Slovakia to Austria

8th August

Our day started with a scenic cycle across a road that divided the reservoir we were camped next to, the early morning sun lit up the ruins of a castle that towered above us on a hill we were hoping the road would not lead up. Fortunately we snaked around it, through small villages and vineyards, a welcome change from the ubiquitous corn which seems to be so prolific through the areas we have passed (what happens to all this corn? Is it biofuel related?). Our small breakfast left us hungry quite quickly so we stopped outside what we thought was a shop, it had the usual signs and some seats outside. It turned out to be a very small shop with not much to eat and a bar café so we decided on coffee – it was 9.15 and the sun had started to gain enough strength to make us hot. Amazingly, despite the time everyone else there was having a beer, to order my coffee I had to wait before four people all ordering a half litre of beer. An older couple arrived, two glasses of wine and a beer, then four rotund men squashed into lycra arrived off out for a cycle but one had the misfortune of a puncture… solution? Head to a bar and all have a beer… by the time we had finished coffees (33 each for a small cup, just under a £) they had all had three pints (22 each, much less than a £) and there were still carrying out cycles of inflating and deflating the tire. We hardly doubt they made it much further than that village.

Following on along the smaller roads we had to make faster progress by taking a main road – more direct with less change in height. The only problem is that it came with much heavier traffic and more fuck you moments as perhaps 3% of the cars/trucks come close enough to change the direction you are travelling in. The roads were dull and unexciting, passing flat either through fields or swampy land in dead straight lines but the time passed quickly as we made good progress. The crossing into Slovakia was marked by a bridge over a river – we too the usual border post photo, but the roads deteriorated on the other side and the scenery changed little. Distance wise we did well, but it was an uneventful and fairly monotonous cycle.

Our target town Malacky is a non descript place with not much going for it. Our desire to be clean and wash some clothes led to the decision that we would treat ourselves to a hotel for the night but none could be found. Eventually the old soviet era monster of a concrete square was found tucked behind the equally square and concrete culture dom, it has been ‘done up’ but not to a point worthy of the price paid. We arrived hot and sweaty, tired after days of camping and cycling and decided that 40 euros was out budget, 50 possibly but the price was 56. No change, no non breakfast option, barely any acknowledgment from the stern faced surly woman behind the counter. We discussed, we relented. The renovations since the socialist town hotel it was are like a thin veneer of bad taste spread over even worse memories, a padded leather door to our room leads into something that can only be described as drab. Clearly there was not enough money available to change the lift, so the old open door, press a button and watch the wall move past one remains.

In all fairness its complete luxury, we have running water and we are cooking our dinner on the balcony surrounded by our dripping, no longer smelly clothes drying. Sheena has knocked up an amazing smelling chickpea and sausage of an undefined nature stew, and I cant wait to get stuck in!

A car stuck in a vine?
A car stuck in a vine?

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