26 June 2011
Vienna, Austria – Bratislava, Slovakia
After two solid days in Vienna it was time to move on again. New arrivals to the group included two South Africans (Mieke and PC), Paul from the USA (and whom I had met previously on Tour d’Afrique), Mark from Australia and Rudolf from Canada. We left on a group ride to the outskirts of the city and then ambled along, heading for the Austrian/Slovakian border.
John’s legs were much improved and I think he was relieved to be back on the bike again. The two of us set a comfortable pace and from time to time cycled with Mika and PC. After a quick coffee break we arrived at the border. Border crossings in Europe are rather unremarkable and you need to be quite alert to spot the tiny sign high up on a pole. 4 km later we arrived at Bratislava and found accommodation in a boathouse. I think we were all rather surprised at our unusual accommodation. It was not only unusual, but also very comfortable with large and spacious rooms.
I wondered around Bratislava with Marion and Barry and we marvelled at our new environment; a short bike ride hads brought us to a whole new culture, language and architecture. We walked up to the castle and explored all the nooks and crannies the old town had to offer. Dinner was on the boat and the food was once again excellent.
After supper we took a walk into town, had a glass of red wine compliments of PC, then back to the boat for an early night.
29 June 2011
Bratislava, Slovakia – Komarom, Hungary
It was time to leave our boathouse and we all cycled together out of Bratislava. Soon the group split up, with Chris, Francois, Michelle and Jacky taking the lead. Barry, Alice, John and Marion were on close pursuit followed by Stirling, David and Edna. The rest of us ambled along in our own good old time. I mostly cycled with my fellow countrymen, Mieke and PC. Like good South Africans we had to stop and sample the local brew along the way.
At Komarom we reached yet another border crossing, this time even more inconspicuous than before. We crossed from Slovakia into Hungary and so came to an end my trip with Orient Express as I would be leaving the group in Budapest.
It turned out to be Mieke’s birthday, so that evening we did not only have cake, but also consumed a rather large amount of red wine. Francois tried his best to teach us a few words in French but eventually gave up. After reassuring him that “hou poephol hou” is actually a very formal term of greeting in South Africa, we eventually retired to our tents.