Hello, Ciao, Zdravo, Ahoj!
2 weeks in guys and we have cycled through 5 counties so far, we have spent days in some of them and hours in others. All of them offering their own uniqueness. Upon leaving the amazing mountains surrounding our campsite in Slovenia, Camp Spik, we began a long cycle towards Ljubljana. We love to cycle through areas with such beautiful views all around us and we did for an hour or so but once the mountains where behind us it became a bit of an uphill slog with not so many scenic views to keep us motivated. However we did see a deer run across the road right next to a sign to suggest you may see deer running across the road so that was pretty cool but that is about as much excitement we had for that ride. Lots of main roads and busy towns.
So we arrived in Ljubljana and this evening was the first of a few in which we slept like royalty, we had booked an AirBnB! We arrived at our house in the early evening and it was located in a gorgeous little area about a 10 minute cycle from the City Centre. It was a nice building in a very nice area, with a real hostel vibe as there were many rooms for people to stay there and everyone seemed to be a travelling couple which was nice. It was the first night we had slept in a bed since we left so we had a really good nights sleep.
The next day we spent the day in Ljubljana City Centre and we had such a lovely day. It really is a wonderful place that I would highly recommend, Slovenia itself is just beautiful and is now one of my favourite countries I have ever visited. (I will say it again, Lake Bled….you have to go there at some point in your life.) We spent the afternoon walking around, taking in all the sites and scenes of this quaint little city. We walked to the top of the Castle, it was pretty steep to get to the top and it was a strain on our sore legs but it was well worth it to see the view once we got up there. Stunning and it is free. It’s a City full of art, book stores, street performers on violins and other musical performers and record shops, so I really enjoyed spending the day there. After some lunch we headed back to our room to set off again, we said goodbye to Ava our host and off we went. Another long haul through Slovenia. No cycle paths on this particular part of our journey so it was tough.
With no campsites on our route, we turned to the internet again to find somewhere to stay for the night and we found something on booking.com. It was a little apartment, out in the sticks of Slovenia and as Mel and I had referred each other we got it for £4! We had cycled for hours to get there and it was dark by the time we arrived. We had caught an epic sunset on the way though. We were greeted by the lady who owned the buildings, she spoke very little English but she was just a delight and such a helpful host, her and Mel tried to communicate in German for a while but in the end she called her daughter to come and help translate. They showed us to our rooms and then we realised just what a steal we had got from our booking.com reservation. Second night we got to sleep in a bed, not only did we have a bed but we had a whole apartment, kitchen area, dining area, TV AND a bath. I was over the moon. Plus we got matching bathrobes which was just a cute touch we enjoyed after using our minty towels for over a week! We had baths, a great night sleep and the mother and daughter asked us what time we would like our breakfast, that they would prepare for us, for free! 9AM on the dot, there was a knock on the door and they handed us our breakfast, we had a selection of meats, boiled eggs, sausages, a variety of bread rolls, tomatoes and peppers, jam, butter, coffee, green tea! What a kind and generous gesture, I mean they did not know about our bargain booking but I almost felt bad! It was a delightful spread and the most substantial breakfast we have had to date, we even made butties for the road. If you ever find yourself in North Eastern Slovenia, I would recommend spending the night in Apartmaji Ozmec, Cvetkovci. The family are really wonderful and we had such a great experience there.
After our breakfast we set off nice and early, this was the day Mel had hinted at the fact we may be in and out of Croatia in a day. Now I am going to be honest here, I didn’t understand how that was possible, still not quite sure on the geography of it all but this was the day we cycled in 3 countries in one day. That, I think is pretty impressive and I was rather proud but to say it was a long day would be a little understated. This was a longgg hot, dusty, dry day with nothing pretty along the way. Here’s me dreaming of Croatia and all it’s glorious waterfalls. It’s always been top of bucket list…and it still is as we literally cut across a corner. However we did find a nice park to sit in and eat our breakfast butties! This was also the day my neck started to really cause me agro, my body isn’t lending itself kindly to the 50 mile days we have been putting in and I was in a lot pain. Just had to crack on. So we crossed Slovenia into the corner of Croatia and then Croatia into Hungary. Unlike Italy to Slovenia there wasn’t any noticeable change between countries besides a pick up in the wind.
