, but the afternoon made of for it and was very hilly and stinking hot and it was just hard work with hill after hill and sweat pouring off me again. I was pretty tired by the time I got to Stara Tura only to find the campsite had closed down long ago. I decided to camp there anyway and took a shower in the lake and dried off in the sun. I had a beer in the evening, well it seemed rude not to at 50p for a half litre.

Today has been heading north with a tailwind and pretty flat with mountains on each side, so progress has been pretty swift. Zilina is a nice town, but another place where the campsite no longer exists, so I have another 12k when I leave here to see if the next one exists otherwise it will be wild camping tonight.

Slovakia is typical Eastern European and quite a contrast coming after Austria. Towns are pretty dull with plenty of ugly concrete tower blocks. Supermarkets are about as uninviting as they could make them and many look more like prisons from the outside, in fact I didnt realise what they were until I saw a trolley outside one. Most things are unapatising, even by my low standards. The choice of bread is either stale rolls or stale loaves. In Austria there was a huge choice of cheeses but here there no more than 3 big slabs. Its cheap though, so I shouldnt complain too much. Tesco are taking over the world and there are a number here, but having seen the competion they can hardly fail although I have refused to use them and support the little crappy shops instead, beside if the bread is stale you eat less.

The best thing so far about this place is that the cyclists are all slower than me and for once I feel as though I am going fast.

Those LED bug things is nothing to do with drink I promise you, although I did see far more last night when I went back to the tent after a beer.

From here I am heading south for 3 days and will spend the weekend in Budapest, then its east again and into Ukraine.


Basher Barlow said...

I think I neeed to make an apology to all as I think I have been posting to the wrong "John Harwood" blog as I saw some previous comments about the lack of wild gastronomic tales of which you recounted of on past trips. Sorry, but the John Harwood I know eats nothing but sausages :-)

John can I also remind you of that great comment of yours some 20+ years ago "Can't see the point of going abroad, it is all the same..".

So, keep them pedals rolling son, we are with you all the way (well apart from the uphil bits).

Basher Barlow said...

John... Quick thought, if you are regretting this then now is the time to bail out. You, like me can use the excuse of being a poor speller and say the blog should have read "Cycling to Austria" and as such the mission accomplished.

Caff said...

I love the photo of the man emerging out of the drain - were you the clown that put a pink smartie on its hand? I loved it.
Reminds me of the sculptures in Budapest which I really enjoyed - the girl/boy sitting on railings, a man sitting on some steps and another man standing on a bridge. You will have those pleasures to look forward to - even more so in Caroline's company!! Enjoy your weekend together and don't forget she has to give you something from me!!!! :-)
I also enjoyed BB's comments too - about your spelling error "Cycling to Austria". However, I've decided I don't want you home yet, I'm enjoying this blogspot, other people's comments and the photos - gives me something to look forward to at work on a cold, wet, grey summers day. So as BB says keep them pedals rolling.....brother! I'm looking forward to your news from Pakistan (not that I'm trying to hurry you along - although Richard is as he wants his kitchen table back!) especially as I have been invited there next year :-) xx

S said...

Not sausages ... nothing but pizza!