Monday 12.08.2013 236km Total:2793km
We only get about 60kms from Budapest until the Bears spider-sense tells him there's something wrong with the bike.
We turn of at a petrol station and start looking for the fault. It's turns out to be the master link on the chain.
While Bear removes the chain I go inside the petrol station and ask if there are any bike-shops near by.
A says in bad English (eg. worse than mine) that he knows a mechanic that can be there in ten minutes.
When something sound a bit too good to be true it usually is, the "mechanic" turns out to be a tow-truck driver who wants to put the bike on his flatbed and haul it back to Kawasaki in Budapest.
It wasn't a very appealing proposition either time-wise or money-wise for such a simple fault so while Bear negotiates the fee for the non-service with the tow-truck driver I get on a restaurant wifi and start looking for bike-shops where I can get hold of a new master link or a new chain.
Said and done, Bear gets hit with a fee of €30 for the tow-truck and I head of towards Budapest.
Meanwhile the tow-truck driver (whose English was even worse than the petrol-guys) knew about a bike-shop a lot closer than Budapest and hunts me down on the highway and signals me to follow.
We eventually end up in a small town called Tata at a bikeshop called Pink motors where the women behind the counter even though she could speak a word of English managed by looks alone deliver the message loud and clear that Bears Biltema chain wasn't the kind of products they sold here and that her quality master link would be just as incompatible with that crap chain as a cast-less and a maharaja.
So she wanted to sell me a new DID chain which I obviously accept gracefully as I'm assured it will fit the bike and reach for my Visa since we're all out of HUF:s.
Turns out cash was a word she knew so I need to ride a couple of miles to a Tesco to get money from an ATM but I had to wait for a couple of guards to load the machine before I could get any money.
At least I think they where security guards but judging by tempo at which they worked I can't rule out that it was a couple of sloths in G4S uniforms.
I get that cash, pick up the chain and head back to the Bear where we mount the chain (or Bear did, I was mostly just moral support at that point).
Since it now about lunch time we get some food before riding on, in total we've been at this spot for about three and a half hours.
We arrive in Bratislava at about 5PM.
We check in with a very helpful receptionist and hit the town after the usual routines.
Since we had a late lunch we thought we'd at least go for one of the main sights before supper and since you couldn't miss the castle on the hill overlooking the town it felt like a given.
On site we sit down at the café on the castle grounds and get a couple of apple and cinnamon lemonades, apparently Slovakians are very fond of lemonade since you could get it most anywhere.
The Bear had an ice-cream and I had an espresso. A real caffeine bomb in a thimble format.
I really need to try and wean of caffeine because at this point the next logical step will be injecting it straight into the bloodstream.
After exploring the castle and the grounds we by means of a real intricate system of stairs get back to town and tonight's restaurant tip, Bratislava Flagship.
It's the biggest restaurant in town with 500 seats, they've pretty much built in a whole city block.
I ask for just about anything dairy-free and get a recommendation of pork and dumplings.
I seems to be pretty much white bread with some kind of sauce with the main ingredient being cabbage.
Let's just say that it had an "exotic" taste and washed down with a pint of beer it was edible.
After supper we wander around town aimlessly but end up at a "rock café", we where real suckers to fall for that for they had a repertoire that even makes Hard Rock Café seem hardcore but the at least the beer was good.
After that we head back to the hotel to get some much needed rest for tomorrow long leg of the trip.
Tuesday 13.08.2013 486km Total:3279km
The alarm wakes us at 8AM and we stumble down to breakfast where I with an unusually bad appetite eat very little.
Turned out to be just as well because my stomach rejected the breakfast as soon as we got back to the room.
It takes more than just a few beers to cause that effect so I'm pretty sceptic about yesterdays supper being dairy-free.
A pretty bad start to a cloudy day. It looks light it might be the first day riding in rain which doesn't bode well since we have about 500kms to go.
The shortest route from Bratislava to Krakow is through the Czech Republic but I didn't go to Slovakia to ride in CR so we refute that route in favour of the hopefully more scenic rout through a small mountain massive called The High tatras.
