Thumbs Up – vol.4

Thumbs Up – vol.4

Slovakia
Although known for its high range of Carpathian Mountains the road from Vienna to Bratislava and then to Budapest is mainly flat and…along a Danube River. Generally, the country is safe and fairly popular destination. The Bratislava’s Staré Mesto (Old Town) is immaculate and walking friendly. There are good dining options and enough historical sites to keep you busy for few days. Slovaks are friendly and many speak English. If you’re on the way to Czech Republic, why don’t you add Bratislava to your list. You will enjoy it!

Overall Experience 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️ out of FIVE

ROADS  after the fall of communism the infrastructure is deteriorating. In result many roads, bicycle paths or sidewalks require a face-lift. If you are planning to cycle along a Danube river there is a beautiful long stretch of the EuroVelo pathway.
ACCOMMODATIONS – in the capital there is only one campsite, large but 10 kilometres away from the centre. If you want to stay near the Staré Mesto than book your accommodations at least two weeks ahead your arrival. It might be costly too.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
– KGB PUB located in the basement and decorated with the post communist artifacts. The chicken on rice dish? The music to your ears 🙂
– The Bratislava Castle dated back to 907 AD. Don’t miss on baroque garden behind the castle. It is beautiful!
_ The Barbarism of Torture rooms at the Museum of the City History
– The SNP Bridge with an observatory deck, which serves also as a good spot to have lunch or dinner.

Staré Mesto, Bratislava
The Baroque Gardens at the Bratislava Castle
The KGB PUB in Bratislava

Hungary
Lengyel, magyar – két jó barát,
Együtt harcol s issza borát,
Vitéz s bátor mindkettője,
Áldás szálljon mindkettőre.Polak,

Węgier — dwa bratanki,
i do szabli, i do szklanki,
oba zuchy, oba żwawi,
niech im Pan Bóg błogosławi.

Pole and Hungarian brothers be,
good for fight and good for party.
Both are valiant, both are lively,
Upon them may God’s blessings be.

The city of Győr was a unexpectedly surprising discovery. With its beautifully restored baroque centre, many cafes, restaurants or even pubs town appeals inviting to the visitors. Apparently the second richest town in historic buildings outside Budapest. Then overnight in Tata. Wow! Talk about the gigantic campground there

Overall Experience 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️ out of FIVE

ROADS  generally patched and pretty bumpy. Stay focus when cycling
ACCOMMODATIONS – Fényes Fürdő és Kemping Tata & Haller Camping in the capital are well located and reasonably priced. It can get busy though.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
– A local currency is forint, painful to think in thousands
– The Goulash and Lángos (fried bread) not to be missed when visiting Hungary
– On a hot day visit the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, a great experience
– The bike service available, but I wasn’t impressed
– Both, the hilly BUDA and the flat PEST will rob you off your free time. This city is magnificent and worth of each forint.
– On August 20th is a stat holiday in Hungary. The capital gets busy, I mean busy…think of July 4th in the States

The Széchenyi Square in Győr, Hungary
The statue of sitting Attila Jozsef in Budapest, Hungary
The roads weren’t always friendly

Serbia
It takes some practice (smile and body language) to get in front of the line at the Bajmok border checkpoint. The drivers are generally understanding and don’t mind for you to move ahead of them. Entering the ex-Yugoslavia territory felt awkward. Perhaps the fresh memories of the war in this region? I’m not sure. Anyhow, the northern part of the country is mainly flat and agricultural. Further south you ride the hillier it gets and eventually you are surrounded with Carpathian and Balkan Mountains. There are many cyclists in Serbia, but the majority of them you will meet along a Danube river on the EuroVelo trails. Serbs are very friendly and proud of their heritage. …

Overall Experience 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️ out of FIVE

ROADS  can be very inconsistent, don’t be shocked to see occasional roadkills (dogs). Also, make sure to have your lights on when riding through the longer tunnels.
ACCOMMODATIONS – the very first European country with the campgrounds specifically dedicated for cyclists. Make sure to stop for overnight at the LongTour Bike Camp in Sombor or The Guest House and Camp for Adventurers in Negotin. If you add to your list the Villa Babin Zub in the village of Balta Berilovic you have seen it all.
AFFORDABILITY – 🙂

ADDITIONAL NOTES
– Tons of rubbish along the road ditches.
– Many homeless or wild dogs
– Treat yourself with a traditional breakfast, a Turkish coffee (oops… the Serbian coffee that is) and the burek
– The Military Museum and the Belgrade Fortress from the 3rd century
– The Jelen pivo, a local beer now owned by Molson Coors
– See if you can manage a day hike to the highest peak of Serbia, the Midžor Mountain. It is 2,169 a.m.s.l.
– A good bike service in Negotin for as little as €10.

Overnight at the LongTour Bike Camp in Sombor
Golubac Fortress from 14th century
Delicious breakfast at the Guest House and Camp for Adventurers in Negotin

Bulgaria
This is the only European country I have been warned not to wild camp and… I didn’t. Well, once I pitched my tent behind the corner store, but with the owner’s permission. This was also my first ever visit to Bulgaria. Unfortunately my exposure to this very diverse country was minimal. I mainly stayed in the western side of the country, near Macedonia.

Overall Experience 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️ out of FIVE

ROADS  quite hilly and in a bad shape. No define bicycle pathways unless you’re lucky to spot the EuroVelo sign.
ACCOMMODATIONS – there is no campgrounds within the city limits. In fact two available are quite far away from the centre. Book a hostel, much better option.
AFFORDABILITY – affordable

ADDITIONAL NOTES
– people shake their heads up and down when they mean “NO” and nod left to right for “YES”
– Take a free (donation encouraged) walking tour in Sofia. It is very interesting!
– Tons of rubbish along the road ditches.
– Many homeless dogs
– The currency is Bulgarian LEV

The oldest building in Sofia, the 4th century Church of St. George
Sofia, Bulgaria

Macedonia 
Honestly, I didn’t have a slightest clue what to expect from this small country. Was I ever surprise?! It is quite hilly country, but when you get to Skopje you will change your cycling outfit for the hiking one. The capital city is walking friendly, but also psychically demanding. Highly recommend to visit.

Overall Experience 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️ out of FIVE

ROADS   fairly good, in fact so far the best in Balkans… Within the capital city number of bike lanes.
ACCOMMODATIONS – Urban Hostel & Apartments… Wow, was this place ever fancy? And all for as little as €14 for two nights. Amazing!
AFFORDABILITY – very affordable

ADDITIONAL NOTES
– More homeless dogs however many of them are tagged and monitored
– rubbish in the ditches, but the capital city fairly clean
– Mother Teresa was born in present Skopje
– Skopje is packed with the endless gigantic bronze statues. A jaw dropping experience
– Take a free (donation encouraged) walking tour in Skopje. Very interesting, rich in history.
– In mid October 2018 the parliament approved of the name change to Republic of Macedonia ending once for all ongoing dispute between Greece and Macedonia
– Treat yourself with a traditional breakfast, a Turkish coffee and the burek

A gigantic statue of Alexander the Great at the Macedonia Square in Skopje
Turkish coffee is common across the Balkan Peninsula
The Stone Bridge in Skopje
Old Bazaar, Skopje – one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans
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2019-01-04T03:27:32-08:00 December 28th, 2018|Freewheel|0 Comments

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