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Day 19 - July 28 2016: Esztergom to Budapest  

Day 19 - July 28 2016: Esztergom to Budapest 

Well, I made it (happily collapses in a jelly-legged heap). 

Woke to find my back tyre was flat. Assumed it was a slow leak so pumped it up and it ended up getting me most of the way before it needed pumping up again. Took it pretty easy for the first 10kms as it was highway again, though not busy. I was about to take another pic of a fibbing 'deer next 5kms' sign and then, whaddaya know? A deer jumped out in front of me! Brilliant. Unfortunately, deer don't tend to stick around for long enough to pose for a pic. 

Took a ferry to the right side of the Danube, having ridden for most of the trip on the left. The track was mostly excellent for the next 40 or so kms and I took it pretty easy and enjoyed the view. 

Getting into the hotel was a slog. Tons of traffic and the bike lanes and footpaths are not so great. Still, elated to have made it and to have kicked the ass of something that had been eating at me for 3 years :-) 

Enormous thanks to all of you good folk who have liked and commented and sent words of encouragement: I never felt alone for a single second and that's actually something quite new for me, and wonderful to feel. Thank you!

Day 18 - July 27 2016: Komarno to Esztergom  

Day 18 - July 27 2016: Komarno to Esztergom 

Today's ride was mentally challenging because about 40kms of it was along busy highway that had no real 'shoulder' to speak of. The road was often rough, which meant I needed to use my brain; something I haven't had to do particularly often in the last 3 weeks (uh-hum, decades)... 

Again, the motorists were great but it was often challenging and a little scary. When not on the road, the bike tracks were the best I've been on for the whole trip! 

As a consequence, I didn't get many photos along the route: just concentrated on staying on the road. 

Esztergom's beauty and ruin are intertwined in a way that reminds of Palermo: derelict building-fancy house-restaurant-derelict building etc... Of course there's a 10 centuries-old castle and amazing church that overlooks the Danube to add to its appeal. And it has hills: towns with hills have a whole different appeal to them. Not necessarily for cyclists but, they're better to photograph ;-) 

I definitely got sun stroke on today's ride so after a sleep and some Nurofen I went on a hefty walk around town and had a tour of the castle with the most wonderfully-dorky tour guide with lisp :-) 

My experiences on this trip confirm my previously held opinion that palaces are wanky and a waste of time but castles are ramshackle-funnicity and cool-as-f@$k. (See what I did there Matt?) 

Got caught in a massive 30 minute storm and am hoping that that's the last rain I see until I get back to Melbourne in 2 weeks!


Day 17- July 26 2016: Gyor to Komarno  

Day 17- July 26 2016: Gyor to Komarno

Not much to report about today other than having to ride about half of the way on a pretty busy highway. Gotta say that European drivers a very considerate towards cyclists. Really impressed.

There are signs on the side of the road counting down the distance to Budapest, which is silently encouraging :-)

Had a massive 3 hour sleep after I arrived and walked around the town of Komarno. Afternoon naps :-)

Went for another walk and ate the worlds fattiest ribs for dinner. Terrible, but also excellent :-) 2 more rides to go!

Day 16 - July 25 2016: Mosonmagyarovar to Gyor  

Day 16 - July 25 2016: Mosonmagyarovar to Gyor 

I'd planned a very straight, simple route for today's ride but 10kms in, it became clear that although there were plans for a paved bike path in place, there is no path as yet. After not feeling terribly safe whilst riding on the mostly lumpy, puddled and awkward highway, I took a sharp left and just starting making it up. 

I stupidly applied a 'no turning back' policy and quickly found myself in the middle of a field with my wheels locked with mud. And it was just brilliant. Really fun. I was genuinely lost, and for the first time on the trip my phone's gps was also confused. But, I knew that as long as I followed the tractor tracks (and horse shoe tracks) I'd find a town eventually. And I did. And, at this point I also found the actual Eurovelo track that I wanted in the first place: as Dad would say 'you don't have to be good, just lucky!'. 

