Tuesday 21st August
Rest Day in Bratislava
“Each room in the Downtown Backpackers is named after a famous artist. I was staying in Picasso along with 7 other people and was the first of the Piccasans to wake the next morning. I packed up my things quietly before heading downstairs to check out of the hostel.
I had the whole day to explore the town as I would be staying with a Slovakian family in the evening who lived in Bratislava. I decided to seek out a bike shop that could drill out the broken bolt still wedged in one of the braze-ons. I navigated to a bicycle shop and arrived just as they were opening up. The mechanic took my bike down the street to his workshop round the corner and for a few nervous minutes I waited with my pannier bags outside the shop, wondering whether he would ever return. He did and what’s more, he had managed to remove the stuck bolt. A small job, that I thought would be free, but still inquired as to the price to be polite. Unfortunately, he charged me 5 euros for his services.
I decided to have a good look around the old town. So I got a map from the tourist office and set off on a self guided tour. After a fair bit of wandering around I decided to visit the National Gallery. The main area was closed due to renovations but they had a smaller 2 floor exhibition, show casing Slovak art from just after the war. It was fantastic! Small enough to engage properly with the pieces, each area had a theme which was described on a pamphlet in English. It was strange how much I was able to learn about the countries history just from one art exhibition.
I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at a graveyard. Now ‘Slavin’ isn’t an ordinary cemetery, it sits on a hill just outside the city and has an amazing view. There is a tall monument for the soldiers who fought and died in World War 2 as well as pristine grass lawns lined with their graves. Climbing the hill is tough though, and you have to work for the reward of a serene plaza overlooking the city.
From Slavin, I headed out of the city to where Ivana and her family live. It’s amazing how in just a few kilometres the whole feel of a place can change. Even though I was riding through vine yards, the roads were tatty and there was a raw rural air about the it. I arrived at the house, a grand place, with light wood paneling, spacious rooms and a magnificent view of the city lights.
They had a meeting with some people in the garden, discussing plans for their Croatian sailing trip happening on the weekend. It was all in a language I could not understand but fortunately when the meeting was over they returned back to English.”
Read all of Matt’s posts on his website. All of the posts about Matt on CyclingEurope.org can be found here.
I love reading your Posts. I too have followed the Euro velo 6 from Budapest to the Black Sea Summrr 2014. My favorite psrts are grtting away from the cities and the larger towns. I love the remote coutryside especially Romania and Bulgaria. After reading about Eurovelo 13 the Iron Curtain route i devided to bike that one too. On May 3 2015 I started from Cervelo Bulgaria and followed the route thru every town and turn on the bikeline map. The mounts in southern Bulgaria are ChAllE nGing. Steep and relentless. I do not carry camping gear so had yo make sure I could make it to the towns with listed accomodation. Tight now I am spending 3 days in Brataslava Slovakia before continuing the route NW. I plan to end in Finland by mid Sept. I encounter rain and cold weather in the beginning but no mechanical problems or flats. Just 4 days ago while trying to leave Sopron Hungary the rear cassette just spun. Lucky I was in a city. However the day was a Sunday and the town folds. I found a very good bike shop on Mon and some very rusty bearings were replaced and the cassette fixed. I had a new cassette and chain installed before the trip. I ride a co-motion touring bike with 28 tires. I call her “My Appaloosa”.