Danube River Tour - week 1



Here are some brief notes from the road sent back by Joanne.

Day 0 Belgrade 
Briefing, bike set up, 20km test ride around the lake in Belgrade. Degree of difficulty fairly high due to so much construction work. Great dinner in bohemian quarter. 

Day 1 to Novi Sad
Long 109km first day, bloody hot, tough day for all. A good descent well earned. A couple of dnf’s due to the heat. Nice evening spent in Novi Sad with enough food to feed an army, staff looked very unimpressed with our effort of getting through it. Town centre busy due to Exit Festival next day so a bit of a carnival atmosphere. 

Day 2 to Vukovar 
Nicer weather conditions. Short ferry crossing of the Danube. Watching rural life go by as we rode (how often can you say “cow up” when cycling?). Tour Leader Andrea made the day of a homeless man by giving him all our leftover food from dinner. Crossed the border into Croatia which actually required a passport check. Nice lunch spot even though veeery slow service. Vukovar interesting, completely flattened in Yugo war, some buildings pockmarked with bullet holes. Toasted our arrival in Croatia with some local wine (they have been making wine 200 years longer than Burgundy). Jovan our local Serbian guide is a wealth of knowledge on the region. 

Day 3 to Osijek
Perfect roads, perfect cycling weather, great morning coffee stop by the river. Short day into Osijek, lunch on a moored boat before checking in to hotel. 

Day 4 to Mohacs
Said goodbye to local guide Jovan and hello to new local guide Kornel who will take us through the next section of countries. Beautiful ride day. AllTrails Richard was up front marking arrows for the group. Everyone pretty much rode as a group all day. Peter and Carol got simultaneous punctures riding over a grate. Crossed border into Hungary. Rode a short sharp climb up a cobblestone street to the Memorial to the Battle of Batina (WWII). From the lookout point you can see the borders of Croatia, Serbia and Hungary. Peter, Wayne and I missed an arrow late in the day and rode an extra 8 kms to almost make it to 100 for the day. Dinner together, included a cold berry soup!

Day 5 to Kalocsa 
Another 90km+ day. Last 30kms on a bike path along the river. Hungarian roads not as good as Croatian. Richards third flat tyre 7kms from finish. 

Day 6 to Ráckeve 
More flat riding along the river. Morning coffee break was at a little village cafe with a game of chess going on outside and music blaring inside. The game was won by the older gentleman. Riding along a bike path we missed the town we were supposed to detour into for lunch. Luckily Andrea came along before we got too far and turned us around into town. We had lunch at a small store where the lady cooked hamburgers on a grill out in the yard. We weren’t quite sure exactly what we were getting due to our lack of Hungarian language comprehension but the burgers were pretty good. It was one of those little mystery adventures that are the reason you travel. Due to our extra kms doubling back for lunch we arrived at the hotel with 99.4kms on the clock and given that we’d had a pretty tough day on some very rough roads and paths some of us felt the need to ride around the block to tick over the ton. 

Day 7 to Budapest 
After some longish days we were all looking forward to a shorter 60km ride into Budapest. Our Hungarian guide Kornel guided us the last 6 or 7kms into the city, giving us some history along the way. After having the afternoon to ourselves we enjoyed a traditional Hungarian dinner in a restaurant decorated in the communist era. 

Day 8 Budapest rest day
We started the morning with a guided walk of the city with Kornel who showed us some places which were a little off the usual tourist path then had the afternoon to ourselves to explore the rest of the city. 

More to come next week.