Tuesday 16th August – Orth to Komarno (then Pribeta)
Up at 8.00AM for breakfast. It was a buffet style affair so I helped myself to lots of bread, ham, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, bread and jam and a bowl of meuseli. All washed down with lots of coffee. I thought bed and breakfast would cost about 30 euros but it ended up being 45. I’m glad I took full advantage of the breakfast buffet.
I set off with a gentle tail-wind behind me, just what I needed to make Komarno about 150km away. The path was good, on top of a long dyke with trees either side. No pesky scenery to distract me from the job at hand.The path crossed to the south bank at Hainburg. It looked like it would have been a nice place to camp if I could have made it last night. And if it had been dry. An uninspiring border crossing beside a scruffy border post and I’d arrived in Slovakia. I don’t suppose the border check point gets much use now that Slovakia is part of the EU. A few kilometres further and I was having a break across the river from the centre of Bratislave. I decided not to go in as cities take up lots of time and I still had over 100km to go.
The river turned south at Bratislava and the path was wide and smooth. This and the tail-wind were just what I needed. At Cunovo the path returned to running alongside the river which by this point had become a big, wide canal. A result of Slovak damming for flood protection and hydro-electricity. The next 30km was along this path, running about 30 feet above the road, with no shade and no seats. I just kept pedalling through the heat at a good pace. I popped down to the road and had ham and eggs with a pint at a restaurant in Vojka. For the grand total of 4 euros 40 cents. Chatted to an elderly German couple who were travelling from Budapest to the source of the Donau. He was carrying all the luggage in a Bob Yak trailer.
The path crossed to the north bank at Gabicikovo and travelled alongside the river until Medved’ov. I decided to take the shorter, alternate route, even with the promise of a bad surface further along. I stopped for a quick break just after 5.00PM and texted Margi to tell her parents that I would probably be in Komarno in about an hour and a half. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The bad surface turned out to be loose gravel. Possibly the only worse thing to cycle through would be sand. Very tough going. My speed dropped from about 25km/h to about 15km/h. And it took double the effort. Thankfully, after about 8km of gravel, the route turned on to the road at Klizska Nema. The map told me to expect more bad surface for the last 20km in to Komarno. I hoped it wasn’t going to be as bad as the last section. Unfortunately it was. I texted Margi to say I would be late and battled on through the gravel. A while late Margi sent me a text asking where I was. I sent a rather stroppy one back. The gravel was very hard work, the last thing you need at the end of an already long day.
At the railway bridge on the edge of Komarno the gravel turned into a lovely smooth concrete path. As I was speeding along I was stopped by an old man on a bike. “Hello boy” he shouted. “Hello man” I shouted back. “You are from England?” “No, I’m from Scotland.” “You are a Protestant then.” Puzzled pause. “No, I’m Scottish.” “But all Scottish are Protestant.” “Not me. Not religious.” Stupid old bugger. Let me get going again.
I eventually arrive at the centre of Komarno at 8.00PM. After a bit of confusion about where I acually was, Margi’s dad found me and we packed everything in to his small car. The back wheel of the bike hanging out of the boot a little. Within half an hour we were at Margi’s parents’ house and I was sitting down to a very welcome dinner. A shower, a bit of chatting via Google’s translation tool, a chat with Margi, bed, exhausted.
Wednesday 17th to Friday 19th August – Pribeta
A very lazy three days were spent enjoying the very generous hospitality of Margi’s parents. I spent a large amount of the time eating the large amounts of lovely home cooking provided by Margi’s Mum. It seemed that shortly after one meal finished it was time to sit down for another. Hard work
I spent the rest of the time generally lazing around. I did manage to get a small update on to the site. I also managed to migrate the new DARE website from its testing server to its proper home. Its not quite finished but Emma will be adding the finishing touches from Kenya. I took the opportunity of Margi’s Dad’s WiFi to chat on Skyp with Margi and my parents. I did a bit of shopping, got my laundry done, cleaned the bike and put the new chain on.
I selected a bunch of stuff to leave behind: some clothes I’d not worn at all; my spare tyre, new ones arriving in Budapest; my big, heavy u-lock, I bough a padlock to go with the cable; maps that I won’t need again and my battery charger and about a kilo of rechargeable batteries. When I have had access to power sockets I’v only had the chance to charge my phone and occasionally laptop and camera battery. I’m afraid I’m going to be a bit environmentally unfriendly and buy batteries for the GPS and torch as I go along. I also got an email from a journalist in Budapest asking if I would like to be interviewed for Hungarian National Radio. Of course I would.
All in all a very pleasant few days off. Shortly to be followed by the same in Budapest.