We thought we would share some updates on how some of our gear is holding up (bikes, tent, humans) along with some encounters with nature and statistics on the trip to date.
Croatia in summer means an enormous array of fresh produce ready for the picking. I’m totally crazy for summer fruit. In our family fruit reigns as dessert with big bowls of fruit salad, berries and cream, stewed plums or peaches with ice cream or big inviting fruit bowls front and center in the fridge. Also in Australia summer fruit means Christmas and with that holidaaaays. So imagine my excitement when we started riding past cherry, apricot and fig trees laden with heavy branches! It felt like Christmas had come early.
Have you ever seen a more eclectic mix of cars in one spot? This photo of an instant car collection or giant money pit was taken at a mechanics shop on the Croatian coast near the town of Trogir.
Croatia was our stopover to extend our Schengen visa. Now with unlimited time (well, up to three months) and long sunny days we slowed our cycling right down. Basically we would ride 30-50km as early as we could before the heat set in and stopped with long muti-day rests in-between. The Croatian coastline is filled with beautiful inlets and marinas, tiny beaches, old stone towns and hundreds of campsites and apartments. The difficulty now was deciding which gorgeous spot we should stay at!
As soon as we began riding in Croatia everyone seemed to mention Plitvice as a must see. From Croatian friends back home to apartment hosts to shopkeepers, all fingers seemed to be pointing us straight to that direction. But nothing could have prepared us for the incredible natural wonder that is Plitvice.
Arriving in Zagreb, Croatia’s northwestern capital and transport hub, we were greeted with the news that no further trains within Croatia would take bicycles. The trains either had no luggage compartments or they switched to buses which they refused to give us a ticket for. We would have to ride from here on in.
Standing at the international counter in Budapest’s Central Station we met with an interesting hiccup. Most people take a direct train to Croatia, arriving a few hours later with barely a delay. Most people do not have loaded touring bikes. And the two daily trains from Budapest, Hungary to neighbouring Croatia did not have bike or luggage carriages.
Hurry up and grab your togs, towel and thongs! Ready? Great! Because no visit to Budapest is complete without a visit to one of it’s many thermal bathhouses.
After our epic 125km day of riding we spent the next few days holed up in our AirBnB apartment doing not much more than small, knee-creaking ventures out for groceries and gelato. We cooked dinners in our tiny galley kitchen, caught up on Game of Thrones and basically moved as little as possible. After about three days of that we promised that we would make an effort go out and see the city. Budapest was waiting for us. And she was glorious.
Throughout our time bike touring across Europe we could clearly see how cycle tourism has created successful businesses and kept small towns thriving. The Danube path between Linz and Vienna is on both sides of the river to combat the large numbers of cyclists. In quite a few sections we could see bars, grills, penzions, hotels and bike friendly signage. Countries are now rolling out kilometer after kilometer of perfect cycleways to encourage this type of tourism.
Leaving Vienna we resumed our adventure heading east towards Budapest. To reach the Hungarian border we would be crossing through parts of Slovakia, a former member of the Eastern Block.