Sunday, September 14, 2014

Muddy in Budapest.

Here I am in one of the great European cities - Budapest - and I can't get past the packed camping ground and its environs. You can't help rain, of course, so it's no one's fault that we're parked under a tree in a mud pit. But it's a bit disconcerting when you can't flush your morning's evacuations. 'It kept bobbing back up and staring at me.' Al shook his head in horrid disbelief, as did I, having had the same deal in the women's.

The women's was like some crowded steamy eastern bloc sorority house with a couple of wide eyed children staring at sad elastic confined cellulite. I wasn't about to add mine to the swill so I opted for the facilities in the van instead.

We drove for five and a half hours on B roads from Vienna - glory! - to get here. As soon as we were over the border we were on a massive criss-crossing motorway in a megalopolis - Bratislava. The traffic moved faster, lane swapping was rife and speed limits were treated with disdain. 

We came on the B roads believing we'd see more. Lots of corn fields spread around us, similar to those in Austria. However, it seemed shabbier. (Hard act for any place to follow.) Not much of interest in  the many villages we drove through. I'm sure they're all living their rich lives but there was little evidence of it. Lots of locals out on bikes gathering nuts along the highway added a bit of zest.

The long drive is due to 50, 70 and 90k speed restrictions, to which we adhered. Well, someone had to.

Our camping ground is 2k from the centre. I'm hoping to eat some humble pie after we get on the bikes and explore later today, but yesterday's brief foray around the campsite didn't bode well: dingy, mouldering blocks of flats, weeds growing through cracks in kerbs and footpaths, broken glass, litter. The local shopping mall was a tad depressing. Lots of old store mannequins staring off in bad wigs.

Yes, I know. I'm a spoilt, smug, arrogant westerner. But I'm just saying.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Klosterneuburg in the rain.

We're on day twelve of a five week tour of Europe and it's raining, hence my feeling inclined to write something about our trip.

Al has been banging on about cycling the Danube since we came to Europe in 2010 and I've been successfully persuading him to go to France instead. This year, however, I conceded. And here we are in Klosterneuburg, about 14k by bike to Vienna, along the Danube. But tomorrow, if the rain keeps up as promised by the forecast, we'll take the train.

'The rain puts a dampener on everything,' said Al, helpfully. Dampener: to dull or deaden; to depress. Perhaps for Al. Me? I'm on holiday in Europe, with the love of my life studying the camping book at the other side of the table in our luxury motorhome, once again rented from McRent in Sulzemoos near Munich. (Seamless pick up of the van, BTW.) 

What's more, I've got 150ml of Italian 'chardonnay' in a plastic beaker. Would have bought a wine glass, cos they're not provided by McRent - don't understand why not, guys - but have missed out on those Disneyland-esque French supermarch├ęs given we're not in France, so I haven't bought one.

Seems to be a rule about what an Austrian 'supermarket' can sell. Strictly groceries, well, at Billa and Spar, the grocery stores we've found along the way. No kitchenware, even at Aldi, which seems to sell lots of other paraphernalia. If I wanted a hi-vis jacket I'm in. A wine glass or a mug, not so much.

Have also been drinking tea and coffee from the same plastic beaker, given one of the heavy ceramic mugs was cracked. Was quite relieved actually. Thought I'd been dribbling.

Had a walk into town in our wet weather gear earlier. Think dorks in plastic ponchos, especially Al, with his 'I'm an Autralian' wide brimmed hat on top of his yellow plastic hood.

We circumnavigated an enormous significant cathedral. Ventured inside as a tour guide opened a steel grill to admit his three tourists then clicked it shut on us. He even did a little sneer as he locked us kids out of the main show. Not very Christian of him. Must have been the ponchos. 

I saw enough. Have gawped my way around sufficient cathedrals for a life time.

Wasn't a wasted trip. Found a shop that sold cheap ceramic mugs. Hurrah.

Also spotted a Chinese restaurant that looks promising for dinner. Spare me another schnitzel.

Probably should add that the 78k ride we did from Krems to Melk and back yesterday, in glorious weather on Al's 62nd birthday, is one of the best rides we've ever done. Blissful.