Bye bye Budapest

What a beautiful city! I am so happy that Budapest was the end of our trip, which gave us the perfect opportunity to really have time to enjoy it. As Ian described, we saw the Jewish quarter and central market on Monday. The next day, we went to Buda Castle and saw the gorgeous view back over the Pest side of the city. Under the castle are former caves/dungeons/tunnels – former prisoners include no other than Dracula!- and a labyrinth in the PITCH DARK. Very creepy in the dank and misty caverns. Naeva loved it, Amos was terrified.

We also saw the shoes marking the many Jews from Budapest who were shot at the side of the Danube during WW2. Simple and moving.

 In true Bouris fashion, we ate our way around town, finding delicious Dobos torte, sponge cake layered with chocolate mousse (thanks for the tip, Eva!); chimney cakes; lots of goulash; dried meats and strudels in about 15 flavours (quark/dill; sour cherry; yum; yum!).

 

  
We also said goodbye to Nicolas, Virginie, Jules, Zoe and Authur, from France, who we have spent many special times with on this trip. They are continuing onto Slovenia and onto Venice.  Bon courage! THere are plans afoot for us to visit them in the Pyrenees in August. We built a pyramid to demonstrate the strength of our collective legs after 2 months of biking. Their family even measured the size of their thighs before they left so that they can compare afterwards.

 Our time at BikerCamp in Budapest was a perfect way to end our trip, surrounded by like minded people on similar journeys, enjoying the shady garden as we cleaned paniers and fixed bikes.  We moved out of our tent and into one of their B&B rooms for our last night, so that we didn’t have to take the chance of packing a wet tent for our early train trip to Vienna. It didn’t rain, but it kept things simple for our last bike departure.

In spite of being stressed and a bit unclear about whether tandems were allowed on the trains, there was no problem rolling up to the platform or loading or unloading. We had to lift the bikes up onto the wagon, sans paniers, and that was that. Our seven days of biking was compressed into 2.5 humbling hours, passing some of our bike route, including the famous sand pit desert between Gyor and Komoron. It didn’t look like much from the train.

 We had one last bike across the city yesterday from the train station, which I found quite emotional. Those bikes are so smooth and easy to ride, and have taken us to so many special places. It is pretty unique to be able to travel 2250 km with one of your children only 16 inches from you, and the conversations and moments of surprise and shared scenery and questions that have gone along with it. We’ve watched the spring turn into summer.  We are so happy that these bikes will be used for another family adventure by Vara and Don and their family.

 Now in Vienna, waking up at Blake’s house again. We spent yesterday afternoon washing and trying to dry out down sleeping bags (seemed like a good idea at the time) and getting a package ready to ship home of bike gear we don’t need any more.  Blake treated us to another fabulous dinner on a restaurant terrace (sunny and high 20s here).  Today, we will leave the bikes locked in the courtyard and go on a hunt for one last Sacher torte on the way to the afternoon train to Zagreb.  It is the end of the bike trip.

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Bike trip wrap up 

Sorry not such a snappy title, not feeling so creative tonight. It’s been a full day of playing tourist in this beautiful city and there is much visiting en Francais happening around the campsite tonight

First note: To see some more of the photos since Vienna scroll back through the last few posts as we now have our new camera (the replacement for my iPhone) downloading photos to our iPad. There are some good (or decent?) ones.

Second note: I am not sure that Naeva fans are going to get there wish and another post from her. She was inspired but I think the inspiration is gone. So the teaser is all you are likely to get. I suspect there will be more adventures in our trip that will inspire.

So we made it to Budapest!!! It was the Rhine to Mainz, the Main to Bamberg, the Main-Donau Kanal to the Donau and Donau to here. It was a lot of fun and we passed through many, many beautiful (and some not so beautiful areas). On Kristina’s Facebook page there have been a number of comments about what a great adventure, how inspiring, etc. Etc. For us it was a great adventure, but we have been surrounded the last few weeks by many others on much more grand bike adventures than us: many more kilometres, with younger kids and more kids and some all three – longer, more kids and younger kids. We have blogged a bit about it before but the reality is cycling in Europe is different. We have experienced cities with much more impressive cycling networks than North American cities and other cities with similar or even poorer cycling infrastructure. But here there is a cycling culture. (Was particularly struck by this the other day when at 35 C there were lots of people cycling to the single grocery store / bar – this was a little town with no bikes lanes or fancy bike infrastructure).