On the way we find out that the Slovakians have found out that you can actually turn in higher speed too as there's long sweeping curves after another on the 130km/h highway.
It was good fun and a nice flow without any pileups.
We just get farther and farther into the outback until we're out in the real boondocks where I'm pretty sure they've never seen our particular shade of pink skin before.
The road across the Tatras was very nice even though the road surfacing was doubtful, it looked like they'd fixed potholes by throwing out pancakes of asphalt in psychedelic patterns, it made for some pretty exciting riding.
Across the border the first thing greeting us is Polish border guards peering at the border through binoculars.
After a few kms there a women walking a couple of cows on the sidewalk and soon thereafter the smell of burning garbage hits us like punch in the face.
The prejudices of the former east are confirmed one after another.
About 20kms from Krakow the rain starts that's been threatening us all day, we had incredible luck with the weather with it being overcast for almost 500kms without getting soaked.
We arrive at the hotel, check in and ride the bikes to their secure parking before showering and heading to old town to find a restaurant.
We find an appetising menu at Staropolska by the square and order a beer-roasted porkknuckle each, I have no idea if it's Polish but it was good and dairy-free.
My references must get jumbled very easy because I sat their freezing like a dog even though it probably was 20°C so I would probably have been better off skipping the dessert of frozen strawberry puree with vodka (we're in Poland after all) and lime but it looked so good on the menu!
With that dessert in my belly I'm almost shivering uncontrollably so when Bear suggests we should head back to the hotel I'm not arguing.
Wednesday 14.08.2013 0km
After breakfast we head for Krakows main attractions Wawel hill and Wawel castle, dated sometime in the middle ages and like most of Krakow practically undamaged by the WWII bombings.
They've divided the castle in to subsections where you pick from a menu what you'd like to see.
We opt for "State rooms”, ”Crown treasury and armoury”, ”Lost Wavel” and since the Bear must have been bitten by a mountain goat when he was a child and always need to go to the highest point we also chose something called ”Sanomierska tower”.
I can feel a migraine coming already at breakfast so I'm in a bit of an "everything sucks"-mood but after the Lost Wavel and the tower we get some coffee and some sugar in form of a fruit salad.
The Bear gets cream with a hint of ice-cream and cream with taste of ice-coffee.
I get a cup of coffee and an espresso as a shot with my coffee in the hopes of the caffeine taking the edge of the migraine.
It might have been just low blood-sugar but whatever it was the refill helps so I definitely see the second part of the tour in a brighter light than the first.
After going through "state rooms", the treasury and the armoury it's time for lunch.
Since the service was good and the waitresses where nice there's really no reason to go elsewhere so we head back to the castle café for a light lunch.
I get more coffee for dessert and true to his game the Bear gets cream with a hint of something.
After the castle we wander around the city before venturing into the Jewish quarters which where supposed to be an attraction.
If ugly houses and bad restaurants is your thing I guess it might be but since I'm not of that particular persuasion it was extremely underwhelming.
There's a city map posted with the Oscar Schindler factory so we head there but it's so anonymous that we actually walk right past it before realizing we're there.
Since it's already closed for visitors we snap a few pretty meaningless shots of the exterior basically just to prove that we've been before starting the (long) walk back.
I'm starting to feel that the statute of limitations on the whole Hungarian taxi incident has past now so I've started whining about cabs again but the Bears insurmountable hatred for all things taxi is as strong as ever so walking it is.
After a half-marathon we're back in Old town and wander around until we find a restaurant that can satisfy a dairy-free stomach.
After the traditional Slovakian meal I really don't care about eating local just now if I'm not going to keep it down so I go multicultural and order a steak with fries and weissbier.
Wined and dined we head back to the hotel and on the way we're met by the clear and strong vocals of a soprano singing outside St Michaels Church.
It's a street musician who just decided to stand there and sing to make a bit of money but she is so crazy talented she'd make an x-factory jury break down in tears.
I was completely blown away and all but emptied my wallet there and then.
Here singing lingered after us for a city block and was a perfect finish to our stay in Krakow.