by Robert Menhart, Deutschland, 2003
Saturday, 02. 08. 2003.
We(my collegue, 31 and i, 36) started on a hot summer afternoon – approx. 30 degrees at 5:15 pm from my hometown Gangkofen, land circle Rottal-Inn. We cycled to Massing, 8km away, because in Gangkofen there is no Train station; we took the 9 Euros train tickets of the German DB (per person, to take a train is very expensive in Germany) to Sulzbbach at Inn. At 7:15 pm we were the only guests leaving the train in a deserted village and cycled in ˝ an hour toNeuhaus at the Inn. Over the Inn bridge you get without boarder control to the upper Austrian Schärding. After a break at the beautiful market place of Schärding, about 8:30 pm we cycled to the train station, to catch the last train to Linz. In the train–because the information desk was closed in Schärding and ther was no ticket machine not functionate-we solved the problem with the kind conductor of the ÖBB, a group ticket to Linz, 23,50 Euros for two persons, inclusive bicycles; the ÖBB shows itself very cyclist friendly. It was already night when we arrived Linz train station, but the temperatures were still high, so we walked in T-Shirts, shorts and sandals in the down town of Linz. The was our outfit during the whole tour – the century summer 2003 gave us daily sunshine and temperatures about 30 degrees ! We wanted to have dinner at the “Josef`s“ , but while drinking the first beer , the delicious buffet closed at 10:30 pm, so what we could eat was a pizza fast food or the 100 m away Mc Donalds. We decided to take th second option.
Sunday, 03.08. 2003.
At about 1 am we drove back to the train station and seeked a overnight for 2 ˝ hours. We found two long banks, but they were occupied by other cyclists who waited also for the 269 Euro night to Budapest, departing from Linz at 3:43 am. This train takes bicycles , if you have a proper reservation for that, which I got a couple of days before for a price of 5,20 Euros at the DB. I also bought the tickets in Germany, i could get them on the information desk at the station in Linz till 11 pm. A little bit tight, but quiet was the tripe over Vienna, Györ to Budapest. With a delay of 10 minutes we arrived at 9:15 am at the Budapest Keleti (Train station, built in the 19 century, worth seeing). At the train station there were also many cyclists on their way. The only opened exchange office you had to wait 10minutes, I found a hidden money exchange machine where you could quickly get a couple of necessary Forints, but my collegue already stood in the queue . We cycled out from the train station to the way Rakoczi ucta to the Elisabeth bridge. At this time there still was not so much traffic , as we could think at Sundays the capital wakes up not until noon. We had breakfast in a café in a side street shortly before the Elisabeth bridge, many cafes open at Sundays no sooner then 10 am. At 11 am we could start. Through some side streets we cycled at the Danube shore all monuments of Budapest in sight: the Fortress, Fisherman fortress, Elisabeth bridge, Chain bridge, Hotel Gellert,… first along the left side of the Danube shore (Belgrade rakpart), following at the „Közraktar“ and of course the National street 5 (Soroksari ut), a many tracks exit street led us out of the city. We turned left according to the very good signs after Csepel and then right over the bridge we cycled on the island Csepel. You should think wisely if you will join the car traffic or try the pedestrian with walker traffic light, depending on the traffic condition . At the Csepel peninsula, the way led us through the Budapest outskirt county, straight along the railway , then left , again along the train platform. After the city boarder , you continue on a earth road, howerver, there was heavy traffic , but at least there were no trucks.
Over Halasztelek, Tököl we drove (left) to Rackeve (beautiful place with Castle, Minicipal house, several Churches ).In Rackeve we didn’t dare to drive more to the south on the Csepel island and lean on a descripition in the Hungary Tourist information prospect about a crossing for cyclists to the mainland , on a Power plant facility. A passer by , who we asked , thought that the way to Makad was a blind alley. So we cycled on a nice and quiet land road to Lorev and took the ferry which drove us to the right side of the Danube shore ( departing every full hour ). We came quickly to the National road 6, but it is forbidden for traktors, trucks and also bicycles to drive ! We decided to take the way parallel to this street. This road become worse, many holes on the way and went away from the main street more and more, so the ride became long and heavy. But you still could drive along the Danube and this was a rare opportunity on other roads. In the village Kulcs we returned to the main road and cycled against the rules on that Dunaujvaros. Duaujvaros is unattractive industrial city , the downtown consists of streets in a Socialistic Outfit. We found an accommodation possibility in the oviously only hotel in the city “Dunaferr, 1*“, situated in a socialistic city block , but very good service and cheao enough, credit card payment was possible too. At the main stret and some side streets there where many nice pubs and good and cheap dining possibilities.
