Sh*t what is this! The thought of landing at a brand new airport in Bratislava was not part of my plan to see the commie east. Anyway plans had gone ahead since January this year to see what was behind the old Iron Curtain...
Sharon and I set out on the 5th of August flying from Alicante to Bratislava in Slovakia, since it was the closest to Vienna, where our rental bike waited for us. We arrived of course late since Ryanair missed the take off slot from Alicante so about 21.00 hours we arrived in the centre of Bratislava, checked in to the Hotel Danubia (small but brand new business hotel) a couple of hundred metres from the old city centre.
Well as soon we had gotten out of our stinky clothes we decided to walk the back streets of the city centre to get a bite to eat, just after leaving the hotel two guys came up behind us and said something in Slovak . Sh*t what now !!!!?? Anyway they disappeared into the shadows after I dispensed “don't speak slovak mate”(in german and in english to be on the safe side). Phew , I didn't want to get mugged on the first night in Eastern europe.
We found one restaurant that was closing early because of fear that the serbian football hooligans would create havoc in the city centre after a game against the slovaks. We found another restaurant where we had a lovely meal for two paying about 6 euros a head including a couple of pints of beer each (ok I had the couple of pints not Sharon). Then hurried back to the hotel before Serbian hell broke loose.
After a great nights sleep we decided to investigate our surroundings. In the back alley where we were approached by the two slovaks the night before a F*cking TESCOS 4 storey supermarket was placed. TESCOS WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!
Any way at midday we headed to the bus station which luckily looked like something out of a James Bond film in the 80's run down and grey with people selling fruit and stuff in the street in front . On the bus 7 euros each and 1 hours ride to Vienna.
Vienna and Bratislava are the closest neighbouring capitals in Europe, only 64 kms apart. We found our hotel in Vienna and spent the afternoon walking around then on to an underground live music bar in the evening after having had Wienerschnitzel and beer of course.
Waking up early scouting for the bike to be delivered.......10 am a thundering noise is heard between the old buildings...a white KTM 990 Adventure with Acrapovic cans and panniers rolls up outside the hotel. After a quick briefing with Alex, the owner of the bike rental company, we set off. How the hell do you get out of Vienna with tram lines and bloody cobble stones.
Half an hour later on the road to Salburg and the slovenian border, I noticed the fuel light coming on “b#llocks” and it started to p#ss down with rain. Oh well this will end soon ......the KTM on the nobbly tyres behaved great even though the front went suspiciously light a couple of times at more than 110 kms per hour. After 4 hours in the rain and with the heated grips on max the temperature in the Austrian hillside dropped to 10 degrees so we had to stop and thaw out. Had lunch of wienerschnitzel of course and set off again in the rain.
Found outside Graz an industrial estate and a shopping centre where we bought t-shirts and trousers since our kevlar jeans were beyond soaked. Passed the slovenien border and the downpour stopped and the roads turned into gorgeus countryside rolling hill B-roads, perfect for the KTM. We decided to stop in Maribor, the second largest town in slovenia, but after having met the locals and made inquires about lodging we realized it was a sh#thole and continued another a couple of hours into Croacia.
The borders between Croacia and Slovenia are still controlled due to political arguing about...borders. We managed to get a stamp in the passport by the bearded customs officer and were waved on. We had got to Zagreb at 20.00 hours still soaked but really happy about our first eventful day on the bike. We managed to find a hotel in 70's James Bond KGB style with a stern KGB officer lady on reception who did not know how to smile especially since I haggled on the price.
We got out of our soaked gear and into our dry clothes and walked down another back alley from the hotel to a Pub....yes the area looked rough and we were apprehensive to say the least. We found the pub which was also part of a microbrewery...and yes I tried all their beers that night.
Was spent sightseeing in Zagreb and a romantic dinner outside the cathedral in the evening for our wedding anniversary.
We woke up early and walked to a newly opened Bikers bar in Zagreb, unfortunately I did not have t-shirt to trade for theirs but they got the Bikers España businesscard. No snacks in the bar but beer and Buell shop, bikers wash, pooltables and garage.
In the afternoon we headed north under the heat of the sun passing by meadows and saw falcons, hawks and deer in the rolling landscape - beautiful. We arrived at the Hungarian border after a couple of hours and slipped through the hungarian customs. We made our way on B roads up to Balaton lake, the largest sweetwater lake in Europe, then on to the town of Hewiz which has got a sulphur type spa lake and stayed the night in the witches cauldron hotel priced at 28 euros per room per night. In the evening Sharon had catfish goulsch and I had deer and beer.
In the early morning we walked to the stinky...sorry healthy lake and swam in it for a couple of hours then back to the hotel to dive in the shower and continue our journey along the Balaton lake. What views! I am telling you, old castles, villages and B roads in perfect harmony. We stopped to eat at a peninsula by the lake with magnificent views. By late afternoon we were rolling into the busy city of Budapest. Thank God for having a bike .........found a tourist office close to another TESCOS !!!!!! and they sorted us out with a old style hotel in the city of Buda. BudaPest is actually two cities called by one name divided by the Danube. We visited a friend in the evening and had a lovely dinner with local wine instead of beer.
Sightseeing in Budapest and a little boat trip on the Danube.
On the road again with glorious sunshine hitting B roads over the border back into eastern part of Slovakia. Finally had I found the old eastern block? Tatras, Wartburgs and old Skodas, ladies sitting by the road selling their crops. We ended up in the old town of Nitra in the evening where virtually no one spoke english or german EXCELLENT!!!!! Found a lovely renovated hotel for 50 euros per night with its own restaurant and old winding stairs. We went for an evening mini train tour around the town with the guide language in slovak only, we laughed so much so we almost p#ssed ourselves. Beautiful town and lovely people.
On the KTM riding B roads to Czech republic to the town of Brno, yes the same weekend as the GP racing. But before leaving Slovakia we stopped by a river cafe had some local cordial and communist cola. Brno, what a sh#t hole.
We had a quick late lunch and headed to the race track and ......got lost. Any way we found the main entrance packed with bikers from all over Europe. So the plan was to buy a t-shirt however all the stands where they sold t-shirts were on the inside. As luck would have it I found half a Friday training ticket and with Sharons female charm she convinced the filthy KGB guards to let her in since she had lost the other part of the ticket....RESULT !! We realized that there was nowhere available to stay so we continued South to the Northern border of Austria and ended up finally back in Vienna late in the evening.
Vienna sightseeing with an Austrian biker we had met on the plane and handing back the KTM to the owner....... later on a river boat to Bratislava from the city centre of Vienna.
Sightseeing in Bratislava and flight home in the evening.
Fantastic trip apart from the wooden plank of a seat on the KTM.......