Monday 20th August
Vienna to Bratislava: 4 hours 7 minutes, 77km
“I took advantage of the hostel buffet breakfast, feasting on 3 bowls of muesli and a couple of hot chocolates. I said farewell to Julien (who was driving off to Salzburg today) and cycled off out of the hostel.
I knew where I had to go. I was to get onto the north bank of the Danube and follow what looked like a bicycle track all the way to Bratislava passing through what seemed like 40km of national park. Navigating out of Vienna however proved to be more tricky and only after an hour was I on the said bicycle track that ran beside the river.
It was a scorcher of a day. I thought I might gain some respite in the shady forest of the national park but alas the path that ran through this 40km section was straight as an arrow, dusty and provided no shade what so ever.
I arrived in Bratislava at about 1pm. Yet again, the border crossing was non-existent. I pulled into a backpackers hostel. Part of my reason for leaving early was to get to hostel before it became fully booked. Unfortunately I was too early, as check-in only opened at 3pm. At least I was able to dump my stuff in the hostels luggage room and bicycle in the garden. The friendly receptionist then gave me a map of the city and I set off to explore on foot.
Bratislava is very small but it’s old town is magnificent with something interesting around every corner. Along my mini tour I stumbled across many modern looking statues and a fascinating gold circle embedded in the stone path. Engraved on this circle were a number of arrows pointing in every direction and each had a caption of the city it was pointing towards and the distance away as the crow flies. Notable markings included Pretoria just over 8200km away, Budapest a mere 165km and the South Pole at over 15 000 km. Perhaps it was due to the heat that I noticed this, but there also seemed to be disproportionately many water features as well as an extraordinary amount of cafes.
I returned to the hostel to check in properly and have a shower. I sat in the garden and had a more detailed look at the map and sights to see in Bratislava.
In the evening I decided to head up to the castle. I popped into the massive Tesco store to pick up some groceries and then cycled up to castle. The view point looks over the city and the sun was low on the horizon coating every building with a light golden hue. After riding on a plaza near the view point I was approached by probably the most friendly security guard in existence, and told with a huge smile, to please not ride there.
I headed back to the hostel. In the beer garden, I overheard a group of about 8 Brits having the most intriguing conversation. It varied from cheese jokes, to who would win if Scotland and Ireland went to war and then to perhaps the most interesting discussion of which super power was the best.”