Esztergom

Today is our seventh day of this cycle tour. Starting in the Czech Republic we headed to Austria, Slovakia and today Hungary. Incredible that we have been on the road for a week already.

A longer ride of 150 km was scheduled, so we headed down to breakfast first thing to fill up.

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Looking out the window from breakfast it looked pretty bleak.  The forecast was a maximum of 11 degrees and some rain. Crazy spring weather after 28 degrees 2 days earlier. One bonus was that the winds were minimal.

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We headed off in light drizzle. It was a very cool and crisp 8 degrees.

The first 10 km out of Bratislava in peak hour ensured we got dirty pretty quickly with road grime flicking up. The roads quitened down nicely as the majority of traffic was heading into the capital.

The drizzle eased up after about 20 km and for most of the day we were on a mix of road and bike trails (sealed and unsealed).

The country roads with the ubiquitous canola!

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Further on we had a fairly long stint on a gravel/dirt/pot holed track. As we approached a farm house on our left, a dog shot out angry that we had invaded his territory. We both started upping the power ready to try and escape, when the dog, running at an adrenaline  charged full pace abruptly came to a painful, screaming halt.  He was on a chain and we were thankful. I am sure he has a very sore neck!

This town had a few curiosities including this wonderful storks nest, sitting perched on a light post adjacent to the local  church. We saw another one shortly after.

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E9DA4ECF-9BBF-4BC8-B308-8D0B9EBBDC06Then at the other end of town was this junk shop where you can buy your own stork or other ‘ornaments’ for your garden. Do they leave this crap, oops….I mean do they leave this ‘stock’ out overnight? I guess they do, seriously, who would steal it?

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I did not drink much water today but proof that I did drink some! The maximum temperature was 12.4 degrees. Underneath my rain jacket I have a wind proof gilet, a merino jersey and merino arm warmers.

F9FEC86E-26DB-4378-BE4B-119103800822Finally we reconnected with the Danube river. Here is one of a series of war memorials along this particular stretch.

E7135E42-D9FB-4928-9FBC-FA6FFEE76A25The border between Slovakia and Hungary is in the middle of the river, so the other side is Hungary.

3767AF22-4FB3-4ADE-A488-E4D9095D547DWe were back onto the bike path when it started to rain again! We had cleaned our bikes some 50 km earlier when we stopped at a service station. However, this rain provided a further clean. We deliberately rode through larger clean puddles for a ‘rinse’.

Bang the bike path just fizzled out! We had to push our bikes over to the nearest road.

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4D1F6A07-773A-45E2-8354-98011F8E8872Finally we got to cross the Danube and take some photos.  We had been able to see the Basilica for some time in the hazy distance. We were pretty impressed standing on the border of two countries and gazing in wonderment.

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04EB13A7-F5DB-47F7-8BCC-922B2C6E8279Our accomodation is only  few hundred metres from the Basilica. Our bikes are stored in the courtyard downstairs somewhat dirty but heaps better than earlier in the day.

Tony needs to replace the front disc pads on his bike as they were making some noise today but we will wait until Budapest to replace.

This is our 150 km route from today.

054BAB43-202C-4922-88A1-F64782A20B60After showering and doing our laundry we started walking.

3BB7E1BA-4097-4D95-86F0-4951CDC85642The old castle was closed, and is located adjacent to the Basilica. This photo was taken looking in from one of the gates.

86264937-C2BD-4ED1-B7DA-ABC99C031EF7A pretty impressive entrance gate to the basilica, although I note from the Roman numerals, it is not ‘that’ old, with the 1874 date.

37B03EDD-85CB-4A21-BC22-C58D1D57CF20Through the arch is this building.

38164960-2098-45B4-8C22-E4A2491C9180Then up to the very top of the hill is the Esztergom Basilica, otherwise known as the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumption and Saint Adalbert.

The historical heritage of the cathedral built on the Castle Hill of Esztergom dates back over a thousand years.

Following the conquest and the settlement of the Hungarians, Prince Géza ordered a Church to be built on this site next to his palace.

The young king, the founder of the state, was crowned here at Christmas 1000 with the crown sent by Pope Sylvester II.

It was King Stephen who set up the organisation of the Hungarian Church. Accordingly, in line with his intention, the construction of a cathedral began, with the purpose of making it head church of the country.

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3812E9D5-74FF-4071-B369-48D9521DDEB3The photo below shows the (netted) dome, the Sanctuary and High Alterpiece. The High Alterpiece is the largest in the world painted on a single piece of canvas (13.5 x 6.6 metres). The work is of Michelangelo Grigoletti, based on Titian’s well known work, The Assumption, which can be seen in Venice.

FCE8C38B-476C-4533-80C8-A345EB008B06The organ was first played here in 1856 in the presence of the famous Hungarian composer Ferenc Liszt. Renovation works commenced in the 1970s and are continuing.

