Monday, July 3, 2017

Budapest to Bratislava Train to Avoid Rain


If wind looked like fog, you would not be able to see the road in this picture. 
High winds every day.

On the train from Budapest, Hungary, to Bratislava, Slovakia, I sat in a 6-seat compartment with two women in their 70s. One was visiting relatives in Hungary. The other was going to all the way to Bratislava. It was her first time in the city, which is just 120 miles from Budapest. Martine said she was going to see a portrait of a family member from five generations ago in a Bratislava museum that a friend had told her about. She said she was going to look for a hotel when she arrived.  I got on hotels.com and gave her three places within 2km of the train station for under $60. She thought it was funny that you could do so many things with a phone. She just had a flip phone for emergencies and said, "I only use it to talk."

We talked about changing money and border security.  She had seldom been outside Hungary so even this trip to neighboring Slovakia was a big deal for her.  I told her where I had been in the last week. She had been to Yugoslavia when Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia were one, big, unhappy nation and to Serbia after the countries separated.

She had never been to Macedonia or Bulgaria. One of the things I learned in reading about the Soviet Union was how little most people travelled. The same would be true in country under Soviet domination. She was also worried about immigrants and refugees. She told me I should never take my eyes off my luggage. I left the compartment ten minutes before the station to get the bike ready to exit the train. Martine thanked me for the hotel info. She said again she had no idea these phones were so useful.

When I got off the train, I started to ride to Brno in the Czech Republic, 60 miles to the north. It was raining in Budapest when we left, so I took this train to Bratislava to get ahead of the rain. It was clear in in Bratislava, so that part worked perfectly.  I got on the bike and started riding. The rest of my plan then hit a literal 20 mph headwind.  I rode 36 hard, hilly miles in four and a half hours. It would be dark in an hour and a half. My plan to cover 60 miles before dark didn't look so good now. I crossed the Czech border and found a tourist hotel. The phone does so much for me, but it can't make me climb hills faster on a 60-pound bike in a headwind.

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