The Forest to the Sea

Cycling Southward

Days seem to be split into good and bad halves as we head southwards from Slovakia to Hungary and onto the Balkan states of Croatia and Serbia.

We had a hell of a morning getting out of Gabcíkovo where all of us realized the path was no longer sign posted. I ended up completely off of the route maps taking a highway into Komárno while Tom and Woody got lost, backtracked and did for more kilometers than necessary. Somehow luck struck when we both got to our lunch destination at the same time and Tom and Woody yelled out “Anton!” from atop a bridge seconds before I went under it mistakenly.

Werner tagged along with us the latter half of that day while we took a shit off-road path to see a lackluster Roman ruin which was nothing more than a stone foundation, leaving little trace of the battle fortress that had once existed. The day really started sizzling and we think we may have driven a badger-bear nutty with our sweaty stench drifting ahead of us as some massive creature had a hole torn in its side and died teeth and claws bared in its death pose.

The basilica in Esztergom, Hungary, just on the other side of the Danube from Slovakia, turned out to be a huge carrot as we rode the last bit of a tiring day into our fourth country. Tom showed off his Italian skills as he said yes to knowing the language in order to get to our hostel. He doesn’t know the language but got the directions right.

The ride into Budapest was very pretty with forested hillsides slipping into the river. The rain started falling as we cruised into the city which made our day a little less enjoyable. I got us out of an accommodation-less stressful situation by tapping into my human GPS skills and finding the same hostel that Tom and I stayed in two and a half years ago which just happened to have three beds available. We made the most of one of Europe’s coolest cities by lounging in hot baths and drinking in the very cool Szimpla ruin bar while still finding time to check out the palaces, cathedrals, basilicas, synagogues and parliament.

Getting out of Budapest was a pain. We tried taking an unpaved route that we thought would be a short cut. It turned out to be about 10 kilometers of grassy path on top of a dike which included two young hooligans harassing us yelling and swinging their arms and rows of stone pillars with circles that looked like the security fence that keeps the smoke monster out in ‘Lost.’ I wondered whether we were on the outside or inside and figured the former based on the villages on the inside. We ended up getting back on the road and rocked the latter half of the day to Kolocsa where we chilled out alone for a bit and then had one of our best meals at a super cool beer garden shaped like a boat.

I learned a shitty lesson today. Don’t mess with something if it’s working alright already. I changed my brake pads for my disc brakes and spent most of the day trying to align them unsuccessfully, meaning I rode the 156 km today with my brakes slightly engaged. I really put us behind our normal pace and delayed our arrival in the very happening Osijek, Croatia to 19:00, making this our longest or second longest day of cycling. We made it though and push on tomorrow with a short 120 km after 306 in the last couple days. We’ll enjoy our rest in our killer apartment of accommodation with leather couches and flat-screen TVs to boot! Here’s a phone photo of Osijek’s cathedral.

Ezra Anton

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Osijek, Croatia

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