Unlike others who rented bikes from Vienna, I wanted to take my own touring bike with me. The first challenge was obviously getting the bike into the plane. At airport I managed to pack my bike into a cardboard box just two minutes before check-in closed. Since I was travelling with a low-cost airline with hand-baggage only, I put all my bike bags into the bike box. Pedals had to be removed, handlebar turned and tires deflated. Additionally, I had to remove the front wheel since the bike would not have otherwise fitted into the box.
20th September 2012 Vienna
The plane landed in Vienna at midday. I would have preferred a straight flight since every time a bike is handled at the airport it might be damaged. However, clearly the cheapest flight to Vienna was via Riga. Regardless of that, everything went well and I was able to ride my bike out of the airport. Finding a bike path to Vienna center was a harder task. After cycling half an hour along a road with moderate traffic I decided to take a train as there was a station by the road. Additionally, I had catched a cold just before the trip so I had to take it easy. After I arrived at the center, I cycled to the hostel where my cycling companions already were.
|Cycling paths in Vienna are well designed.|
21st September 2012 Vienna-Bratislava
|Cycling paths near Südtiroler platz.|
22nd September 2012 Bratislava-Győr
|Danube bike trail just south of Bratislava.|
|The village of Bezenye 30 kilometers south of Bratislava.|
23rd September 2012 Győr-Komárno
The goal of the day was to get back to the Slovakian side of the Danube, to Komárno. During the day we passed villages and fields. Roads were worse than before and there were less cycling paths. However, traffic was light. We cycled over the hilly fields and between the huge, slowly rotating rotors of the numerous wind turbines.
|The roads were not as good as the views.|
|Following other cyclists on a sandy path.|
24th September 2012 Komárno-Esztergom
|Cycling into a headwind on a main road.|
Regardless of the backwind, it did not feel much easier since we had to cycle uphill until we reached the village of Dunaszentmiklós, where we stopped for lunch. Although, due to the language barrier, we did not exactly get what we ordered, we were soon ready to tackle the remaining 36 kilometers. The highest place during our whole trip, about 300 meters above sea level, was the Hilltop-Neszmély vineyard a couple of kilometers north of Dunaszentmiklós. From there we could see our destination, the city of Esztergom. Descent was fast: my ears were partly blocked and the brakes were hot to touch. We arrived at the bank of Danube and continued along a main road with moderate traffic. Luckily there was a cycle path after the town of Lábatlan. Mountains were visible on the horizon as we crossed the fields and villages by the Danube. Finally we arrived at a pension in Esztergom where we quickly met a Brazilian cyclist who had been cycling all the way from Switzerland. In the evening we went to a nearby restaurant, called Csulok Csarda, that turned out to be the best during our trip.
|View over a vineyard with Esztergom on the horizon.|
25th September 2012 Esztergom-Budapest
|Cycling on the northern bank the Danube.|
|Crossing the Danube in Vác.|
From the town of Nagymaros, we could see the Visegrád castle on top of a high hill. We cycled along bikeways until we reached the city of Vác, where we crossed the Danube again, this time with a real ferry. The fee was about the same as previously. We were getting hungry, but luckily a friendly local from the village of Tahitótfalu guided us to a restaurant there. After lunch we crossed the side channel of Danube, this time using a bridge. A 15 kilometer stretch of bikeway through green areas followed. As we crossed the border of Budapest more built-up areas started to appear. We cycled a few kilometers behind middle-aged German speaking touring cyclists. Soon we arrived at the center where our accomodation was situated. It was a private penthouse with great views over the city.
26th - 27th September 2012 Budapest
|A view from our apartment.|
|Dismantled bike and bags in a box.|
|Arriving at the foggy Helsinki-Vantaa airport.|
All in all, the whole trip was quite relaxing compared to my usual bike travels that had involved lots of sweat, rain, wind and mental fighting — it felt almost like a holiday!