Day 12 – Bratislava to Tata – 134km

It felt like I’d barely made any progress over the last three days, I had two fairly short days plus an extra day in Vienna. Although I wanted to take things a bit slower on this trip anyway, I still got a bit restless. So today I wanted cover some distance again.

Thankfully the weather played along, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was already quite warm when I got up. After those few rained out days through Germany and Austria, the weather’s really turned now!

Sunday morning in Bratislava is very quiet, so getting out of town was relatively easy. It’s also a much smaller city than Vienna, so less than 10km after I set off, I was already in the countryside.

The roads in Slovakia are not exactly great, they ranged from barely ok to terrible, but at least there was very little traffic for most of today. Slovakia, or at least the part that I’ve seen, is remarkably flat. For some reason I always expected this to be a mountainous country, but there is not even the hint of a hill in sight, the whole place is as flat as a pancake!

Slovakia

I was a bit worried about finding food and drink supplies on the way, those are vital on a hot day like today. But thankfully this appears to be a lot less of a problem than in Germany or Austria. Shops in larger towns are open on Sunday and there are the odd petrol stations with shops.

Not that there were a lot of large towns. Slovakia feels like a very rural country, I only came across two towns of note today, neither of them particularly pretty. The smaller towns weren’t all that remarkable either. Outside of Bratislava, the country is pretty, but not really picturesque or remarkable.

I also got caught on some truely terrible unpaved roads a couple of times. Thankfully they never went on for very long, but one of them seems to have done some damage to my bike. Just as I was thinking how well it’s held up so far. Not a single issue, not even any punctures, since I left Switzerland. But then, just as I got off one of the rough unpaved roads, yet another spoke on my rear wheel snapped. F@%^! At least I can still ride it, but I’ll have to find a mechanic soon.

The last town I got to in Slovakia was Komarno, right on the border with Hungary and the largest town I’ve seen since Bratislava. I’d already done over 100km by that point, going along those flat roads really makes it easy to cover some distance!

Komarno, despite its size, felt a bit like a ghost town. It took me a while to find somewhere I could have lunch. There’s barely a centre to this town, even there it was quite deserted. That’s something I’ve noticed in a few places in the former Warsaw Pact countries, the mid-sized towns really don’t have a town centre to speak of.

Komarno – pretty much the only part of town that constitutes a centre

After lunch I crossed the Danube to head over to Hungary into a town called Komarom. I’m guessing those were historically the same town.

Welcome to Hungary

The Hungarian side, even though the town was a bit smaller, seemed a lot livelier. Surprisingly I also had to change some of my Euros at the bridge. Hungary is still using the Forint.

But I immediately liked Hungary! It’s not that I didn’t like Slovakia. Bratislava is a great city for starters. It’s just that the country is somewhat unremarkable, at least the little that I’ve seen. Hungary on the other hand looked great right from the start. The towns are prettier, the roads are better, even the landscape is prettier. There were some small hills and nice forrests right out of Komarom. The country also appears to be wealthier than Slovakia.

Lake Tata

It wasn’t long before I got to Tata, my overnight stop. The town is built around a beautiful lake and appears to be a popular tourist spot with the locals. There are lots of people camping here.

I’m only about 65km out of Budapest. Initially I was going to skip Budapest, I’ve been there before, but now that I need to find a bike mechanic, that’s probably my best option. Besides, it’s Budapest! One of the grand cities of Europe! So tomorrow is going to be another short day.

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