July 12, 2003

Jane's first entry

I finally found a way to communicate to you---since we left Vienna on
Wednesday evening, we haven't been able to make any phone calls or write
emails. Of course, since we have been mostly in little towns or else trying
to find a place to camp before it gets dark. It has been a real adventure the
past three days.

I finally found a way to communicate to you---since we left Vienna on
Wednesday evening, we haven't been able to make any phone calls or write
emails. Of course, since we have been mostly in little towns or else trying
to find a place to camp before it gets dark. It has been a real adventure the
past three days. It seems like more than three days since we left the
comforts of easy communication. Yes, i now consider speaking German to
be "easy communication"! At least compared to Slovak or Hungarian:) It's
funny that now when Rusl and I come across a person who speaks German
(usually as their second language), we are
relieved. Oh, I should begin from Vienna and see how far i get.
By the way, i'm writing from an internet cafe in Gyor, Hungary, so I might
ramble and i won't proofread, and i might just go into lower case like this
because it is quicker for me:)

OK, so we got on the train from Munchen in the early afternoon on Tuesday. We
had to make a train change in Salyburg, and for the first time on this trip
we did not make the change on time! There was plenty of time in between the
trains, more than half an hour, but the problem was the train we were
supposed to hop onto arrived only about a minute before it left again. We
couldn't find the bike car, so we asked some officials. They said to go to
the other end of the train, so we raced to the other end and when we got
there a man told us we had to go back to the OTHER end! And as he said this
he hopped onto the train and the train started moving. Some confusion. But,
there was luckily another train leaving for Vienna 45 minutes later, so we
got on it. Anyways, it was not a big deal, even if we had to stay over night
in beautiful Salzburg:)

Vienna was very beautiful, as i remember it too, and we explored on Wednesday
until about 5 pm. Johnny: We had a kebob for the first time, and they had
some yummy falafels as a substitute for meat, so it wasn't just bread with
lettuce and tomato for me! Rusl had the meat kind, and it was just like you
said, a mixture of meat twirling around on a stick. Back to Tuesday
evening...We found a place to camp (wild, not at a campground) on the Donau
Insel (some friends of Sepp's who live in Vienna tipped us off about the
possibility of camping on the long narrow island in the Donau River, right in
Vienna). It was dark (as it often seems to be when we look for a place to
camp!) when we started to search for a spot to put our tent that wouldn't be
so visible. We found a place in a little forest right in between two bike
paths. It turned out to be a mysterious forest, with spiders everwhere, the
underbrush had been cleared, there was a little hut with old corn cobs that
made it look like someone had kept chickens there some time ago (maybe
someone who was living in this forest). Arriving at this place in the dark,
of course made it even scarier than it was in the light. We pitched the tent,
and spoke in whispers, and heard noises in the night, but made it till the
Rusl is typing on the computer next to me and I see that he is ahead of me in
the story, and has written about this part. We've decided that i should jump
ahead of him and write about things he hasn't...
(although i love the parts about Slovakia, and would like to write about them
too, but i think Rusl is doing a good job describing it)

NOTE TO MUM AND DAD: I didn't have the phone number to do the collect call
thing in Slovakia, and it's different from in Czech, so that's also why i
haven't been able to call until now.

So now i'm gonna jump to friday morning (yesterday morning), when we were
still in Slovakia.

Hope it's not too confusing. It doesn't really matter if you don't get the

We woke up pretty early because we knew there were things to do (finding a
bike shop in Samarin that sold shifter cables,fixing my bike, and also
getting more supplies. Ah, supplies supplies supplies, even what seems like
a simple task like buying groceries is an adventure for us because of the
language! Also, it has been so hot that things will go bad very fast in the
bottom of my panier (like the zuccinni and carrots i discovered last night
which were extremely stinky with white fuzz and oozing yellow and green goo,
and i only bought them three days earlier). SOooo, back to the point: we are
often buying groceries.

We rode along the flat flat flat nice Donau Radweg to Samarin, and were
pretty confused until we found a woman riding her bicycle. We asked her, with
hands and face and maybe some German too, where a bike shop might be. She was
very nice and took us to the shop, riding her bike with us until we got
there. It turned out great and we bought a shifter cable. We also bought food
and went to the gas station to fill up our stove canister with regular
gasoline. The stove is working well, by the way, even on regular auto
gasoline (we couldn't fine white gas anywhere)---the instructions say it can
use regular gasoline too.

Then we rode to a nearby park and Rusl fixed my bike for me, YAYYY! IT sure
made a difference. I'd been riding the whole trip with the cable breaking
thread by thread (or so i imagine:), which made it so irritating to ride,
always slipping and making it hard to know how much pressure i could put on
the pedals before it jumped. And adjustments to the derailleur not working
because it was the steadily-deteriorating cable that was causing the
problems. After that, the riding was so wonderful, effortless, and i thought
nothing could make me grumpy on this trip anymore:)...

