Wake up in Slovakia, have breakfast in Hungary…

…then buy some food in Hungary and picnic in Slovakia, only to finish the day 30km from Budapest.

That was pretty much the summary of our day yesterday. We woke up where we had camped, in the nice camping by the lake in the north of Bratislava. I woke up after a night in the hammock, there was no mosquitoes and I took the chance. It was pretty nice.

Bike and hammock in Prague
I didn’t sleep on it in Prague

Without further ado (save a shower of course, with boiling water though) we set off on the road to Budapest by the highway. Yes, the highway, but not for long. We stopped for breakfast at a gas station just past the border of Hungary where I bought the most useful piece of kit so far and instantly realized why I had been taking so many highways: because I didn’t know were the other roads were!!

From then on, the day was completely different to the previous days, we took the national roads following the Danube along the Slovakian-Hungarian border. Stopped at a supermarket on the road to buy some food for lunch that we would eat later on the road. When we arrived to Komárom, we wanted to have lunch and decided to cross the river into Slovakia again and set up our picnic in a nice park in Komárno, Slovakia. I enjoy crossing borders with the bike, it gives me a feeling of the distance I’ve travelled.

A long way from home
So far from home…

I especially enjoy these European borders, which are just lines on the ground with no one to stamp your passport even if you wanted to. Although here in Hungary you are supposed to buy a vignette for your vehicle to pay for road use. I’m not so sure if I had to buy it if I’m not using the highways but I bought it anyway, just to be on the safe side. By the end of the day, we had stopped for a couple of pictures in Ezstergom, visited Kisoroszi where we wanted to camp but decided against it, mainly because we didn’t have cash and it looked like a party camping. Back to the mainland and with some cash in my pocket, I was so tired of riding that we stopped at the first camping sign we saw just across the river in Tahitótfalu. It turned out to be a nice camping managed by a  very nice Hungarian guy who had hung a French flag in his house as decoration. So we offloaded the bike and went for a pizza in the surroundings.

Although the hammock was there too, it slept on its own that night because it was full of mosquitoes and I didn’t want to wake up itching everywhere. Today, I am writing this from a hotel room in Budapest (I needed to sleep on a bed) as I am about to leave for Debrecen or maybe further. Alice has just left to take her bus back to Prague. She’s such a great friend has helped me so much with all the preparations that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to repay her. Thank you again, Alice!

Alice and a new friend
Alice and her new friend

Now, off to the bike before it’s too hot to ride again!

Budapest, Budapest, Hungary

Too many highways

Sunset at the gas station
One for the road, almost in Prague

I have been speeding through Western Europe in order to reach predefined destinations at predefined dates. 150kph in France to get to Metz, 150kph in Germany to reach Dillenburg. It’s not funny, I get tired a lot faster at these speeds. Now it’s finished, today I arrived to Prague from Dillenburg and I had decided that even if it took me the entire day to get here, I would not speed through it. It was a lot more pleasant! I did get tired, after all I rode for the whole day but the road was much nicer: no turbulence in the helmet, a lot less vibration in the handlebars and if it’s not too windy I can ride the helmet visor open and smell the road… The fields, the woods, the other vehicles exhausts. Ok, that last one’s not so exciting but the other too are really worth it.

I set off from Metz quite late on Wednesday (it’s becoming a habit) still with this idea in my head that I should get an off-road helmet only to find out 20 meters later that I had broken the zipper on the right leg of my riding pants. Instant budget reallocation happened there and I no longer need an off-road helmet. All the shops were closed in Thionville because I arrived 10 minutes into the lunch break. The shopkeepers were all there in the shops but refused to open the doors. Bye bye France!

I arrived in Luxembourg too late for lunch with Boris so I wend straight to the bike shop to get new pants and the Portuguese sales guy tipped my decision to the no off-road helmet needed camp. And this is were I sped my way to Köln in order to arrive before off-the-road closed its doors and get  the last tools in my kit: tyre levers and chain breaker+rivet tool. I also tried to get a new air filter and brake pads but off-the-road doesn’t take anything but cash at the shop. Bikers beware, place your orders on the web or pay cash. Unfortunately the guy at the shop was too much in a hurry to wait for me to go to an ATM or place a web order. Thus, I decided to come back the next day. Little did I know (or remember) that Köln and Dillenburg are 125km away :(.

Sarah and Hugo were waiting for me so I sped again and there they were. More good friends, this is a great way to start an adventure. They had delayed their otherwise Germanic-scheduled 6 o’clock dinner to eat with me. They are so nice, I bet they were starving. The next morning, after breakfast with Hugo, I set off to Köln. This time more relaxed, I knew I had time and after getting my stuff from the shop I wanted to see the Cathedral. I saw it’s backside, it’s right side and I even saw it from across the river but I never got to see the façade, never managed to get there and I was cooking in my riding gear so I stopped for a brat wurst and I was on my way back to Dillenburg through the small roads. This was a good and a bad idea. Good because I enjoyed the road a lot but bad because I first had to get out of the city through what seemed like 50km of suburbs full of traffic lights and pedestrians and cars and I was still cooking like an egg in the microwave inside my jacket: about to explode!

Some nice roads later, in Dillenburg, I installed the headlight cover and the foam air filter. The bike’s first reaction was to not start. Panic! Alright, it only lasted for a few seconds until I turned the throttle a bit and kept it on until the correct air flow was re-established. But I did panic for a moment, it’s my first mod that gets so close to the engine. Then I was dragged to the neighbors’ living room to see a football match. I couldn’t say no because they said I could bring my laptop and play anti-social (anti-football actually). Yay! I had 90 minutes to put music on my phone, now my phone is full of Argentine music, ready for the road ;-), which takes me to today.

In Dillenburg
With Hugo, just before leaving Dillenburg

Alice is waiting in Prague for our 2-day trip to Budapest where she will take a bus back to Prague so I woke up a bit earlier than usual and still set off only at 11am. What’s the problem with me and early morning? :-P. Anyway, after breakfast, while I was preparing to leave, Hugo prepared me a lunch box. Thanks Hugo! I ate it at 2pm by the road, it was very nice. Actually, thanks Sarah and Hugo for the wonderful welcome you gave me.

This is the road I did almost completely without leaving the 95kph-105kph range, a very pleasant experience with a bonus. I have finally experienced the fuel autonomy that Yamaha promises in their brochure. Whilst in the city sometimes I have to fill the tank after 280km, today I could ride 420km without hitting reserve. I filled the tank only because I was getting nervous that the gauge could be malfunctioning. It wasn’t, there was still 1 or 2 liters left before the reserve.

Now I’m lying on my hammock at the camping in Prague, hesitating whether to sleep on the hammock or get into the tent. I think I’ll go for the tent, there are mosquitoes here and although they don’t usually like my blood, I don’t want to tempt them. So happy to have brought a hammock :-D.

 

Prague, Prague, Czech Republic