Route length of the day: 78 km
Monday, 4. 08. 2003
After breakfast in a cafe (in the hotel there was no breakfast), we started at 9 am. From the centre we went to a radial route going south , through a industrial area, but mostly there is a separated bicycle track beside the road. We came to the N6 again and decided to drive despite the prohibition on this street to Dunaföldvar. We easily progressed , the street was wide enough, so the trucks and cars had enough space to pass us by. At Dunaföldvar we turned left to tje centre. This city was nice and as the right solution for a longer break and overnight (pensions, private rooms, café ). After a comfortable break, we drove on a road with less traffic over Böicske and Madosca to Dunakmlöd. There we came to the N6 again. 2km we wanted to pass by a ferry first and then change to the left Danube shore. The ferry by Parks goes every hour , except 1 pm. We came at 12:15 pm . So we skiped the quiet land streets left from the Danube, and continued cycling on the N6 and turned left at the Dunaszentgyörgy, 14km fro the ferry at Gerjen. With that ferry, we crossed to the left side of the Danube and made a short break under the shadow in a open beer garden. In the neighbour Kalocsa, according to signing there should be a overnight accommodation possibility. A german speaking citizen told us the way to the Danube dam ( forbidden to drive!), but we droveon that way of course – quiet and easy – partly on gravel road, partly on tared road with little traffic always along the Danube and so the whole 40km to our route goal: Baja. Here there are several hotels in the beautiful city centre. We decide to take a overnight in the cheap pension “Kolibri”, very near to the hotel “Duna”. Only deficit: in the rooms on the loft it is very hot in the summer.
Route length: 110 km
Tuesday, 4. 08. 2003.
After brakfast in the pension my collegue needed a spare part for his bicycle . The host of the pension recommended us a bicycle shop nearby, where it was rapidly fixed and the mechanical noticed this as a service and wanted no charge for it and refused to take a tip! Then we continued from Baja in south way out and turning right to Szeremle and on the eastern entrance we turned away and cycled on the Danube dam to Mohacs.Mohacs is a beautiful and hospital city ( pensions, café, restaurants). After a lunch break, we cycled on the street, way Osjek , to the boarder Udwar. Before , we made a excursion (1km) to the memorial city , memory of the fight against the Turks . These sightseeing should definitely be made on this trip. The boarde to Croatia was without any problems, the staff on both sides aksed very friendly and interested about the aim of our trip . Only problem: Because of a holiday in Croatioa, all banks and exchange offices were closed on this side of the boarder, so we walked back to the Hungarian side and changed money (Croatian Kuna). On the street we droveover Beli Manastir to Osjek, 30 km from the boarder. The landscape through which we drove are functional , everywhere there were little shops and a possibility to make a stop at the Inn ! In Osjek on the Drau there was the possibility to swim, cycle, inline skating, Osjek is a beautiful city with many parks and a history town. Only many bullet holes in the house anterior tell about what happened here in the years 1991 and 1992 ! We took a room in the we think, best hotel of the city hotel “Osjek”, 2* for 33Euros with a magnificent view on the Daru shore. For the evening, there are many good bars , especially I the old down town and many cafes on the Danube shore , where you can comfortly eat and drink. The night life at this summer evening was very active.
Route length: 95 km
Wednesday, 5. 08. 2003.
After the breakfast the tour continued on the middle to heavy jamed street on the way to Vukovar: 12km straight , new rebuilt and signed, on the right side still warnings of mine fields ! In all the places though which we drove, there were many shops, malls and small bars. At Borovo/Vukovar we followed the signs to Ilok, which led us to a street which take us away from the way to Vukovar. In a outskirt of Vukovar you could still see destroyed houses, but there is also a line of rebuilt houses, completely new. EU - signs inform about a rebuilding
EU-Programme in Croatia. The construction occupation is very lively in this region. In the following places Sotin, Opatovac and Sarengrad there are always narrow fall offs and uphill
( mostly 8%) . Before Sarengrad there is a beautiful view on the Danube to enjoy in ! In Ilok, the last city before the boarder crossing, Wine area, we made a lunch break in a beautiful restaurant with beer garden, wine basements and wood oven pizzas. In Ilok a hotel was signed. Then we drove to the boarder, Croatian pass control, long bridge over the Danube, then serbian pass control , there were no problems worth of mentioning , only more bureaucracy . In the boarder place Bocka Palanke ( Note GTZ Serbia-Backa Palanka) there was an overnight accommodation possibility , we changed in a exchange office money in Serbian Dinar and drove way to Novi Sad. A motorcyclist drove beside me and spoke to me very interested and kind about our tour and everything possible to ask about ! In Novi Sad we drove into the city centre and took a room in hotel „Putnik“, double room for 56 Euros with breakfast, hospital and kind staff , who spoke English fluently , and also possible to pay with credit cards ! In the evening we asked for the train station and a train connection from Belgrade to Subotica on the day after tomorrow. An English speaking employee translated our request and we become the information from Belgrade at 8:20 am. Also in Novi Sad there are fine restaurants, many bars and ice cream cafes .
Route length: 123 km
Thursday, 6. 08. 2003.
