Thursday, 4 July 2019

The Great Spa Tour of 2019

During my previous visits to Hungary I always enjoyed the odd days spent in the famous spa towns Heviz, Komarom, Zalakaros etc.

When planning a biking tour for the 2019 European autumn I decided to make it into a spa-based tour, stay overnight to rest, discover interesting sights and depart the morning from towns with no spas, but stay 2-4 nights in towns with spas, use it as a base to discover the surrounding countryside and return in the soothing waters for a couple of hours before diner. It sounds like a plan, 8 spa-towns 22 days plus 8 overnight stopovers 10 days (in Hortobagy and Opusztaszer I will spend 2 nights, just too much to see for one afternoon).

My planed daily routine, check out of hotels at 9 am, check in next hotel 2-3 pm, that is 5-6 hours of sightseeing and commuting during the 40-60 km ride. Have a shower and a short rest get to know the town have diner and plan next day’s activities. It is better to be safe than sorry, so I do as much preliminary work as possible.

Hotels with a 3*+ rating usually have reasonable information and staff available all day till late evening to assist, apartments and guesthouses don’t, they might be open at predetermined times or just e-mail you a password to obtain your keys. The big bonus is of course a 30-60% lower price for the same quality room. Always try to get rooms rated above 8 out of 10 and located in proximity of well rated cafeteria and restaurants. With the broad outline of the planning done I can now focus on selecting the daily excursions and apply my efforts to the physical demands of the tour. My target is one third above the likely distance I need to cover (60km), so 80 km a day.

Melbourne bike path’s here I come.

Sunday, 18 June 2017


Hi there.

Final stop Budapest, just a ride through the outer suburbs to the eastern outskirts of the town through Godollo to Pecel my brothers home, here I will rest for a few days before I continue with the non cycling part of my trip.  I think the following photos represent a broad history of the city the Buda hills with Matyas Church the walls of the reinforced castle walls and the Royal Palace now a museum, from the past. 

The new water-sport center for the up coming World Championship is completed and has been tested with the the Hungarian Water-Polo and Swimming finals being held and televised from it. 

Most importantly the city's restaurants and cake shops are always ready including the 160 years old Gearbaud on Vorosmarty square, it could count on a visit from ' Sissy' wife of Emperor Franz Joseph and Queen of Hungary when staying in Budapest. 

All the best to all.  Tom.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

To Budapest

Hi there.

Riding from Gyor to Budapest over several days the quality of the track vary enormously from bush track unusable after some rain to roads with medium car traffic to first rate bike paths, so do the towns and villages along the way. The sister towns of Komarno in Slovakia with its old city center and Komarom in Hungary with its thermal spa and 3 fortresses definitely worth a visit, to relax in the 35 to 38 Celsius, thermal pool is an experience not to be missed.

Esztergom (pop over 30000) the capital of Hungary till king Bela 4th moved to Buda after a Mongol invasion in 1249, leaving his royal palace to the Catholic archbishop for it to became the center of Catholic faith in Hungary.
The basilica at Esztergom 
Crossing the Danube at Szob by ferry and back at Nagymaros to Visegrad we can make the best use of the bike tracks without missing the best views the river has to offer from the walls of the Visegrad fortress, if you are a masochist or extremely fit (3km road 350meter hill) you can ride up if not take a bus, a visit to the recently excavated royal palace at the base of the hill is an easy option.

Hotel-restaurant on the road
From Visegrad it is only a short ride to Szentendre (pop 26000) an artist colony of long standing, with its craft shops, studios and art galleries and its proximity to Budapest (24km) is a most popular excursion for local and foreign visitors.

All the best to all.    Tom.

Town-square in Vac

Friday, 2 June 2017

Szigetkoz and Gyor

Hi there.

I have been to Gyor before, as you can see on the photo it is a bike friendly town (bike station with pump and water).  

If they also had a tourist map connecting the internal bike paths to exit paths it could really be useful. It is my favourite mid size town (pop. 130,000), it sits at the confluence of the Mosoni Danube and Raba rivers.

It was always an industrial town surrounded by the Small-Alfold  on three sides and 'Szigetkoz' a large wet-land to the north, crisscrossed by lakes islands winding streams and rivers where the holiday-maker can put-up a tent or sleep in a luxury spa-hotel.