And with this cycling culture and a system throughout much of the continent that includes signage in and between cities, people set out to cross or circle the continent. And then the campsites, b & bs, cities, trains, train stations, restaurants, cater to and welcome cyclists. We chose some of the best countries for cycling, but it is not a stretch to understand why others here have decided to visit and cross even those countries with the worst infrastructure. And much to our amazement, do this with small kids in tow. It is really beyond the imagination of us in North America, but here there are people and families who decide otherwise. Now with e-bikes – it is within reach of everyone reading this blog. Consider it.

I think our surroundings at Biker Camp in Budapest and these other very adventures souls (2 French families, 3 French couples, 1 Swiss German single woman, one Australian all going further than us) give us pause as to why we aren’t continuing and more mixed-feelings about this part of our adventure being over. But I think we might (despite what they say) convince our kids to bike tour again. Next time definitely on their own bikes.

A final note to say that part of what keeps all the bike tourers going is the friendliness on the road and sharing of information, but also much of the time the kindness of strangers, friends and family. We have experienced this along the way and we were so lucky to have Joop receive our bikes, host us, help get us on the way and guide us through Holland. Dieter and Andi who welcomed us into their home again, made us stay an extra day, helped us resupply and suggested Michael and Beate in Erlagen. Michael and Beate in Erlagen (who we had never met) welcomed us, fed us, stored our bikes, fed us again and gave us a place to stay out of there rain and thunderstorms. Linda who gave us a perfect excuse for a long pause in Suzfeld, to recharge and catch our breath. My mother who organized our diabetes supply shipments (and Joop, Dieter and Andi and Linda who helped receive and re-ship our insulin). Adrienne and Maika who joined us – allowing us to share this experience with family and change the rhythm for a few weeks – but also re-supplied us with diabetes supplies. And Blake in Vienna who hosted us (and will re-host us in a few days), showed us Vienna, received our various packages and who is the rendezvous points for Don, Vara and family who are taking over our bikes and riding them to France. Follow their adventures at http://www.travellyfamily.wordpress.com.

A few numbers from the trip.

2250 kilometres travelled by bike since delft

51 days

7 maps

84 km: longest day

13 km: shortest day

2 flat tires

3 tick bites

1 broken toe

10€: cheapest campsite (eastern Hungary)

5: number of friends homes we’ve stayed in along the way

8 major items lost/ broken (pair of sandals, pair of sunglasses, bike helmet, rain pants, iPhone, swim trunks, bikini top, towels)

2: shoelaces broken on bike chain

2: times Amos fell off bike

14 rest days

5 countries

3 rivers, 2 canals

A few photos from the last few days in Budapest (well only the arrival – still not totally sorted out this new camera). A very cosmopolitan, seemingly young (the people) City with a centuries and centuries old history. At times a bizarre mix of historical buildings, Soviet era architecture and the new. Last night the City mostly stopped to cheer on Hungary in the Euro final 16 (soccer). Super impressive atmosphere. Unforatutely they lost. We have done quite a bit of walking, lots of eating, a tour of the Jewish quarter and went up St. Stephens to take in the views.


     

      

          

Done!!!!!!!!!

 We are finally done this bike trip! My parents say that’s a bad thing but I’m not so sure… 
[this is just a teaser to Naeva’s blogpost about our last day. I wasn’t supposed to post it yet and now can’t get it down, so will leave you in suspense until she finishes it]. Right now, she is busy under the tree in the campground making Brazilian bracelets with the French kids, while Amos and some others play ping pong.  Such a good, lazy day to relax, clean the bikes and do not much of anything. Heading into Budapest shortly to find a pub to watch the Hungary – Belgium soccer game.

Loving this campsite and hanging out with our new friends.  

 
This family left this morning for the Danube route back to France (their bike is also a tandem)

  
Sorting and cleaning up.  There are things at the bottom of the paniers that have likely been there for months. Gross.

  

Budapest!!

We made it. 2174 km. Our odometers, which are both missing some days say 2241 and 2275. Side trips, shopping and our practice trips around Delft and to the North Sea account for the difference. We are enjoying an evening and barbecue with our road friends from France (and some new ones from this evening to boot). So pictures and more words will follow. Thanks to everyone who helped, hosted and joined us along the along the way! What an adventure…sad it is over. The kids … happy to have made it … we might have convinced them to keep going though. The rolling adventure is a bit intoxicating despite the weather and a few road challenges.

