About the trip
This was my second international adventure, part of my plan to visit six continents in five years. (I still have Africa, Asia and Australia to go.) I had two weeks off between graduating from school and starting my job, so I began poking around on the Internet for cheap last-minute vacations. I found a place that could schedule self-guided biking tours of Europe fairly quickly. I checked out the airfares to Vienna. They were cheap. I was sold.
I invited one of my roommates, Dave, to go with me. We bought the trip from a company called Europe Express, which sells Uniquely Europe bike tours. Their staff were pleasant to deal with and were able to get the tour booked quite quickly. My only complaint is that would only accept payment by fax, a pain for someone without a fax machine.
A company called Romantic Czech Tours operates the trips. We met two of the people who run the company, Jaroslav Minarik, and his son Martin. They were nice people. Their company provided us with bikes, taxi travel and hotel accommodations with breakfast. We were on our own for lunch and dinner, which allowed us to try some local flavors. The rooms were all in locally run establishments and were of good quality. The bikes were in good shape, old frames with new components. This trip is good for people with a sense of adventure, willing to do the biking and navigation, but who appreciate help hauling their bags and booking hotels. I wouldn't recommend it for someone who is totally focused on relaxing and wants to be constantly waited on by American-friendly guides. It takes some work to enjoy this trip, but I think it's worth it.
Below, you can read the itinerary, as described on the Europe Express web site. We followed the route exactly, although in some cases we saw different attractions. You can see our route on my map above. And you can click on the days listed below to read my journal from each city. I hope you enjoy reading about our trip!
Daryl (that's me)
Uniquely Europe Biking Tours
Bike through the capitals of 3 countries in the footsteps of the Danube Monarchy, starting in the Austrian capital of Vienna, and following the Danube River across the border to Budapest. You will be dazzled by the combination of Gothic architecture and rich history.
Day 1 Please be dressed to ride. Your contact or guide will pick you up in Vienna at the Franz Joseph Railstation waiting area between 9 and 10am to drive you to the outskirts of Vienna. Here you will be fitted for your bike and you are off on you biking adventure. Cross the border into the Czech Republic to an area called South Moravia. A long climb will reward you, when you reach the top, with panoramic views of the surrounding country. Bike through vineyards, farmland and small villages. On the way see the Obelisk that commemorates the peace pact of Napoleon with the Archduke of the Czechs, built in 1978. Overnight, Cejkovice.
Day 2 Bike to Lednice, see Valtice Castle and the Italian influenced garden complex. The town and chateau were founded in the early 13th century. The chateau today is furnished as it looked in the 1850s. The spiral staircase located in the blue room is said to be carved from a single tree. Also ,if time permits, visit the villages and limestone cliffs of the Pavlov Highland. Overnight in Cejkovice.
Day 3 Bike from Cejkovice by the Morava River to Slovakia. This is a protected natural reservation. Continue to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Once in Bratislava, take time to visit Devin Castle. This ruin sits at the juncture of the Morava River and the Danube. Overnight, Bratislava.
Day 4 From Bratislava, cross the border to Hungary. This area is famous for its mineral spas. Your ending spot today is Mossonymagyaovar. This town is situated on three national borders. Spots of interest here are Hans˝g Museum, Cselley House, Fire Museum, and Castle Mosonmagyarovar. Overnight, Mossonymagyaovar.
Day 5 Bike from Mossonymagyaovar to Gyor. Here you will find the "Xantus Janos" Museum, Exhibit of the life works of Miklos Borsos, Ceramics by Margit Kov˝cs, Collection of the works of Imre Patko, House of Napoleon, and the Pharmacy Museum to name a few. The thermal bath of Gyor was opened in 1977. Overnight, Gyor
Day 6 From Gyor, again cross the border to Slovakia. Kormarno is a town on the crossroads of the Danube and Vah Rivers. Birds and other wildlife are very abundant here. Overnight, Kormarno
Day 7 Today you continue on to Sturovo, another Danube port, where you will catch a ferry to the Hungarian side of the river, to the historical city of Esterghom. You will soon see the Basilica of Esterghom, built on a rock high above the Danube. We will follow the river for a stretch until we come to the former royal castle of Esterghom. Central to Roman Catholicism and birthplace of St Stephen, the first Hungarian king, Esterghom is the most significant city in Hungary, after Budapest. Overnight, Esterghom.
Day 8 Leaving Esterghom, you continue on to Szentendre via some of the most beautiful scenery of the Danube delta. Via ferry, you cross to the island of Szentendre, an idyllic artists community near Budapest. You can bike to the numerous galleries and workshops along the island and enjoy the view of the two cities along the Danube River banks. From Szentendre, continue by van to Budapest. Tour ends.