My detour only cost me about an hour and maybe 6-7 extra kms and the revised route landed me in the middle of a triathlon; going against the flow. For a second I wondered what would possess these people to do such a thing on a 30c day... And then remembered that I was in Prague 700km ago, not to mention bogged in the middle of a corn field just half an hour earlier... So, maybe I should do a triathlon? 

I've clearly spent way too much time alone in the sun on this trip! 

Anyway, got to Gyor, which has a delightful 'old town' section, and a pretty slummy suburban section, which is where I'm staying. Fortuitously, there is a do-it-yourself car wash 10 metres from my accom, so my bike and shoes are now 'paddock' free. 

Chilled (well, sweated a lot actually) for the rest of the day around town. Good day :-)

Day 15 - July 24 2016: Bratislava to Mosonmagyarovar  

Day 15 - July 24 2016: Bratislava to Mosonmagyarovar 

Got very little sleep due to the night club that doofed away til Hades knows when right next to my hotel bedroom. But, I still got up to see what Bratislava looked like in the morning. Well, it looked and smelled like it had a pretty big night. It was quite sad to see so much rubbish and broken glass all over the place. Such a contrast to the majesty of the old-town's architecture. 

I was in the right frame of mind, and because it was early and none of the touristy things opened until 11 on a Saturday I decided to get on the bike and move on by 8am. Getting out of Bratislava on bike was weirdly difficult. The roads and footpaths are a disaster for the first 8kms but they accurately represent the general condition that the suburban residents seem to live with/in. 

Once I was on the bike track, it was very smooth and back to the comforting company of birds and greenery. 
They've recently completed new parts of the Eurovelo trail in this part of Slovakia and Hungary and the track is amazing. I was often effortlessly cruising at 25kms which is a good 6kms faster than my standard, fully-laden pace. 

Hit Mosonmagyarovar and my accom by 11:30 and dozed whilst watching the footy and then decided to embrace the chance to catch up on some rest and had a real sleep. 

Took a walk into town. Had a feed. A real, old-school town. My kind of place. Going to have a very early night and get an early start. Only 4 days of cycling left  :-)

Day 14 - July 23 2016: Vienna to Bratislava  

Day 14 - July 23 2016: Vienna to Bratislava 

Had a late start. Partly because I had a boozy, late night and partly because the hotel's eft machine wouldn't take my money. Or anyone else's! Poor dudes. Took a good hour and a half to sort out payment... Cool with me, I got free breakfast and extra coffee for the 'inconvenience' :-) 

Nice and flat ride today. But long. Just so you know, it's not all beautiful, idyllic scenery. Rode past plenty of oil refineries along the river and through about 5kms of a senior citizens nudist area... To be fair, bloody good on them for enjoying the world as nature intended ;-) (and boy, were they tanned?!!!) 

Having 2 days off from pushing a heavily ladened bike did my legs some good and I got through the 75ish kms in about 4.5 hours. I stopped to eat twice but it was a stinking hot, breezeless 30c all day and much more bearable on the bike. 

It's Friday night in Bratislava and every 5th bar has a band playing. I've enjoyed being an audience member: particularly liked the acts that clearly love to sing and play. A bit homesick but in less than 3 weeks and I'll be back in Melbs :-) 

Gonna try to get up early and appreciate the old town deserted at day break like the true introvert that I am

Day 13 - July 21 2016: Vienna 

Day 13 - July 21 2016: Vienna -  final day 

Well, if I were the cold that's currently trying to drown its host in snot, I'd be damn impressed, concede defeat & eff off to annoy someone else! (That's how colds work yeah?) 

Had another massive day sightseeing. Set the alarm for 5:30 so I could see what the city was like without anyone around: serene. 

Went to The Belvedere and saw some magnificent art including a bunch of works by Klimt, who really was remarkable. 