Slovakia – so good

We crossed back into Slovakia this morning at Komaron and have been blessed with faaanntastic bike trails (thank you European Union for your generous funding).  A five star day, 65 km or so. Naeva’s feeling a bit better. Only complaint was the heat (35+ was my guess). We made good time all day and are camped in Sturnovo, Slovakia across the water from Eztergom, Hungary.  Thermal baths + camping are really big here, and a great end to the day. The water slides are epic. Amos and Ian did them all. We’ll add photos soon.

Off to bed. Slovakian mosquitoes are as bad as Canadian one.s 

And the photos.  Check back later …

The Longest Day

Happy Solstice! It was indeed the ‘longest day’. After going to bed by the light of the full moon rising over the thermal baths we were camped beside, the day started at 2am with Naeva saying ‘my tummy hurts’. Oh no. Amos has been recovering from the bug all week and I guess it is back for round two. At 4 am Naeva woke again – couldn’t get back to sleep. The daily symphony of birds began at 4:20 as the dawn broke. The upside of a sick child is getting to see the day begin as you traipse to the campground toilet together…

At 7 am the church bells pealed for about 10 minutes. At 8 am we were baked out of the tent by the sun and gave up on sleep for good. Naeva’s tummy still sore but ok for a day of biking. She put on a brave face until she slammed her finger in the bathroom door. Ugh.

Also got a note from Virginie and Nicholas warning about bad route conditions for today between gyor and komaron, with advice from other biker families to cross back to Slovakia. Will do that tmrw.

Off to the local bakery for breakfast top-up, and watching the operations through the glass windows. The four person team making poppyseed rolls was a sight to behold.
The weather has done a 180 and we are heading into a heat wave for the next few days! We burned (literally) through the first 25 km of easy scenic biking this morning. Ian’s bike was making grinding noises and it held it to get to gyor for the bike shop to check it out and get the all clear to make it to Budapest. Gyor was lovely and we had ice cream and Amos ran through the fountain while we were waiting for Ian. Naeva melted, brave but uncomfortable.
We still had 40 km to go, the heat was pounding and it was 2 pm. We decided on a shortcut to shave off about 10km. A lady standing on her driveway tried to tell a the road was clsed(?), or broken(?) or something Hungarian. Through gestures and the map we described that we didn’t want the main eurovelo route but track past the Little village in the middle of nowhere. We think she said it was good to go. Maybe not. All seemed good for the first 2 km- mud holes, gravel but ok. And, then…SAND. Impossible to bike without sliding sideways, bike tipping over, kids falling off. Too far along to go back; gotta go through it. Walked/pushed/ swore at bikes for what seemed like miles (likely only 2 km). Temperature was over 30 by this point. Did I mention we are on the Hungarian prairies? Big, expansive fields. Gorgeous sky. Not much shade.
Finally we hit gravel, then pavement and hooked back up with the main eurovelo route, just in time for the poor route section that we had been warned by others about. We thought the portholes and deep ruts and tire tracks with 1 m high weeds were actually quite pleasant after the sandpit desert we had crossed. one of the other French families chariot broke a few days ago on The same stretch. It would have been incredibly challenging with a trailer or tow bikes- félicitations à nos amis français who are travelling with both.
By this point we were laughing at the terrible trail,the scorching day, thankful for the good condition of our bikes. even naeva, drugged on Tylenol And Gatorade, managed some laughs.
We cranked through the last bit of the ride, 5 km along a busy highway, dripping in sweat, fuelled by cold coke from the grocery store, hoping for a site with a pool and thermals. Alas, the campsite guide was wrong but we are in a forest, with hot showers, and friendly campers, including the Norwegian guy who gave us four ice cold fantas when we arrived. Now sipping Hungarian wine And enjoying the warm evening. Naeva crawled into the tent at 6 pm. Amos was asleep early, by 9:30.

The longest day is almost done.

And a few photos from the adventure         

Treating a low and bad stomach all at once.

 

     

    

 

  
    

Sent from somewhere in eastern Hungary

Into and out of Slovakia

Yet another whirlwind of a few days. First off … It is true, but my (Ian’s) iPhone is dead, kaput, gonzo. Unfortunately it has gone to the grave with many of our bike pictures … Not backed up! But we have those from Adrienne’s time with us, a photo or two on the iPad (now backed up) and of course those we left on the blog.
A long winded explanation for the lack of photos … I have added a few to the last post on Vienna – check it out again – and once I have our new camera linked to the iPad will post some of the last few days. Yesterday we left Austria and entered Slovakia. Today we left Slovakia and entered Hungary. Slovakia was … Well I think we were left with some weird impressions. Turned out the campsite we thought was going to be close and accessible to Bratislava wasn’t. So after waiting out the most torrential downpour yet (the “mini Danube” as Amos said was flowing through our campsite) we biked the last 25 km to Bratislava. The border crossing is now shut down and along with a bunch of abandoned buildings there was only a small coffee stand and a number of container sleepers for refugees. We were impressed that bike signs and bike paths took us write into Bratislava. 