We crossed the Hungarian boarder and set off towards a campsite that we had seen close by, when we arrived however it was clear that this campsite hadn’t seen any guests in a while. It had been closed down for some time. Someone should tell Google this. So we could either cycle a fair distance on top of, yanno, the 3 couuntries we had already cycled through or get a cheap motel near by. We opted for the motel. Well, I felt like a fraud, third night in a bed on our big camping trip! Let me tell you when we got to the motel we wished we had set up our tent somewhere! It had its quirks, it really did and the people were lovely but my god it needed some TLC. If you look up the term seedy motel, pictures of this place would be fitting. It was comical, from the bright coloured drapes, giving everywhere an eerie glow like some kind of brothel, to the man running about the place in his Y-Fronts, to to all the open doors of the rooms, each containing quite the characters, all sat around big bottles of spirits drinking. It wasn’t the best of places but it is certainly one we will remember. We dumped our bags and headed out for some food. We have been eating a lot of noodles, pasta and eggs off of our little stove and fruit to keep costs down. So after such a big day we fancied a treat, also we would set the place up in flames if we lit an open flame in the motel. FYI a great thing to eat in Slovenia and Hungary for cheap is kebabs! They are about £2 for a huge kebab and a drink and they are delicious! We had quite a few during our time there. There are veggie options as well (not to sure about vegan) Anyway, Mel and I headed out to Colorado Pub just down the road from our motel, which was right by the boarder and got beer and pizza. The place was great, a cool rustic, American decor and a gargantuan pizza that was just what we needed and so so tasty. Cost us about £8 for 4 beers and a pizza the size of our table, so its another one I would recommend. Mel claims that night he got the best night sleep so far, I have to agree the bed was very comfy.
Next destination Budapest. This one Mel and I had both been really looking forward to. I was pretty upset on this day though because the pain in my neck had just been getting worse every long day we did and it got to the point I couldn’t turn my head left at all and we had no cycle path on this route but a lot of busy busy roads. So we decided to get on a train into Budapest, which meant we would miss out on cycling along Lake Balaton and as much as I was in pain, I wasn’t happy to get on the train but disappointed but it had to be done. Plus realistically, we needed to fit a train ride in somewhere or we probably wouldn’t be present at our own wedding! So we spent four hours that afternoon on a train to Budapest. We did have a fantastic view of Lake Balaton along the way from the window.
The minute we arrived in Budapest I just got that sense of entering an amazing place. The butterflies you get when you go somewhere awesome. It had the hustle and bustle of New York and London which I wasn’t expecting but the surrounding sights just beautiful and exotic, unlike New York or London. Their mountain to one side (and it is a mountain, one they are very proud of) then the big beautiful buildings and bridges on the other. I loved it right away. But before we explored, we needed to go get our tent set up. We were back to camping tonight. The place we had found was a place called BikerCamp. A unique little spot for people travelling on two wheels. So we followed the directions until we came to an area that consisted of rows of streets with houses along them. No campsite in site. No grass in sight even. So we cycled around for about 30 minutes wondering where on earth this place was. Looked on the website again and realised it did look like a garden and I found a picture of the logo. A triangle for the tent and a motorbike. Then all of a sudden, now I knew what we were looking for I spotted the logo on the garage door. We rang the doorbell and got walked through to basically a big back garden that had been converted into a campsite. I loved it, what a cool idea and right near the city centre. The atmosphere was great, it had a converted outdoor kitchen and bathrooms to use. Such a good find. It costs us around £38 to stay there for two nights, a steal in the heart of Budapest and beer there was 1 euro!