Then went to the Schonbrunn Palace and was a bit put out by the opulence. Impressive n'all but really just a reminder that some people feel they're entitled to have everything and screw the 'little' people. Funny thing is, the rich people didn't/don't make beautiful things, they just buy them. 

The zoo bummed me out a little too and made me feel very grateful for having such high quality zoos in Melb that have comparatively wonderful animal spaces. Only the seals looked like they were making the best of a shitty situation today. 

Things picked up again when I got to the last 3 art galleries on the list: mumok, the Leopold museum and Kunsthalle Wien. Saw some compelling modern art, a powerful and diverse Egon Schiele collection and some more Klimt. Most galleries and museums are open til 9 on thurs: winning at tourism! 

Then made a mad dash to Vienna Tower to lookout over the city and back to the film fest to have a beer. They're playing a classy 'the dude from Placebo plays his songs stripped back with some strings' concert... I say it's classy because it's visually excellent and the arrangements are stand-up, but the songs are just plain awful: all of them. Though he does have a mesmerisingly remarkable way of never singing in tune at all but still making it work-ish... Kind of like Robert Smith meets Mick Jagger without the mad hair or chicken dance! 

Anyway, turns out you can still run up the kms on the bike just sightseeing! 

It's after 11pm and I'm still out... Whoa! 

Going to miss Vienna: kind of fell for the place. Bratislava tomorrow

Day 12 - July 20 2016: Vienna 

Day 12 - July 20 2016: Vienna

Day 12: Vienna 

So, I've got a rippa of a cold but wisely packed Codral and nasal spray and, still have a mini bottle of vodka so, I'm feeling pretty nifty actually ;-) 

Rolled out of the accom and spent the whole day 10am-9pm biking from gallery-museum-gallery-museum etc... I bought a Vienna Pass which most major cities have a version of these days. €76 gets you into as many things on the list as you can fit into 48 hours... Got about €200 worth today :-) 

So far, what I've seen at the Albertina, Globe museum, Jewish museum, Kunsthitorisches museum, Mozart House, Museum of Natural History, Papyrus museum, Sigmund Freud Museum and National Library (and a few other places) has been outstanding. (Quite often, the buildings themselves are more impressive than the treasures they hold). And having a bike to get around on is just so, so handy. If you ever go to a big city; hire a bike. Sure beats walkin! 

Tomorrow, there's palaces to see, more galleries and maybe the zoo. 

Finishing the day with an free, un-ticketed outdoor film fest, with a beer in a glass in front of a cathedral :-)

Day 11 - July 19 2016: Krems to Vienna  

Day 11 - July 19 2016: Krems to Vienna 

Today started at about 4 am. I woke up with a sore throat, a sniffle and a headache and there was no going back to sleep for me. At least I got to hit the road early! 

The left knee hasn't improved but it hasn't gotten worse either so, that's good! After about 40kms pretty much everything started to hurt anyway ;-) 

Stopped for lunch in a lovely town, Tulln. Ate some schnitzel and stared at the river wishing my bike was a boat. And not one of those annoying pedal boats you hire at some crowded Mediterranean beach: one with a motor! Eff it, 2 motors!!!! Anyway, I sure have I eaten a ton of schnitzel in the last week... 

The clouds rolled in at about 2pm: a great relief as it was 28c and no tree shade or even a lick of a breeze for relief. No rain, just cloud :-) 

Got to Vienna at about 4. Vienna is huge. I know this because it took another full hour to cycle to my hotel! 

Checked in and proceeded with my now well established ritual of: large glass of sparkling water, large glass of lager, then shower, then 30 mins of power napping/passing out. 

Took the bike out and wandered around the city planning what to do with my next 2 days. Decision = art galleries and museums... and maybe some schnitzel :-)

Day 10 - July 19 2016: Melk to Krems  

Day 10 - July 19 2016: Melk to Krems 

Woke with a needle-prick-twinge in my left knee this morn and no amount of stretching or poking at it seemed to discourage its presence so, I actually said out-loud 'OK you little prick, enjoy the ride' (talking to myself is common but, talking to my ailments is a whole new level of whacky). 

