It is now Thursday evening and we are two days into Slovakia outside Bratislava. (In fact we are in Hungary having nipped just across the river/border because there was no campsite on the Slovakian side.) And we must say we are mighty impressed!
Before leaving Vienna Stephen was feeling a little nervous because we were heading for a “different” country but as you may have seen from the previous post re Bratislava we had a great introduction to the country and it hasn’t disappointed since.
To leave Bratislava we had to make our way back to the south bank which was much quicker than going the other way as we had got our bearings. Once across the river the cycle path followed the dyke out of the city and, judging by the number of cafes en route, is a popular recreational route for the Bratislavans. For a while a busy road kept us company but soon it found somewhere else to go and peace was restored.
Gradually the river widened into a reservoir thanks to the dam/power station at Gabčíkovo where we were aiming to spend the night. This scheme was agreed by the governments of Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the Communist era. After the revolutions of 1989, opposition on environmental grounds increased and Hungary withdrew from the project but Slovakia pressed ahead and in 1992 diverted most of the river’s water into the reservoir. This reservoir is all in Slovakia along with a thin sliver of land (which the cycle route follows) as the border runs along what appears to be the old route of the river.
The combination of a seemingly dead straight, well surfaced path along the dyke and a tailwind meant that we made excellent time but there was little respite from the sun beating down from a cloudless sky. We reached Gabčíkovo at about 2pm and, after a bit of thrashing around, found a pension at which to stay at the very reasonable price of €30.
We both thought we would take the opportunity to test in the cool of the room and catch up on podcasts. But we were both soon snoozing!
By 5 the worst of the heat had
passed and we wandered out for an ice cream. Budget constraints (partly due to a sixth consecutive night in a hotel) meant that dinner was a “homemade” salami salad from the local Tesco (!) but it was all we needed on such a warm day.
Thursday promised to be even warmer so we tried to set off early. This was only partly successful as we were under way at about 8.45.
The route divided into thirds. Initially we were on a paved path along the top of the dyke and we made good time even though the wind had changed direction in the night and was now slowing us down rather than pushing us along.
After about 20 km the route left the river and went along quiet country roads which gave us a better view of the countryside. It was very rural and reminded us (at least in “feel”) very much of our journey along the Baltic coast of Poland 4 or 5 years ago. It was perhaps “poor? in comparison to the UK but it felt as though it was on the “up”.
In the last village before we left the road Stephen was “accosted” by a lady on a bike offering drink and food (in German). She was quite insistent and so he mumbled (in very basic German) that we would like a drink of water. Her house was not far away and soon we had a plate of homemade cherry cake, homemade lemonade, two coffees and a bottle of water in front of us while the lady showed us her collection of postcards from previous guests in her home (she also offered overnight accommodation) from around the world. We gave her our business card with the blog address and Twitter handle which seemed to please her!
Leaving her we were back onto the dyke but it was a gravel surface which slowed things down (particularly with the headwind). As we moved into the real heat of the afternoon with no shade Christine really began to suffer. Thankfully by then we were nearing our destination of the twin towns of Komarno (Slovakia) and Komarom (Hungary).
Crossing the river/border, a quick diversion to the money machine at the local Tesco (!) meant we had the necessary florints (it was so much easer in Slovakia where they use the euro) and we were quickly at the campsite. (Which has free WiFi! Germany take note!)