Total Miles: 275
Rider: David French; Teacher, Member.
Summary: A friend and I biked for two weeks in Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, staying in B&Bs and taking trains to cover long distances in the short time we had.; Self-Planned
Health Issues: None
Motivation: We had never been to Eastern Europe before and wanted to experience cultures and cuisine more disparate than those in Western Europe.
Most Challenging Aspect:Language. Having often been assured by people we met along the way that they spoke Russian (which I speak), they invariably would reply in Czech or Slovak after I began speaking to them in Russian. Initially, this caused a bit of confusion, but compelled us to get creative and animated in our communications! At times in the Czech Republic, the only common language was German, in which I have only a "survival skill" level of ability. And in one B&B in Slovakia, there was a near complete lack of a shared language, yet with a few German words and a lot of finger pointing and head nodding, we managed to be well cared for and well fed. Our hosts were patient and quite gracious in accommodating us.
Favorite Experience: One of our most enjoyable experiences was sharing the four-hour train trip from Prague to Valasske Mezrici with a Czech mother, who spoke only Czech and Russian, and her high school-age daughter, who spoke Czech and English. Because my traveling companion spoke only English, we had to converse in three languages in a round robin fashion, beginning in English, then moving through Czech and Russian before reversing the process and starting all over again. Another outstanding adventure was cycling through the dramatic Tatras Mountains in southern Poland and northern Slovakia.
Least Favorite: Getting stuck in the mud up to our hubs on an unpaved stretch of the Danube River Trail near TheiB, Austria.
Tips: Take time out for Vienna and Prague and don't miss out on the beautiful mountain scenery in Slovakia. Southern Poland and the ski resort town of Zakopane were delightful! Bratislava was a disappointment.
Date Entered: May, 2006
Photo by Dennis Coello