Following the Danube to Bratislava

With Mariaje crossing into Austria

Soon after the last post I met my friends Iñaki and Mariaje and their son Eñaut.  We’ve known each other since the mid seventees.  We don’t see each other often,  them being in the Basque country and me in London,   but when we do it is like if we had been together the day before. I love it when it is like that.

It was a treat being with them.  I got a holiday from the panniers which allowed us to do longer distances and have time for talking,  sightseeing,  cake eating,  swimming, more talking,  drinking AND they brought all sort of Spanish delicacies that were eagerly consumed. We also discovered that cheesecake is as effective as energy bars and way more enjoyable. 

Pity black water

I had some time off the bike in rural Austria and in Vienna with some good friends of Iñaki and Mariaje. They took us to really special places – a lake with pity black water and an old fashion spa where you swam in mineral water that gets bottled in the plant next door! Places I would not have been able to find on my own. 

We parted this morning and for a bit I felt a bit lost and lonely and now here I am sitting in a hostel bed in Bratislava.

At the old Iron Curtain

I can’t believe I’ve made it to Eastern Europe.  This afternoon I crossed the point where the heavily garded Iron Curtain was. Now it is just a rusting blue gate that is always open.  From the road in Austria you can see Bratislava with its castle on top of the hill and I wondered what it must have been like for people in both sides so close to one another and at the same time so far.

Bratislava from the Castle

I went wondering around Bratislava this evening.  The old town and the castle are beautiful.  The place is full of cafes with people sitting outside trying to cool down,  not surprising as it has been very very hot,  over 40 centigrade at lunchtime.  Luckily I’m heading for the Tatra mountains to do some walking with a friend from Bristol who is coming out to meet me.  Lucky me!

16 thoughts on “Following the Danube to Bratislava”

  1. You’re looking good Blanca – obviously thriving on all the cycling! I am loving reading the blog it makes me feel connected to you and the rest of us following you. You might be a long way from us but you carry us with you ( no wonder it feels tough at times eh?) Enjoy Eastern Europe!

    1. Hi Maureen. You’re often I my thoughts. I visited some farms in Austria with my friends, no sheep though but lots of cattle. Hope all OK with you and yours. Xx

  2. It all sounds amazing and please don’t feel lonely as you have so many friends with you in spirit. Bodies arriving soon!
    Very much love. (The call of remote Yorkshire draws this intrepid traveler to the wilds of kings cross and beyond)

  3. Lovely to hear that you’ve reached your next milestone. Just don’t refer say Eastern Europe to the locals as they will quickly correct you! We discovered this when living in Bratislava for a year…they see themselves as Central Europeans as there is a lot more of Europe (geographically if not politically) to the east. Interesting how one’s location affects perspective.

    If you have time, visit Petrzalka – the huge estate of ‘panelak’ blocks of flats across the Danube built in the Communist era. We used to live there and one fascinating part, for us, was the separate buildings near each block supplying the heating. But you won’t notice them in action if it’s 40 degrees C…

    Enjoy the Tatras – they are lovely.

    1. Thanks for the tip. This trip is highlighting how little I know. Tomorrow I’ll go to Petrzalka. I’ll look out for the heating system. You must’ve had a really interesting time. Can’t wait to be in the mountains!

  4. Oh wow!!!!
    I was in Bratislava about 40 years ago… Scary dark and creepy at the time…. Getting behind the curtain was pretty intimidating in those days. Open gates seem surreal.
    Have good hikes

  5. Blanca, you look like you are having a great time, and probably very timely meeting up with old friends. I love your posts and told my nephews all about your trip. We looked up your map and they learnt a bit of geography because of you. I have been thinking about the heat you are travelling through. All good here. L x

  6. Qué pasada!
    Dice Beno que te lo tomes con calma que tienes mucho tiempo.
    Esperamos que sigas disfrutando como hasta ahora.


  7. wow wow wow crazy lady it looks fantastic and an amazing journey so far can’t wait to hear the stories when your back loving the blog so interesting to read all about the amazing places. Stay safe and enjoy Melx

  8. The iron curtain was such a huge deal – and the day it came down a momentous one! Lovely to have friends come be with you on your trip.

    Question: did you make plans taking climate into account and the best times to be in certain places en route before you set out? I’ve had one blogger say that it can make or break certain countries, but it seems to me there’s always going to be a terrible headwind, or rain somewhere, someplace, no matter when you set out. I’ll be interested to hear what you think

    1. I did and I didn’t take into account the seasons. I didn’t want to spend the winter in Eastern Europe. Perhaps influenced by Dervaig Murphy’s story of wolfs in her book Full Tilt. However I will be hitting get the winter in Turkey and Iran. I am heading for the Paris an the Karakoran highway (Chinese and Pakistani visas allowing) and the window for that is May/June, once the snow goes down and before the monsoon, so had to make some choices. If I’d left London in May I would have had time to do that part in September/October but I had other commitments so…

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