I knew today was only 40kms of mostly flat-ish riding so hoped that if I found a gear with the right amount of pressure I'd be fine, and for most part, I was. 

The sun was cooking even by the time I left at 9am. I rode on the South side of the river in the shade of trees or cliffs for a good part of 3 or so hours. The sun did a bang-up job of lighting up the north side of the river so I could get some great pics. 

I arrived in Krems at about 12:30 and dropped my bags off at the accom and then went to make the single biggest purchase of my trip so far: a new iPhone6s screen. I dropped the phone last night having removed the previous cracked glass cover only the night before! Grrrrrr 

Initially dismayed at the proposed cost, I left the shop and googled screen-fixers in Vienna and Melbourne. The results showed it was going to cost the same amount regardless of where it got fixed. I sheepishly walked back inside and handed over my phone, the wandered aimlessly around Krems for 2 hours as my pride was being extracted through my heart, via my wallet... 

... And I've been doing such a good job of being a tigh-arse and sneaking out food from the in-house breakfasts to have at lunch! 

It's 80 kms to Vienna tomorrow. I'm going to leave by 8 so I can have the whole day to take it slow and give my knees an easy time of it. No doubt I'll be playing Billy Joel's 'Vienna' on the way there... 'Slow down you crazy child, you're so ambitious for a juvenile....' Etc

Day 9 - July 18 2016: Ardagger Markt to Melk  

Day 9 - July 18 2016: Ardagger Markt to Melk 

Got on the road by 9:30 and all was going well until I worked out I'd made an error in plotting my course on the North side of the river which was the highway side with a dinky, little bike lane, and not the cruisy cycle track I'd been expecting. Decided to turn back knowing I'd cost myself an extra 8kms or so and was a bit grumpy with myself until I came across a few small groups of people hampered by the same conundrum. I suggested they also turn back and cross the river as there wouldn't be another chance for 40kms... They were grateful: I was cheered up. 

Another overcast day, but also really windy which was good about 30% of the trip when it was at my back, but really crap when it was in my face! 

The trail was mostly asphalt and on a good day would have been visually spectacular. Most of the towns on this route are on the other side of the river (that's where the major road runs). Plenty of churchy and castley looking buildings to stop and admire from the cyclist side of the river. 

It started to rain heavily about 1:30pm and 4kms from my destination, making me a little grumpy again knowing my earlier mistake had cost me time and thus, soaked me... I'd only just gotten everything dry from 3 days ago! Couldn't be helped :-) 

The town I'm staying in is cute and the home of Melk Abbey, a massive, majestic, renovated museum complex that was totally worth getting soaked for (wished they'd let me take a pic of the library). Although, now the sun is out and it's a glorious evening! 

Saw some of the cyclists I'd advised to turn back and they thanked me and bought me a coffee! 

It's a Sunday and everything apart from a few restaurants is closed. So weird to have a town full of tourists all walking around confused, attempting to open doors on shops and cafes that aren't open! 

Just had a bath and a power nap. Early night I hope

Day 8 - July 17 2016: Linz to Ardagger Markt  

Day 8 - July 17 2016: Linz to Ardagger Markt 

Left late today because my laundry wasn't ready! (And maybe just a little because they still serve breakfast til 12! Aaaand, I may have had two sittings....) 

It was overcast and windy for most of the day with the occasional drop of sun. I was able to keep a steady pace and rode in and out lovely, little towns along the Danube. There must be plenty of folks with plenty of money in this part of the world because the houses are super nice. There are so many huge barns that have been converted into amazing houses... You know, the ones they feature on those UK TV shows that no normal person could ever afford... 

