The trouble with Europe is that the countries are too small.  In a week and a half I spun my pedals in five different countries.  It's great for getting a strong sense of progress but as soon as you have learnt to say "hello" and "sorry, I don't speak your language" in one country, you're into the next one and have to try to learn to say what is resoundingly obvious all over again!  There are other issues which arise as each country runs things differently.  For example, Hungarians don't seem to believe that bridges provide a sensible way to cross rivers, therefore once you have found a ferry to take you across, waited for the crew to finish their lunch, found out that you need a ticket (only available from a shop hidden across the road), waited for the ferry to finish crossing the river and return again as by this point you have missed it, waited for the crew to finish their next coffee break, you are able to progress across the short stretch of water.  The Croatian Trades Description Act seems to be sporadically enforced as pizzarias don't always serve pizza yet some bars have signs advertising 'lousy music' which is certainly more accurate!  However, each country brings it's own charm with the beauty of the Slovenian mountains, the fast flat roads of Croatia and Hungary, with the good old horse and cart, and with the occasional main road displayed on my GPS which fades into just a farm track.  I am delighted that Central and Eastern European citizens seem to appreciate ginger beards and lycra as I am becoming increasingly stared at wherever I go!

I recently arrived in Transylvania and so far the closest I have come to a vampire was a dead bat at the side of the road.  There was no wooden stake through the heart so I'm guessing it was either sunlight or a lorry that finished it off!  Just as a precaution, I am currently doing my research by reading Dracula whilst relaxing in a beautiful, newly refurbished hostel to myself.  There was a mix up with the booking as it's closed this week, but the owner left me with the key, a guitar, an 11th century church building and the freedom to listen to Miles Davis at full volume!

My journey is going to take a more restful turn over the next few weeks as I take a break to apply for my Russian and Chinese visas so don't worry if you don't see much progress, I'm probably not dead!

Finally, the rumours of me being a bit of a jessie are gathering strength as I have discovered just how much I hate creepy crawlies!  The bugs are becoming increasingly prevalent and larger in size the further I head east.  The time taken to strike my tent in the morning is growing as a result of me performing larger and more extravagant flappy dances to get them off me and my tent!

28/04/2011 13:12

Love it as usual! And great progress! All the best with the visa applications and the teaching English bit! Don't let your reading frighten you re: vampires though (wooden stakes, garlic .... keep them handy at all times!) You'll of course be delighted with Utd's 1st leg performance, and looking forward to the Royal Wedding later - have you found a Brittish Street Party to join?
Keep well & safe and be in touch soon!

10/05/2011 12:42

Chris, great to hear you're immersing yourself in local culture (Miles Davis?). Good luck with the Visas, I guess you couldn't apply for them too early?

I'm reading a good book at the moment that may appeal for some kindle time: Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich, an ultramarathoner who ran from SF to NY. Well worth the download.


Leave a Reply.