May 24, 2012 GMT
Big Big journey

So Berlin to Bratislava in one day? could it be done? well I knew a guy with a 'can do' attitude that was going to ride the 730km trip on his single cylinder thumper.

That man was me. I mean, really, is there anyone else as stupid?

So it was goodby the Amstel House Hostel, I had really enjoyed it there and had made some good friends. I think Betty was pleased to be getting moving again and we slid throught the morning rush hour traffice with few problems. It seems the Germans are quite happy to allow motorcycles to filter through standing traffic. I was out of the city and blatting down the Autobahn towards Dresden well before 9 am.

It was noticably cooler out of the city and I could leave Betty at a steady 130kph. The Kilometres just slid away, at that speed one kilometre is gone in 28 seconds! but ohh the concentration... because you may have someone coming up behind you at 200kph!

So around Dresden and, at last, some hills. Finally i left, Germany. My thoughts on the country... Hugely impressed, warm people, some lovely sites, a good sense of humour and broad shoulders in many senses of the phrase.

To into the Czech Republic. The hills were a refreshing site, huge areas of forest and bridges of deep wooded gourges. it looked like a very productive country, lots of industry and field after field of corn, very little livestock though. On the Prague, again at the now limited speed of 130kph and past lorry after lorry, German, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, the lot.....

Prague was going to be a problem as there was no ring road and I didn't have much of a clue on the language front. So it was eyes open adn follow the Euro road numbers. Czech road signs don't give you a lot of time to prepare for the impending turn off, but I finally too the sign for Brno and appeared to end up in an industrial estate, a little arrow pointed through an unsigned gap and on to the main motorway between the two main cities of the country. Proper bizare.

But I was on the right road, and at a reasonable time. Road conditions were slowly getting worse though. The passaage of so many truck had ridged the inside lane, if a trailer to a lorry was empty it was skipping over the ridges. Riding a bike at 130kph over this surface was very unpleasant. I tired to find a decent speed, but it had to be 110kph. The only other option was to stick to the outside lane, a lot of cars did this but it required a lot of 'mirror time' to spot people coming up behind.

I was beginning to make increasingly regular stops to reduce the pain in ones ass. Roadworks were great because I could stand on the pegs all the way through and provide some bum relief. Through Brno and onto the final 130km, the road was even worse but as soon as we got to Slovakia the road became fine. You pay a heafty motorway vignette (not appicable to bikes) if you want to use the motorway. I think some people have been shortchanged!!!!

So into Bratislava, the castle and 'UFO' bridge were easy to see and after a few wrong turns and bizare 'ad hoc' road junctions I ended up at Hostel Blues very close to the old town.

brat new view.jpg
The old town in Bratislava...

This area of Bratislava gives a feeling of slightly decaying old soviet styled apartment blocks and shopping areas, Saying that, it has a happy atmosphere. People are quite stoney, or should I say 'Slavic' faced, but just a few words with them and a deep warmth and sense of humor soon appears.

I asked at reception for a reccomendation for some good local food. Off I went to the Slovak Pub where I had, what I can only describe as a potatoe pancake with goulash inside it. a beer to wash it down and it came to 6.5 Euros.

I really really do feel like a stranger in a strange land now, I don't recognise the trees, the shrubs, the language is so different, nothing is even close to French, German or English and now stuff is really cheap. Some things arn't so bad then!

So I am enjoying a pint of beer for E1.26 and writing this I am sorry, I am going to sitch you now...... Nazdravie... as they say around here!

Posted by David Bailey at May 24, 2012 08:28 PM GMT

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