Bratislava and last evening in Vienna

This morning, I took ferry from vienna to Bratislava in Slovakia across the river Danube. It felt a little bit like being in an Agatha Christie novel. It was a very rainy morning and the view wasn’t very much more than blurry shades of blue and gray as we sailed over the waters of the famous river. Not gray enough to dampen my enthusiasm though. After a scorching hot couple of days, the cool weather was very welcome. I had borrowed an umbrella and raincoat from Stoffl’s mum, so I knew I’d stay dry when we reached land.

After 75 minutes, we reached Bratislava. I didn’t have a map of the city nor did I have to find one because all you had to do was follow your nose. I walked away from the river and within five minutes, reached close to the city center. It was a rather delightful sight, like a real life version of some fairytale town in a Miyazaki movie, with old buildings, a castle off in the distance, and electric trams lazily making their way through cobblestone streets. There were few people out and about due to the earliness of the hour. I spent a good couple of hours walking around the Old Town, checking out the church and tower and other assorted buildings in their art deco styles.

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I had lunch at a little cafe where I got a galette with chicken and spinach. It turned out to be quite a bit larger than I had expected – again with the American portion sizes!

By mid-afternoon, I had explored most of the town and I found a chocolate cafe (Cafe del Doge) to rest in. I got a hazelnut capucchino and a slice of delicious tiramisu to go with it. The rain had quieted down during the day, but it’s started up again, and more people started pouring into the cafe.

I missed the ferry back to Vienna, which turned out to be a good thing, because I ended up taking the bus instead, which cost onlz 6 euros.

Later at night, we caught a performance of Die Fledermaus at the Opera House, which was possibly one of the raunchiest performances of anything I have seen in a long time.


Tomorrow, I ride up north through Ceska Republica to Kutná Hora and the Church of Bones.

Vienna Day2

Posting this one a little bit after the fact. Day 2 in Vienna was the morning after I arrived late the previous evening. I hadn’t got to see much of it then, having just taken a short stroll around the block and a quick drive to get food. I woke up around 10 the next morning, feeling sore in every bone of my body. I finally made it outside by noon.

C. had left excellent directions, so I was able to find the subway without too much trouble. On the way there, I passed through a few streets that allowed me to see what kind of neighborhoods the local people live in. Shockingly enough, not very different from other places – old buildings, rows of cars lining the streets spelling a parking place nightmare, grocery stores and parks with old men sitting on benches…

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I bought a day pass at the subway station and caught the U4 to Karlsplatz. This turned out to be a mistake at this time of the day as I walked straight into an onslaught of tourists in the hot, blazing sun. The lines of stores selling Mozart memorabilia didn’t help either. I took refuge in a McDonald’s after getting a kabab (lol). I walked a little bit more and saw the cathedral and Mozart’s house, after which I fled the area.


I took the subway to the Museums Quartier, which was immediately a lot quieter. Apparently the tourists are content with chintzy tourist shop trinkets rather than real culture. :P It was still hot, but there was more shade here. The courtyard was filled with scores of big pink chais type constructs where people lay and sunned themselves. It was fringed with museums on all sides. I wish I could have seen them all, but I only had a couple of hours and elected to see the modern art museum (MOMKA).


It was a good choice. The museum had a great collection that filled me with glee. The top two floors were dedicated to scientific inventions. Hearing familiar names like Planck, Maxwell, Tesla and Brownian motion made me happy and brought back memories of being hunched over stacks of textbooks back in schooldays. It seemed fitting that was once science was now art. They had models of vacuum tubes and the Tesla coil, an old school camera and an odd contraption that looked like a video camera mounted on a machine gun.

The abstract art was pretty cool too. I’ll write more about this when I have the time.



Later in the evening, C. and I and two of his friends went to old Vienna to get dinner and beers. I got schnitzel, which was tasty but gave me an upset stomach later. After this we went to the Nachtmacht for drinks. The place was surprisingly bustling for that time of a weeknight – a stark contrast to us on the other side of the Atlantic.


Overall, it was a good day with a snapshot view of Vienna. I wish I had more time in the city, but I have a feeling I’m going to be saying this a lot in the days to come.

Ljubljana to Vienna…

On Sunday morning, I woke up 7:00AM, packed up all my gear, loaded up the bike and rode out of Matej’s building to join Christoph and Daniel. We made our way to Zmajski most to get pictures of our bikes in front of the dragon. That done, and after a brief stop for fuel, we made our way out of Ljubljana.

The bike felt good – it felt almost lighter than the SV and the same height. I took the top box off so that I wasn’t carrying any extra weight that I didn’t need. I spent most of the morning trying to get used to riding it. We went through some really pretty roads as we rode out of Slovenia. I made a mental note to leave at least 2-3 days at the end of the month to ride around the country. My jetlag in the beginning had prevented this and it would be a shame to not see more than Ljubljana.


We made a brief stop at the border. Like I’d been told, there was no border control any more, so no chance of getting a stamp on my passport. The world was just going to have to believe that I rode through all these countries. After we crossed, we rode through a stretch of twisties including some really tight hairpin turns, one of which I completely blew – a tight, steep, uphill one. Why don’t we have roads like this in Washington again? When we stopped for lunch after three hours, I realized how slow we had been going (because of me) and felt a little gloomy at how rusty my riding skills were. I had done no conditioning rides this year at all, and the narrow twisty roads here seemed quite technical. I know that I will get into it after a few days of riding though.


We stopped at Klagenfurt for lunch and Daniel realized that his front brake pad had *fallen off* and he had no more front brakes! what rotten luck! He ended up parking his bike and C.’s brother’s place nearby and taking the train back to Vienna.

That left just C. and I. Since we had to get to Vienna by nightfall, we decided to change routes to some slightly faster roads. It was still going to be almost six more hours of riding though – a total of almost 450km all together.

There were sections of the ride that were fantastic – long sweepers, somme tight turns, fantastic valleys and countryside, hot sun, trains rolling by to the right, little deserted towns… and there were a few dull sections, where all you did was go in a straight line. My energy level was fine until the last hour as we neared closer to Wien (Vienna). It was night now and we rode through the darkness on the outskirts of the city. Tired as I was, I love riding at night through city streets. :)

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We finally made it to C.’s street, where we parked the bikes and staggered upstairs with our stuff. We went out after a while to a McDonald’s to get some food. I was pretty braindead by then.

I slept well that night. I also finally bid goodbye to the jetlag.