I never had the time to see the wet-lands before, now I walked and rode through some small villages and had a boat ride through some isolated spots. I highly recommend it. Invest in a can of mosquito repellent 1st.

All the best to all.       Tom.

Friday, 26 May 2017

To Vienna

It was not a bad day the wind died but going through the forest lots of small broken branches littered the path, only 48km to Melk (pop. 5300).

The Benedictines abbey.
The Babemberg princely family moved to Melk in 976 and made it the capital of the eastern borderland of the H.R.E., in 1089 Leopold the 2nd  gave his castle to the Benedictines who used it as the base for a new abbey. 

Nowadays it is a major tourist attraction and the abbey houses a school for 900 students. It is a must stop destination for Danube cruise ships.

The morning noise of rain woke me up, I knew the good weather would not last. Fortunately the rain was only light and I did enjoy riding through Austria's finest wine growing regions the "Wachau". Centuries old tradition of producing wines has turned the steep south facing slopes into terraces " stairs to the heavens" called by the locals, in more ways than one.

I arrived to Krems (pop. 24000) mid afternoon had a long hot bath (just in case you are wandering then I mention a long hot bath or shower I mean the politically incorrect 20-30 minutes experience not a 4 minute wash) and a good rest, a nice diner washed down with an excellent white.
The remains of the gate to Krems.

Klosterneuburg (pop. 25000) is just 13km from Vienna but as the 3 photos show it has just reason to want to remain separate.

All the best to all. Tom. 




Sunday, 21 May 2017

Passau to Austria

Hi there,

I left Passau this morning, the weather is fantastic, sunshine and a light breeze 22-26 most of the day. The surrounding is magnificent, the river winding between 2 steep mountain ranges and 90% of the bike path is 1st class. The traffic has increased in the last 2-3 days there must be 20-30 bikes crossing me each half hour last week it was one or two. 

I stopped overnight in a small village Inzell might have a population of 100, a couple hotels and a small caravan park. It was so quiet I slept through the whole night till 7am. After a good breakfast I got on the road with a couple of German bikers, friends from school (now in there 50's) living in different parts of Germany and they get together for a week each year for a biking tour. After about 25km they went their way and I continued to Linz (pop. over 190,000), the temperature went up to 34 Celsius at 3pm so I was happy to get in my hotel and after a shower and a rest visit the town.

I don't know why but I like much better the old parts of towns. The huge squares surrounded by baroque buildings and the Holy Trinity Column in the middle erected in 1700's as compared to all glass office buildings and 6-7 story apartment blocks in the new parts.

I have been passing through Mauthousen( pop.5000) established as a toll station in about 1000AD with a gruesome recent history. 

From 1938 to 1945 a Nazi concentration camp operated west of the town, initially most of the inmates were political prisoners from Austria and Germany who were used as slave labour in granite quarries, later prisoners arrived from other countries invaded by the Nazis many from Poland and the Soviet Union, approximately 100,000 prisoners died here.

It was after 3pm than I arrived in Grein (pop 3000) a medieval port, here barges were unloaded to be transported past the rapids of Studengau gorge. I am staying overnight in a very nice guesthouse and I can hear the wind hauling outside I hope it will calm down by the morning.

All the best to all. Tom.

Saturday, 20 May 2017


Passau, the City of Three Rivers, the confluence of the Danube and the Inn rivers plus the Ils river from the north created optimal conditions for the growth of the city. Originally a Celtic settlement, the Romans set up a colony on the south side of the Inn, when they left in the fifth century St. Severin established a monastery at the confluence.

Three centuries later it became a bishopric. From 1161 to 1803 Passau was an independent self-governing city within the Holy Roman Empire ruled by a prince-bishop. With secularization in 1803 the city became part of Bavaria.

After a devastating fire in 1662 most of the old-town was destroyed. The cathedral or commonly called the Dom, a baroque nave was added to the remains of the Gothic choir and transept (not that I noticed). It is the largest baroque church north of the Alps and the organ with nearly 18,000 pipes is the biggest in Europe, organ concerts are held daily in summer.

All the best,   Tom.