Seeing plenty of other touring cyclists now. Seen lots who have paid crazy dollars to the bike tour companies to do what I'm doing but have their luggage couriers from one town to the next! When I told one guy that I'd ridden from Prague, over the mountains into Linz, he replied 'see, zis is vhy vee call you crayzy ossies!' :-) 

Arrived at my accommodation at 4 and, because it's a Saturday in Europe, all the shops in this little town are closed til Monday. So, I dropped my bags and cycled 8kms to the next town (Grein) to Hofer (the Austrian Aldi) so I could make sure I had chocolate and raspberries :-) 

Got back and promptly passed into a 30min sugar coma :-) 

Good day!

Day 7 - July 16 2016: Linz  

Day 7 - July 16 2016: Linz 

So, today started with coffee, croissants and Nutella and, a great chat with my brother: laughed tons (Thanks bro). Then half-watched the footy and did some internet-ing. 

It's hard to get my head around how different a town can be from Lara... Linz is a very photogenic city... Lara? Not so much(in conventional ways). 

Anyway, I was a little underwhelmed by the Schlossmuseum and Ars Electronica Center (both museums of sorts: and, I was just in NYC where they do good museum) but, then I caught a tram up to Postlingberg which is one of the highest points overlooking the city. There's a beautiful peaceful church there that I sat in by myself for about 30 mins. Also, there's a thing called 'Grottenbahn', which is pretty much Linz's 'Fairy Park' (I HAD to go in! So whacky). 

I walked back down the hill because, why not? Went to the Kunstmuseum which is a kind of modern art gallery, and it made up for the others museums/galleries. 

My amazing, new (dry) shoes walked me an astonishing +26kms today and my feet are fine. In fact, they're better than usual. I've never had a pair of new shoes that didn't cripple me within an hour before. Thanks Jack Wolfskin! 

Because I didn't get many pics in the rain yesterday, I've uploaded some short vids to YouTube if your interested. It's just mostly me cycling slowly uphill in the rain and then one where I'm belting downhill... In the rain. 

Back on the road again tomorrow

Day 6 - July 15 2016: Cesky Krumlov to Linz  

Day 6 - July 15 2016: Cesky Krumlov to Linz

Today I have pride in myself like I've probably never felt before. As an admittedly-bit-of-a-wimpy-'me-who-likes-my-creature-comforts-a-little-too-much'-person, today's monster 70+km, mostly uphill ride was undertaken entirely in the rain: from start to finish. The whole 7ish hours of it. If you know me, you'd know the decision to do this is highly out of character! 

I considered cheating briefly when I woke up and saw it was still pouring. There is a shuttle bus service from Cesky Krimlov to Linz... But, I somehow knew I'd be happier if I gave it a go and crossed the border in the saddle. I've been sent so many great words of encouragement this week and knew that today would be the biggest challenge of the trip. Today I really called on all those cyber-high-fives (especially during the middle 65km!). Great thanks aplenty :-) 

So, I got soaked. I changed clothes 3 times! Even my waterproof stuff succumbed after a few hours! 

I didn't get many pics because my waterproof phone case renders the camera useless. Did get a lot of video though. 

Linz is a snazzy city by the looks. Though I only explored enough to buy some dry shoes and socks, some raspberries, and some bath salts. 

I'm sore all over but have tomorrow off to watch the footy and find a laundromat. 

Passing out now :-)

Day 5 - July 14 2016: Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov  

Day 5 - July 14 2016: Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov 

Short ride today but I found it physically demanding. I'm obviously tired. Can't think why... 

More marvellous countryside and am now starting to see a few other cyclists with luggage. The ones I spoke to were German and boy, they've got some serious gear (as in equipment!): GPSs, dynamo-wheels that charge cell phones etc. Massive gear envy! 

Cesky Krumlov is a tourist Mecca due to its fancy castle and idyllic setting: it looks like something out of a Hans Christian Andersen story. It's nice to hear so many languages and not understand anything. I got here just before the rain set in and it has now been bucketing down for 5 hours. 

I got up to 50kmph going down hill in a 30 zone... That's fast for me! 

For the 2nd day in a row, my bathroom hasn't had a 'fitting' for the shower hose that would enable you to stand up and wash... I made do...

