Slovakia 26th – 28th May

It was obvious we had crossed in to Slovakia. An abandoned shell of a building was clearly an old border crossing. Old military outposts a hundred metres or so either side reinforced this. The cycle paths disappeared. The cycle route signs went too. Graffiti appeared on the walls. The buildings were a lot less attractive. This is something you don’t see when you fly in to an airport. The overland transition is something I enjoy experiencing. Arriving on the outskirts on a bicycle and not at the international airport walking through duty free is not the way the government wants to welcome you. I like this. You feel like you are getting a more honest portrayal of a country.

We had cycled every day for the last three weeks. We’d stopped early a couple of times but a days rest was due. Hannah’s thigh was still playing up and with Bratislava around the corner we decided now was the time to take a day off. We both wanted to see the city as had heard good things. Bratislava was a luxury for us. We got an apartment for the night. We washed our clothes for the first time (I know. Cue the ‘uuuurrrgghhhh’s’). We walked the streets of the old town with shampooed hair and donning our ‘off-the-bike clothes’ late that afternoon. It was beautiful. The stag do’s and the loud voices of English lads were evident but not overwhelming. We knew Bratislava was a bit of a stag do location but even though it was a weekend it was pretty quiet. Don’t get me wrong, I love a stag do, I’m sure I’m one of those loud English guys letting loose in quaint foreign cities, but we have been a million miles away from this kind of seen so far on the trip. We wandered for a while and then dined on Slovakia’s finest hearty goodness. Mashed potato. Dumplings. Cottage cheese. Dough. Cabbage. It was far from colourful but it was goooooooood. We crashed out with full bellies on white sheets. And with pillows! Bliss…

Our first day off the bikes was just perfect. We ran some errands in the morning. We posted home  5kg’s of stuff that we had not yet used and felt we could dump, and we stocked up on some more supplies. Then the fun stuff. We bought three big bags of crisps, six cans of beer, and four frozen pizzas and watched the entire last season of Game of Thrones. It was needed. Our bodies thanked us.

Even though we had only taken one day off, we missed being on the bikes. We missed our tent. It was our home and we were ready to rough it again. Hannah’s thigh was still playing up. The days rest had not worked. She decided to raise her seat post ¾” in an attempt to make it a bit more comfortable. Bingo! Problem solved it seemed. Such a little thing took away the pain and the problem has yet to return. We cycled for a long time along a rough muddy cycle path. It was fun for the first five minutes and then the fun was replaced with boredom and sore bums. When we finally reached tarmac Hannah reminded me to put my helmet back on (she’s good at this). My shoulders dropped as I realised that I had left my helmet on the ground miles back when adjusting Hannah’s seat post. Hannah chilled out in a bar with a pint of kofola (a local cola type drink with a coffee kick and a hint of aniseed) while I cycled back pannier-free to collect my helmet. I rode for miles and miles way past where I thought I had left it. It was gone. I was distraught. I spent a small fortune on a really good helmet for this trip. It was the second of its kind as the first one I bought for the trip I had left on a train a few weeks earlier on its first outing. I cycled in silence for a while until I could laugh about it. What a knob…

We stayed in a really weird campsite that night. We were the only ones in a tent amongst lots of camper vans and caravans with grass growing high all around them. We were looked at oddly when we cycled in and pitched our tent. Clearly not much happens around here. Even cooking up a big pot of lentils, chick peas, kidney beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes raised eyebrows. To be honest, if I came home from work back home and Hannah was cooking up the same dish in the kitchen I think I’d pull the same face. Onwards to Hungary…

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