There is just so much that happened in the two weeks or so that I spent riding the Euro Velo 6 route along the Danube that I can’t fit it in one post. This route included the cities of Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slavakia; Vienna, Austria; and Passau, Germany. Each unique wonders, but the river itself and the beauty of the landscape in between is the real treasure.
By the way, the Euro Velo routes are an EU project that when complete will criss-cross the continent with bike trails and bike friendly streets. http://www.eurovelo.org if you’re interested. Once I wiped the drool from my face after discovering the Euro Velo maps, I began planning my route loosely around the Danube. My understanding is that this route, the 6, is the closest to completion. And it shows! There were entire days where my touring buddy, Ed, and I rode all day on gorgeous, paved cycling trails.
If this post seems a bit Budapest heavy it is because I fell in love with this city. Something about Hungary and Budapest in particular got under my skin. Of course it’s no surprise! It is where I spent the most time, volunteered and developed some real friendships. This city is a wonderful combination of old and new. You would never know that is was leveled when Germany withdrew during WWII. It has since been rebuilt with careful attention given to historical accuracy.
Full of Art Nouveau buildings, all under eight stories or so, it feels like a more rustic version of Paris. Many buildings are in a state of disrepair and some totally abandoned, but this only adds to the city’s charm. They are all still gorgeous and the wear makes it feel more accesible and lived in.
A city about the size of my hometown of Indianapolis, getting around it is about 1000 times easier. It has every conceivable type of public transport. Ok, reaasonably conceivable.
Life and culture congregate on the Danube and the beautiful bridges are the focal points of both.
One of my first stops was a very sobering introduction to the city’s history. The House of Terror Museum inhabits the building where both the Nazis and Communist regimes’ secret police were headquartered. The tour begins on the top floor, laying out the history, and as you descend each room gets a bit more experiential until you reach the painfully slow elevator ride to the basement, where political prisoners were tortured and executed. It was a powerful experience that I will not be likely to forget.
The city market at full tilt.
Hero’s Square, where every statue sports a magnificent mustache!
And while in Budapest I witnessed history in the making. Budapest has now claimed the record for the highest lego tower in the world!
After a raucous evening of sampling local micro-brew, Ed, fellow cycle tourer, and I skipped town by train. We landed back on the Danube and high tailed it for Bratislava. Passed about a thousand roller-bladers along a stretch of paved trail atop a levy that went on and on. As we neared the city we passed soviet-era apartment block after apartment block arriving in a gorgeous old town center just in time for the skies to open up. Camping now out of the question, we found an excellent little hostel with restaurant and bar on thee ground floor a few steps down from street level.
Treated to an incredible jazz set at the bar of Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel.
There was just enough time to get a feel for the city before heading back out and we only saw what we could from atop our bikes. I can’t begin to do it justice, but did get a feel for a city with a thriving art and music scence, a lot of interesting history and a very active population. Would have enjoyed spending more time, but the trail was calling.