It always amazes me.  Catholic Churches are lavish, but their seating is barbaric!

A4C11098-2E1A-4DCD-A0A0-D471DC3133B4Tony captured some great shots overlooking the Danube, Esztergom and Slovakia.

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188891BA-9171-4C2A-80AF-7C1E5088F47DWalking back down the hill is this statue near the castle.

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In town looking for a bank to grab some local currency.

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No bank yet but what a classic bike.  Totally rusty yet it’s owner has it chained so it cannot be stolen. I have never seen such a rusty bike.

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We found a bank and feeling rich with 50,000 florin to our name! Walking back we noted a cappuccino costs 550!

We saw St Stephens perched high on another hill.

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Then this old Roman milestone plinth.

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We had been recommended to eat dinner next door at the restaurant. It offered a range of Hungarian cuisine including a large range of catfish, knuckle and frog dishes.  There was a rooster manhood soup (🤷‍♀️🤔).

We ummed and aahed and I realised that it seemed somewhat incongruous that Olivia Newton John and John Travolta were belting out their well known Grease hit!

We both settled on a venison stew with ‘potato dumplings’.  I thought they might be like the Czech dumplings but no, they were potato croquettes! The dish was tasty though with a bit of a kick.

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That’s it for today folks. Tomorrow we ride further down the river trails to Budapest. An easy day of around 80 km.

Thanks for reading and hug your loved ones! Today I learned that one of my Zwift friends lost his 13 year old son. Very sad and my thoughts are with him and his family.

Fly free Rhiley 💕

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Little Carpathians

Today we decided to do a looped ride from Bratislava and head north and cross the range known as the Little Carpathians.

Geomorphologically (what a great word), the Little Carpathians belong into the Alps Himalaya System and the Carpathian Mountains sub-system. The Little range is around 100 km in length.  Bratislava castle ( the one we can see out our bedroom window is the southern aspect).

The wind was howling when woke up. We checked the meteorological wind forecast and confirmed that it was seriously windy, and would be all day.

Never mind, doing a loop ride would surely provide a mix  of head, tail and crosswinds.  Won’t it?

Here was our route.

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We headed out following the Danube and wow it was tough going. We came across a triathlon race in progress and felt sorry for the cyclists.

We liked this bike rack in between the penny farthings.

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At Devin there is a famous castle standing on a massive rock hill above the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. The castle is part of the oldest history of Slovakia. Not having access to a drone today I have ‘borrowed’ a photo to show an aerial view (on a brilliant day!).

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This was our view.

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Heading up the road we spotted a cycle path a little ‘lower’ than the road. Hmmm! Cuss curse!

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Photos never do justice to slopes…it was steeper than it appears.

It was too steep for me to walk down with my bike. Fortunately my partner in adventure was willing to take it down. This is how I descended!

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Stop laughing all you alpha males! At least I got there in one piece!

I had noted whilst shuffling my butt down the slope these guys having a quiet fish.

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It is hard to picture wind but we managed today.

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We came across a dog competition and stopped to take this photo for a Victorian cycling friend Judith Cahill, who also shows her dogs.

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We were in quieter territory now.

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There were occasional small towns. This one is as we started the climb for the day.

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Climbing this hill over the range was a nice and steady 5-6 percent. The maximum gradient I noted on my Garmin was 6.7%. There were a few cars heading up and over but these were insigificant compared to the number of motorcycles screaming up like Valentino Rossi.

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Climbing
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Still climbing
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Nearly there…but not quite!

Now I am at top and this is what caught Tony’s eye. As a former motor cycle racer, some memories linger.

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We descended into this town. I liked the statue and fire station.

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On a bike path some 20 km from Bratislava we passed this critter. The third snake in two days.  Other non farm wildlife to date have been too fast but include one deer that ran across the road, two enormous hares and one pheasant.

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Somehow we missed a sign and did ended up in a very hilly reserve with lots of mtb bikes and hikers. One climb was 16%!

Very nice area though. We did ask a younger person for directions. One advantage was no wind!

The climbing graph today’s ride which was 106 km in length.

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An earlier night tonight as we intend being the first to breakfast at 6.30am. A longer day tomorrow as cross the border into Hungary, heading to Ezstrgom, around 150 km away.

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

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Peter Sagan, I’ve arrived!

I wanted to show you our shower, photo taken from our bed. Yes, three sides are glass and you can see our bikes through the shower! The shower is part of the bedroom. I would not want to be sharing with ‘just a friend’ lol.

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After showering in ‘privacy’ NOT 😂🙈 it was off to breakfast. This is such a quirky hotel. You can see an old cash register and sewing machine, amongst a room full of eclectic knick knacks.
Continue reading “Peter Sagan, I’ve arrived!”