So during our time in Budapest we checked out Szimpla Kirt, the abandoned buildings turned into bars. These places are incredible. If you are like me and love art and music and things out of the ordinary you have to visit this place. Its like being in some kind of retro, acid trip, time warp. Very hippie and cool. Loved it. Nothing is too overpriced either. We had an evening dining out trying the Goulash, Chicken Paprika and all the traditional Hungarian eats. We took pictures of the buildings, lit up at night time. The place is unreal at night. there was live music playing by the river and hundreds of people there dancing. It was busy but not too busy. The next day we took the free walking tour, our tour guide, a little fire cracker named Regi, she was so proud of her country and we loved learning everything she had to tell us about the city. I still can’t get on board with Hello meaning goodbye though. We went to all the big monuments and it was all just breathtaking. We went to the Buda side along with the Pest side, learning all about both and now we know how to pronounce Budapest correctly. Budapesht 🙂
We encountered a scammer down in the tube station on this day. he wanted our help to get him a ticket saying he only had euros but once we had got the ticket for him he didn’t have the right change to swap. So keep your wits about you when using the tube. When he got aggressive and just clearly wanted the ticket for free, Mel simply told him that we where not a charity case. Job well done.
In Budapest, Mel took me to get a Thai massage to try and sort out my neck. It was the best idea, I clicked in places I didn’t even realise I had bones. Sadly as amazing as I felt for a while, the pain is still present. Loved the massage though! All in all Budapest is incredible and should be on everyone’s bucket list.
We left BikerCamp on Saturday and that marked two weeks on the road for us. Its been an amazing and challenging two weeks but we have loved it all despite the aches and pains. Everything is better when you’ve earned it! From Budapest we cycled to Szob, this was one of our 50 mile days and we have been cycling along the Eurovelo6 cycle path. It has some incredible views. We have been cycling along the Danube River, that has plenty of places to stop off for a swim. An ideal way to cool down, Especially recently as its been so so hot at times. I’ve spotted a few portaloos along the route as well but not been brave enough to use one just yet. Good idea to have them there none the less. We were actually aiming for further this day, hoping to be in Bratislava by tomorrow but with my neck and the heat, we stopped just short of where we had planned. So glad we did though. We found the most gorgeous little campsite called Ipolykapu, right on the river. It cost us £6 each for the night and we had our own little patch, with a bench for us to sit and take in the stunning view. The place was immaculate and such a good find. We have been so lucky with all the little places we have came across by mistake.
Yesterday was another long day, another 50 miler and it really has been just too hot for it, we cycled along a road that almost felt like a trick road. The end in sight but never getting there. Yesterday was a sad day for us in general as it would of been Kerri’s 33rd birthday. So I was thinking about her all day as well as Kim, Mel and Connah and Kaida. I know Mel was too. When it is hard going though on this cycle, thinking about Kerri gives us the boost we need to keep going. We exceeded our target of £1000 for Diabetes UK within the first two weeks! We are so grateful to everyone who donated and we just want to say a huge huge thank you. Seeing the new donations every time we had the chance to log in really kept us going when we were feeling a little down and out with all the long days. We have to extend a special thank you to Adam Green, who seeing us hovering on £770 for a few days made a donation of £230 to make sure we hit the target. That was very kind of you Adam. You said you had been following the blog so if you are reading this Ta La 🙂 but really, thank you to everyone. For the support, the donations and all the kind words. It all means so much.
We have 21 days left in Europe and only 2 countries left to cross. We have been in and out of Slovakia and Hungary the last two days…I don’t question the route, I just follow it. Although it did bother me making it to Slovakia to then go back to Hungary but geography was never my strong suit. So I will go with it. Currently back In Hungary at another delightful little find tonight. We are so looking forward to Bratislava, Vienna and Munich! I think I am going to be blown away by the scenery and I can’t wait. Just hope my neck doesn’t throw a spanner in the works.
A month from now we will be married and starting the next chapter (America/Japan/Thailand) as Mr & Mrs Swannick. Exciting times ahead, stay tuned.
As always….pictures to follow.