About Wind, Refugees and Cheap Hostels

The first day alone on my trip. A strange feeling indeed. Having nobody to talk to was new though liberating. From Vienna to Bratislava it’s only about 80-90 km, and since I had a lot of wind from the right direction I did it in less then 4 hours. This stretch of cycling path was nothing special, actually quite boring. I rode mainly on the dam with no view onto the Donau what so ever. A few days later I would give a lot to have those smooth roads again. But more about this later.

In Bratislava I made my first non-cycling day. It was a treat! My legs recovered fairly quickly and my knee problems went in a breeze. I enjoyed wandering around Bratislava without a plan. This took me to some very interesting places I probably would not have found in a guide book. Mainly the clash of building styles impressed me. On one side of the street you can see those old big villas and on the other side you see the soviet style ones - wo totally different areas just separated by a stretch of tarmac. Another curious building pointed out to me by another hostel guest, Eyk, was this hotel/ hostel thing that looks like a Hundertwasser building. Next time I’m in Bratislava I have to stay there… All in all I felt that I’d seen the city after a day and wanted to go on.

From Bratislava onwards my next destination would have been Budapest. But since it’s not reachable in one day I just started cycling. No goal, no real map, just a rough plan on where to go. This worked out except for one place. A funny place and - as I later found out - a sad one. The road looked like it was used to practice making road marks. Lines of paint zig-zagged the street and the overall quality seemed dubious. I followed this road since there was no traffic and after checking the map I felt certain that it would lead me to the other side of the newly built, EU funded freeway. What I found instead was a dead end that seemed to be part of the construction network for the freeway. The road ended a meter before the freeway crossing and began a meter after the crossing. What I found as well was an illegal refugee camp on this street. The refugees told me that they use this place since the locals know that it is a dead end and nobody is coming this way. We ended up eating lunch together and they told me of the on-going fights in their homelands. Mainly the stories of the Hungarian police shocked me. I gave the refugees some contacts of people I know who provide help in their desired destinations. I left this dead end with a strange feeling, the feeling of being able to turn around and ride away while others don’t have this luxury.

I ended up pitching my tent near a place called Komárom. Not much to mention about this place except for some soviet buildings and industry. There exists a thermal bath though. A very welcome treat after a day of cycling.

On my second day there was more wind. But in the wrong direction. The roads got bad and traffic heavy. This was the moment I really learned to love my rear view mirror. This little visual aid just helps you keep you concentrated on the traffic without having to look over the shoulder and loosing your balance. On the way into Budapest itself there was bicycle path again -  in really bad condition but I didn’t mind. A girl, maybe 14 or so started to cycle along my side. And this was my first “trial” on my trip. She started to ask me in broken English about everything. Where do you come from, where are you going, where do you sleep… I enjoyed her company almost into downtown Budapest until she took a corner and was gone without any further question.

In Budapest I ended up in the Colors Hostel where I paid 6€ for a night. This is a hostel how they should all be! 8 people sleeping in a mixed dorm, one kitchen for everybody, limited amount of showers and just a bunch of cool people.

It was Friday night. So two Berlin girls (Saskia & Frida) and I decided to go out to find some decent techno. Well we found it but it seems that Budapest has a real shortage of good techno clubs. After hours standing in line we decided to call it a day. Budapest nightlife is not for us. Maybe on Saturday…