Signs of change though, were the much too steep ramp up to the bridge and massive, bike unfriendly lip at the beginning and end to the ramp (in comparison to the gently graded corskew bike ramp on the bridge leaving Vienna). 

Bratislava has a small and beautiful old town and we spent an hour or so in the main square eating our lunch and watching some young girls practice for the evening fashion show. 

We then left to find our campsite at Zlate Piesky, which was near the airport and well out of town. Our map seemed to indicated a route out that way but along a busy road … We were reading the bike map wrong. Things started out well and we were following a bike lane out of town. It abruptly ended though and after trying to ask directions from two ladies – one on a bike – the one on the bike who spoke no English and a very little bit of German offered to take us part way there. YES!! Well what an experience we went this way and that up “bike ramps” (e.g. A small blob of asphalt laid strategically by a curb) and eventually to a very big road. She pointed down the road. Straight, straight. After I tried to ask where we were (to get a sense of how much further) she waved at us exasperatedly and said follow some more. She took us right to the campground entrance. But we had had to bike down very busy, very bike unfriendly roads for a good 7 kms. It would have taken much, much longer and the damage to our psyches and relationships might have been lasting. Thank you Slovakian woman on a bike. You were amazing. 

The campsite – rundown, dirty, graffiti filled with lots of signs saying be careful of your stuff and lock up your bikes in the bike room. The campsite was on the side of big lack that had, at one end, some wonderful contraption that towed wake boarders around in a massive circle, where they could practice their jumps. However, we got out of there as fast as we could and ended back into town (on the tram!) for our one and only Slovakian meal and with the intent of watching the Slovakia / England Euro showdown. The meal was delicious. Although unlike Austria the soccer game seemed to less of big deal. The game was on in bars and restaurants but it was not so crowded and there were many less flag wearing people walking around. Naeva and Kristina had time to catch some of the fashion show and we made it safely back to our campsite (by taxi!). Nothing was stolen, the hedgehogs didn’t attack and we didn’t catch anything from the bathrooms and showers (we think). 

We then had to retrace our steps this morning back into town and over the bridge (a different one). Our plan of attack was more sound. Just bike down the damn road. Think biking through Coquitlam through big box store land for about 5 km or so. After a few turns, some sketchy roads (huge pot holes, massive lumps of asphalt near the curb from asphalt driven on by trucks too soon), bumpy sidewalks, we suddenly found an intersection with very bright, very new bike lane paint. From there it was a bike lane ride out of Bratislava and along bike paths and dikes all the way to the Hungarian border. There were lots of bikers, many, many roller bladers (some bikers and bladers in speedos even!), and on a Tuesday in about 15 km we passed about 7 or so bike rest stops with mini-restaurant, coffee bars with beer and of course playgrounds and trampolines. If you biked into Bratislava old town and then out again on your way to Hungary you would have a completely different impression than our Zlate Piesky night gave us! We need to spend more time in Slovakia so our kids don’t bad mouth it the rest of their lives. 

And then we arrived in Hungary … Even less of border crossing. There was though this time a sign saying welcome to Hungary (or least that is what I think it said). The biking the rest of the way was through small towns … One of which we stopped (on the spur of the moment) for a very delicious, but very sloooow lunch… And along country roads. Flat, pretty, lots of farms and a fair bit of traffic. Not too much but very different cycling than the previous 2000kms. 

That’s right my odometer switch to 2000 kms plus today! Our trip hasn’t been that long but even though my odometer didn’t work for a couple of days when you add in the side trips, errands and practice rides in Holland we are over 2000 kms now (probably 2100 kms actually). 

More on Hungary and trip another day. We are staying tonight at thermal baths with water slides and wave pools to boot. The weather is warm (25 C plus). Our only complaint. Mosquitos. Can’t have it all.
Ian

Leaving Vienna

   Our rainy campsite  
    
   
   


  Crossing into Slovakia   

   

 
  

  

  

 

Our campsite in Hungary at the thermal baths
Lots and lots of storks in this region.  Very cool.  
    Hungarian border crossing