Total Km: 3621
We left Vienna in sunshine, made all the more surprising by the smattering of snow the day before, for Slovakia. It’s incredible how something as simple as a fictitious line drawn on a map can have such far reaching ramifications. As soon as you cross the old border point, scattered with the odd brothel and casino in no mans land of course, the paved tarmac of Austria becomes riddled with shoddily repaired potholes and the old rundown communist apartment blocks begin their never ending march along either side of the street only ever broken by the inevitable Starbucks or McDonalds.
Bratislava itself is an intriguing dichotomy of communism meets western democracy. One can easily stroll from dilapidated buildings and crumbling facades into the tourist old town of pristine cobbled streets. It’s actually a really charming place and we had a great afternoon exploring, finished off with some live jazz in a old vaulted basement, plastered wall to ceiling in graffiti.
One of the best quotes on the trip to date has to be Bruce over the intercom when we’re wondering if we’re actually allowed in the old town. We were in fact but the logic still makes me chuckle…
“Look mate, there’s a skateboarder, if he can go down there so can we..”
Leaving Bratislava the next morning our old friend the weather, who had been treating us rather well of late decided not to play ball. It was as if winter had reared its ugly head in one final goodbye before springs thaw. Sheets of rain endlessly fell with temperatures dropping below 4 degrees, causing what was a planned day of lazy country roads through the Slovak country side to turn into a race between us getting to Budapest and the slow but inevitable creep of water up the sleeves and down the pants. The water, I’m afraid to say, won… It was a day of endurance and although bone cold has taken on a new meaning for us we both arrived in the beautiful Budapest absolutely soaked to the core but with massive grins on our faces.
You may have noticed that there were a fair few more days in the total thi post, well you can thank Budapest for that one. It swept us up into days spent soaking up the sights, relaxing in the baths and roaming the streets and then magical nights that never seemed to end, half remembered conversations, beautiful faces and laughter until it hurt. I’m a little bit in love with Budapest and it was a close call as to wether or not we’d ever leave that melting pot of culture and intrigue.
A couple of highlights being the famous as well ruin pubs, situated in dilapidated buildings with rooms stretching from crazy to just downright bizarre. These maze like buildings can be anything from clubs, pubs to Sunday markets all with their own special character and charm. The other being a spectacular night cruise down the danube where Budapest becomes a sparkling creature of historic buildings and bridges that gently reflect off the water. The amount spent on lightbulbs is unfathomable..
Its now off through Romania and Bulgaria with a bit of a Rush to get to Istanbul due to some complications with the Chinese visa.. Our run of good luck with the visas had to come to an end at some stage.