We left the Spanish coastline, making our way inland towards Pamplona. The map showed nothing but mountains all around us so we were expecting hellish inclines. Instead the inclines never appeared as the road simply followed the river, weaving between the hills, leaving perfectly flat riding for us to enjoy.
Riding in the south of England is tricky as you can either live dangerously on busy A roads or spend hours detouring to avoid them. Traversing North/South is easy as you can follow quiet B roads but as soon as you try to cut vertically across the country the roads turn into a mess of dirt tracks, farm driveways and dead ends. Our destination was Land’s End, England’s southwestward point, situated at the very end of Cornwall and used as a traditional cycling end point.
Heading to the west coast of England our next pit stop was Malmesbury.
For our last day together in Rome our good friends John and Jess had organised one last jaunt which involved my absolute favourite subject in any country: Food. A walking food tour of Roman specialities to be exact.
Our last days in Dubrovnik were slow and lazy, making the most of the beach weather. We would usually start the day with tea which always came with honey and lemon instead of milk.
Cycling in Croatia is hugging the white line with no shoulder, sweat dripping down your nose, climbing hills and getting cramps in your fingers from grabbing the breaks. It also has an incredible landscape, rocky and mountainous, with tiny bays, fishing villages, and gorgeous beaches one after the other filled with restaurants serving freshly grilled seafood.
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.
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.
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.
Vienna! Grand sophisticated imperial Vienna, the Austrian capital and the ‘City of Dreams’. We couldn’t wait to get there. We rode 92km straight from Krem in one day along the Danube river. As soon as we got in we set up camp, walked to the nearest pizzeria and crashed out exhausted.
Riding is not the best when you’re hung over. I blame the schnapps. Or it could have been the homemade walnut liqueur. Not to mention the countless beers and wine spritzers we had.
We left Český Krumlov with mixed feelings. The disney-like town was to be our last major stop before saying farewell the Czech Republic. Despite being beautiful it was sadly overrun by the tourism industry. Through a drizzle of rain we headed south to the border, determined not to let the mountains ahead stop us from reaching the Austrian city of Linz some 70kms away.
We rolled into Frankfurt at 3pm with about 70km under our belts and no accommodation organised. It is a massive city, it would be great to stay a few days and sightsee, surely we would have a plethora of hotels to choose from, right?