May 23, 2001
Today's adventures included Hungarian canned ham, a Viking pub, and a border guard with a sick sense of humor.
On the way out of the Hotel Révész this morning, we ran into Martin and Jaroslav (Jerry) Minarik. (This is not the same Jaroslav who drove our taxi). Jerry and Martin run the tour company, Romantic Czech tours, and were there to pick up our bags and say hi. Martin spoke good English; Jerry could get by quite well also. I told them the tour had been great so far, and said it was nothing when they apologized for the taxi confusion on the first day. It was Martin who I talked to on the phone - he had to call Europe Express at 2 a.m. Seattle time to figure out which hotel we were in. Jerry asked us about the bikes, which he said they'd recently put new components on. I said the bikes had performed very well so far.
The 65 km ride was long, flat and fast. We crossed the Danube, the border from Hungary to Slovakia in the morning. At the crossing, we got our passport stamped by a jolly guard who had some fun at our expense. Dave went first. "Souvenier passport!" said the guard, who sternly stamped the page - then stamped again and again and again on every page. The guard looked serious. Dave looked horrified. When Dave got his passport back, the guard looked up at me, and smiled, rolling his eyes in Dave's directions. Then he did the same trick with my passport, stamping it once for real, and in a fake way a dozen more times. All three of us laughed, although it was tense at first because most border guards are so serious.
Soon after the crossing, we stopped at a "restaurant" for lunch, but it apparently only served drinks. We had some groceries in our bag for lunch, including rolls, Melba toast, jam, Milky Way spread and canned ham. Dave opened the ham, but we could only finish about a third of it - too much for such a hot day. And this was really bad ham.
In Komárno, after checking into the Hotel Europa (where our room includes a separate living room!) we wandered. Dave bought a blue long-sleeve Pirelli soccer jersey. I bought a wooden chess board. We went out for pizza, ordering "four-cheese" pizza, on which each kind of cheese was neatly segregated into its own quadrant. After a few games of chess in the hotel, we went out for drinks. We found something called "Viking Pub," a dark cellar with Nordic decorations. The beer of choice there is called Kelt.
Back in the hotel, we're still not used to the setup of our hotel beds - no sheets, just a mattress cover and a thick blanket. If it's hot out, too bad. Luckily, I'm tired enough that sleep comes easy.