Tears. We all have them. Finally, the day of our departure arrived, but at what cost? When we take our final goodbye from friends and family nobody can hold back. The sudden realization of what is about to happen hits me: I won’t see any of these faces for a year. A freaking year! The last group pictures are taken, and there is no good reason left for delaying the dreaded farewell. I take a big gulp, and then..
“Bye Mum, please take care of yourself”, as I hug my mother for the last time. Tears.
The bikeriding part is easy, especially on this very first day. The sun’s shining and everyone’s in a good mood. Denis, a friend of ours, decided to join us and took a month off from work. Secretely, I’m wondering whether he will be able to cope with what’s coming. It’s not like Dominik or I are tough guys, not at all. But still, last year we rode the bikes to Romania (as a preparation for this main tour) and have at least a little experience in sleeping in a tent and going 100km per day. We know, at least to some extent, what awaits us. But Denis? He doesn’t know anything..
On the first evening, we build our camp directly at the Danube River near the city Melk. It’s not exactly allowed and we’re not really out of sight, but the view is nice. We have to sleep on stones because the camping site is too expensive.
The “Danube Cycle Route” is Europe’s most popular veloroute, connecting Germany to Romania. It’s popular, but it’s boring as heck, nevertheless. On the left side the Danube river, on the right side plain grass. For 200km. All you can do is turn off your mind and get the shit done. It’s the fourth time I’m taking this route, and I can’t really enjoy the beauty of the scenery anymore.
Bratislava in Slowakia is just a short stop on our way to Romania. As we arrive in the evening we treat ourselves with some slices of pizza in the city’s center. We must look terrible: sweaty, sunburned, tight bike shorts and loose, long-sleeved shirts. People look at us somehow interested, but generally avoid us. It’s funny how fast things change: one day you are a respected member of society, the other you’re just a weirdo with man leggings (they are bike pants, damn it! They really look weird, though).
In Komarno (Hungary) we treat ourselves to camping with thermal water (awfully smelling sulfur!). Right now, as I’m typing, we’re sitting in a Burger King in Budapest. It rained the whole day. We’re wet and cold. It’s still raining outside. We have to leave in a minute. My pants still smell like sulfur, but my nose is already used to the smell. The people around us? Better not ask them.
Romania, that’s the destination for now. Romania means grandmother. Grandmother means shelter, rest and food. Loads of food. And loads of food is good.