Day 4 - July 13 2016: Pisek to Ceske Budejovice  

Day 4 - July 13 2016: Pisek to Ceske Budejovice 

Not much was taxing about today's ride in terms of terrain: all asphalt and often very smooth. By luck, I planned a route that was undulating but comfortable and mostly side roads. 

Passed many a lake/pond and saw plenty of ducks: my fave food :-) (you haven't had me cook you duck???? It's one of the few things I'm reeeeaaaallllllyyyyy good at). 

I sang a whole bunch today. I purchased a waterproof bluetooth speaker in NYC and have hung it to the front of my bike. I sang along to Kip Winger, Tattletale Saints, Jason Isbell and Paul Simon when I wasn't enjoying the sounds of the countryside and my well-travelled tires. 

It rained lightly for the last 2 hours of the trip which was actually nice because it was 22c. That's a good temp to cycle in, even in the rain. Way more enjoyable than 30c! 

I arrived at my accom at about 3 and they were all in a tis because they hadn't had chance to make up the room because the last guest took the key. As a reward for my patience I've been let loose on a FREE min-bar after a 2 hour stroll around town in the rain... Did I mention that I'm in the birthplace of Budweiser? (The 'good' Czech one not the 'less good' American one). 

Had a bath: my knees are celebrating :-)

Day 3 - July 12 2016: Milin - Zvikov Castle - Pisek.  

Day 3 - July 12 2016: Milin - Zvikov Castle - Pisek.

Fun but hot slog today. It was 28c at 8am and got to 30c pretty quick with the sun out-in-force the whole time. I have a great, dorky, sun-smart hat but failed to pack a long sleeve shirt. Ended up wrapping t-shirts around my arms and securing them with Velcro straps and rubber bands McGyver-style. 

The route I had planned often took me off road and some of the tracks were pretty rough but, I did get to see plenty of wildlife which was generally extremely exiting because I hardly saw anyone on the roads or tracks for much of the day. Toads, frogs, hawks, eagles, and a mink. Also, a deer jumped across the road in front of me. Even got a pic of her :-) 

I am the ONLY person I've seen so far who has any luggage on their bike. Everyone else is lycra-ed up and out for power-riding. Most people I pass chuckle or say something in Czech that has the tone of 'good luck mid-life crisis guy!' It's certainly a fair assessment given the crazy hat and t-shirts wrapped around my arms :-) 

Went for a walk around Pisek and across Europe's oldest bridge. 

Went to Czech Bunnings - no sausage sizzle :-(

Day 2 - July 11 2016: Hotel Hladina to Milin.  

Day 2 - July 11 2016: Hotel Hladina to Milin. 

So, hills. Effin heaps of hills. And mostly up... (See 2nd last pic for gradient). Not enough down (tomorrow is mostly down hill! Yesssss). You can tell the difference between a $700 bike and a $1200 bike when it comes to hills. I have a $700 bike. It's a good bike. But, today I would've loved an extra $500 worth of gears! There are 3 stages of gears on my bike (and at my level of skill): 1: in love. 2: single. 3: heartache. Most of today was spent in 3! Typical! 

Anyway, I saw a huge improvement in my fitness, strength and stamina today in comparison to yesterday: no walking or pushing the bike up hill. 

I was mostly in the middle of nowhere today and it was stunning country side and not much traffic to contend with. *see pics. 

I learned these things: 
1: you can still get burned if you sweat lots and the lotion washes off 
2: Smarties taste great everywhere, no matter what they're called 
3: It's important to celebrate little wins like just getting another 100 metres up a hill. ( I hope I remember to apply this concept to other things when I get home). 
4: Not many things taste better than a sandwich you snuck from the hotel breakfast bar, even though there are signs saying 'don't take food from hotel' ;-) 
5: Normal shorts are WAY more comfortable to ride in than bike shorts (see previous post if confused)...

Easy Way Out

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