Last route to Belgrade : from the centre of Novi Sad we lean on the signs way to Belgrade, over the Danube bridge ( right you could see a ponton bridge , which was established as a substitute of the from the NATO destroyed Bridge in 1998), then we drove through the nice old down town of the city in the oustskirts of Novi Sad to Petrovaradin. A kind waiter in the hotel draw us, that at the crossroad to a highway to Belgrade we should follow the signs on the way to Petrovaradin. The street lead us to Sremski Karlovci, the 8% angle 5km up on a hill. Then we drove on a concrete road , way to Belgrade. We had more difficulties with the heavy traffic then with the bad roads, very small tracks, tight, trucks in the oppostie way drove near passing us. Although , they did not drive so careless, this was one of the most dangerous parts on our tour. Also in Serbia the traffic is increasing rapidly it seems.At this point it was to consider, for tours in the future if it was not better to take the smaller lan roads on the left side of the Danube ( Note GTZ Serbia: the recommended route of the Danube cycle route passes the mentioned problems and uses smaller Beska-Krcedin-Stari Slankamen-Banovci-Batajnica . The whole Danube cycle route is on the Internet under www.donau-info.org to be viewed and can be used as a eight part map- Huberkartographie )
Over Indija and St. Pazova we came into a outskirt of Belgrade. On the left side a dam could be seen , on which a very good cycle path is going. The cycle track turns to a island on the Danube and then along the tributary the Sava. It is adviced to take the last smaller bridge before the railway bridge over the Sava, but as we figured out, no possibility to get onto the bridge .( Note GTZ Serbia: The big Branko bridge can bee reached if you come from Novi Beograd and stop before the bridge on the right side and then use the wide walking zone path on the bridge). On the other side of the bridge, you can reach a special cyclist elevator which doesn’t work always. Then better use the walking track on the other bridge side and follow the street which turns right under the Sava river. Look at the description on our website:„We arrive to a bridge, which leads over the Sava to the down town of Belgrade. We leave the way along the river shore , before it goes on under the bridge – there is an asphalted road , which takes you away from the river and goes parallel to the bridge. We come to a heavy jammed Boulevard , turn immediately (180 degrees) and come to a bridge, on which left side we reache the city centre. On the bridge there is a passant path . On the shore across , we notice a promenade and a cycle route , which takes us to the mouth of the Sava ito the Danube – exactly till there we should get. Here on the bridge, there is a special cycle elevator, which makes us the drive much quicker and easier. Unfortunately, this elevator has no working hours – if we have no luck, we have to drive to the shore downhill o streets which begin on the bridge entrance (short hint: on the traffic light change to the right side of the bridge and drive back some 100 m : here there is a branching that will lead us to the right way).“
Passing the bus station we reach the main train station of Belgrade We organised on the spot the return trip home: At the information desk a fluently speaking employee told us that here could be bought only international travel tickets , to Subotica it is regional trafficking and we had to go to the ticket selling desk behind the corner. But there was whether English nor German spoken. About taking bicycles no one would tell us a word. Backto the international desk in a other station hall, that it was closed, working hours till 4 pm. It was 4:30 pm .Maybe here was the possibility to drive directly over Hungary, Austria or even over Germany.So we bought two tickets to Subotica, inclusive reservation for 2 sitting places the next day. Departing 8:20 am.
We stayed in the hotel „Astoria“ near to the station, a little bit untidy, but very cheap. In the evening , we went up to the city centre and had dinner in i must say very small number of restaurants. Also in Belgrade you can find many bars, fast food restaurants but no real restaurants to take a meal.
Friday, 7. 08. 2003.
Already before 8 am , after breakfast we went to the train station. It was interesting, if they would accept our bicycles. The train, departing on 8:20 am, was ready. We placed our bicycles behind the main locomotive, in the entrance room , in this room were also our reservations. A younger employee had nothing against our bicycles. Shortly after 8 am the chef conducter took s out saying “No bicycles !” It must have been a alternative to send them per post or luggage wagon , this was explained to us in Serbian, but we couldn’t understand anything at all. Although there was enough time, no one was ready to show us where we could bring our bicycles to. We act “stupid”, at a specific time, they asked for our tickets, and the annoyed chef let us take our bicycles, probably because of our fully reservation. We were very glad when the train deoarted at 8:20am form the train station and our bicycles still standing in the separate room. While the ticket control, we were charged extra 400 dinars, probably because of the big luggage we had with us , but a bicycle ticket costs the same at our home town. (Note GTZ Serbia: Unfortunately such exoerience wuíth the railway are possible, The Serbian railway has some unprofessional employees and there are now specific rules considering bicycle transport in trains). In Subotica, Arrival 11.30 am, we made a coffee break in the beautifull old town , before we cycled 11km to the Hungarian boarder. The passing to Hungary was without any problems. In Hungary we made a appointment with our family members and the trip continued by car with bicycle transport over Baja, 2 day Plate lake,New inhabitant lake back to Bayern.