I need to speed up a bit in my story, because we've been here for almost two
hours (but it doesn't cost much at all, a dollar an hour). We need to figure
out our campsite for tonight.

After Samarin, we continued on the Donau Radweg. We swam in the Donau River
when we stopped for lunch. It was so nice, refreshing cool water, the current
was not strong at all because it was getting close to the dam (at that point
it was a reservoir i guess). We swam twice, since it was a very hot day (the
usual in the Donau Valley says the book).

I should mention the bruises, mosquito bites, horsefly bites, and layers of
dirt, sweat, and sunscreen on my skin! For SOME reason i've gotten more cuts
and bruises on my legs than usual---scraping through bushes looking for a
tenting spot, and also just being with my bike for so many hours a day. The
pedals on my bike have attacked my ankle and shin a few times. I'm OK, just
have a few bandaids. I don't know if rusl mentioned the horseflies, but i
will say: they are nasty! We've both encountered them a few times, and it
hurts at first, then becomes a big itch. Bugs bugs lots of bugs. No more
ticks though since that day near Frankfurt, thank goodness. Also nice bugs
that don't bother us, like dragonflies, butterflies, grasshoppers, ladybugs,

So, we rode a fair amount on friday, considering the work on the bicycle
earlier in the day, and the swimming. 73 km, starting after 2 pm, and
including a long lunch and swimming break around 3 pm.
We decided to cross the river and go into Hungary (we at least have a little
Hungarian-English dictionary. We have no book for Slovak). It is so fun to
just look at the map and say, "Yes, Gyor looks like a good place, let's go
there." We are enjoying this ride a lot, and aren't in any hurry to get to

We saw cargo ships travelling up and down the Donau, coming from different
countries, heading to different countries. The Donau must be a major trade
route for east and west countries. We got to see the big dam and ships going
into the locks (several ships fit into the lock!). The ships aren't huge like
the ones in vAncouver. They are biggish but not huge:). It was neat to see
them up close, and since we've been riding along the river this whole time
we've seen a bunch. We haven't met people who live on this river like you
read about, but it seems they could be just around the corner. It's a
wonderful river, and the people who live in the villages along it are usually
so friendly. I'm glad we picked this route.

We went over the Slovak-Hungary border friday evening---they glanced at our
passports and let us through (we used the Canadian ones this time). The last
20 km into Gyor was hard because we were hungry and tired from the sun a bit.
We went along some gravel parts too. The Donau Radweg has spoiled us, with
its flat smooth perfect path. As we rode through little Hungarian towns,
people waved at us and said hello.
So, we got into Gyor as it was getting dark,PLANNING on finding the campsite
that was on the map. THEN...Russell's spoke broke and his freewheel (I think)
started making a loud noise, right near the town square. A long hot day, and
now this? We decided to try to find a cheap penzione or hostel to sleep in. I
went up to two women and discovered one of them spoke some english. They told
us about a "panzio" and gave us directions with a map. We arrived there after
10 pm, rang the bell, it was still open, the lady Anne helped us inside. It
turned out to cost about 20 Euros each (because it was actually quite a fancy
place, with a sitting room, decorative moulding on the ceilings, pretty
little chairs, a fancy staircase...). She led us to our room and i was going
to ask her where the showers were, but didn't need to because our room had
its own bathroom! This was very luxurious for us. Our room was decorated with
pretty curtains and two sofa chairs, and had a small fridge too. We flopped
down, ahhhh.
It reminded us of Fawlty Towers.
We still had to have dinner, so we left the panzio around 11 pm in search of
something to eat. We found there were lots of places still open, and many
people were walking along the streets, out on a warm summer friday night. We
found a restaurant pretty quickkly because it was so late and we were
starving. We ate Hungarian food, which was yummy (i was glad to find
something on the menu that had no meat and wasn't a salad---some places don't
have much vegetarian food). Most of the choices were still meat, so Rusl had
a big selection.

I'm going to stop here, because Rusl is writing about this morning. That
pretty much catches you up with us.

ANDREA: Sepp and the family are really looking forward to seeing you and
meeting Anil:)

Posted by jane at July 12, 2003 03:59 PM

Hi Jane and Russel,
Finally got a chance to read your postings again - I still have one by Russel to read. I have been pretty busy lately! Your adventure sounds very exciting, and it is fun to read what you are up to. Anil and I are really looking forward to our trip as well!!

Posted by: Andrea on July 15, 2003 02:42 AM
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