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Mogs Travels: June 2008

Mogs Travels

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Rideout

It's Sunday and the sun is shining, so as all good bikers do we went for a ride. We picked a route that gave plenty of opportunity to see the countryside, but also took in a castle. The ride was superb, the views spectacular, and the roads spectacular. The road surfaces were very variable, and I was glad that the Gs1200, has pretty good suspension. The first photo tries to give an impression of the wonderful scenery. Wooded hillsides, and hay meadows everywhere.

The castle at Krisna Horka was in a superb location, but inside was a little disappointing. One gruesome object was the mummiified remains of one of the early owner's wife. Apparently it happened naturally, but I can't understand why they then chose to put it on show!

After this a spot of lunch. vegetable soup, followed by stuffed pepper and boiled potatoes for 3 euros! The last couple of hours of riding took us up and down wooded slopes and through many villages. Several looked rather run down, and it was noticeable that the darker skinned Roman people always seemed to be in the poorer areas.
Even though the villages were poor, the local churches seemed to be fairly prosperous as can be sen from the photograph of the church below. LB

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lomnicky Stit & Spissky Hrad

Ok first a translation - L Stit is the peak we can't see from the campsite as it always covered by cloud. A hrad is a castle & we visited the one at Spiss.

Had an earlyish start & rode only about 5km to Stary Smolkovec where the cable car went up the mountain.

The top is at about eight & a half thousand feet but we chose to go only as far as the station 2/3 of the way up. Luckily while ther the cloud cleared so we could see the top .

We had planned to walk down but the path was very rough with big stones so difficult walking. We didn't want to risk a sprained ankle so had a walk around the lake at the top, a cold drink in the cafe then took the cable car back down. The views from the top were fantastic, a 180 degree panorama of the lowland plain and distant hills. The photos don't do it justice.

Back down we had a bite to eat and the set off for the castle at Spissky which we had failed to reach yesterday. this was visible from a couple of miles away and reminded us a little of Harlech in the way it was poised on a rocky outcrop.

We spent an hour or so there listening to the audio tour and admiring the views of typical Slovak countryside.

Then back to the campsite via Tesco again. There were a couple on a GS pitching their tent who we got chatting to ( as you do!) They're Slovakian & the first people we've met here who speak English. It was so nice to have a chat, adrink together, compare bikes & swap stories. They're hoping to ride from Kenya to Cape town next year which is really adventurous!

Anyway we're feeling happier here. Tesco's was a great discovery as we can self cater, the foods really cheap and the meat is so much tastier than home. We've also found a better toilet block on the campsite so I'm happier. There's still loads of insects but we get our own back by smoking them to death, or at least shoo them away. The countryside is wonderful and there's a lot of history and sites to visit so we've decided to stay a few more days. Watch this space!


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Friday, June 27, 2008

It had to be Friday!

We had a lie in this morning, and then decided to catch up on some clothes washing, and also blogging. By the time this was all done it was almost 14.00 so we decided to visit <>Spiss castle. Unfortunately Mr.Zumo wasn't in a good mood, and we ended up going in the wrong direction. The weather appeared to be closing in so we decided to get some food and head back. We called into the local Tesco and bought a few bits and pieces, and most importantly some BBQ charcoal. Back at the campsite we noticed water leaking from Elvie's bike. Closer inspection revealed that the top hose from the radiator had come loose. So off with the body work, and then replace the hose. Little water lost, but it did look like the bike had had a bit of an accident! See damp patch in photo.

Then on to more important matters. The BBQ. I decided after cooking the meal that I would put some green wood on the barbie to discourage insects. As you can see from the photo my first attempt wasn't entirely successful, however my technique did improve. Had a great meal, and now after washing up a quick fix on line and off to bed. LB

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Dunajec Gorge

Remember Michael Palin in his latest programme about Europe when he rafted to Slovakia from Poland? Well, he cheated a bit! The Dunajec River forms the border between the two countries and you can take a raft from either side but each finishes in the country you start from. Also Palin had a raft to himself on an empty river. There were 17 of us on a wooden raft supposedly for 12 people! The river was full of other rafts and canoeists.

Anyway it was brilliant! The scenery of the limestone gorge was dramatic and although the commentary was in Slovak we were given a booklet with the information in English.

After a pleasant 2 hours on the river we disembarked and walked a short way to the bar for a soft drink then hired two pushbikes to take us the 9km on the riverside path back to the start.

We had some more refreshments there before getting back on the motorbikes for the journey home. We had taken the scenic route to get there in the morning but decided to let the gps take us home by the quickest route. Ooops! Big mistake! It took us down 18km of the worst road we have ever ridden - huge potholes, lumps and bumps, and loads of gravel! We had to pick our way through the least bad bits of tarmac! It was quite a relief to get back to the campsite.

Today we're having a quiet time, reading, catching up on the net, washing our smalls etc! Further exploration is planned for tomorrow.


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Slovakia & camping

It was an epic ride on Wednesday to reach the high Tatras in Slovakia. We were on the road 7 hours to travel just 200 miles. It took over an hour to get out of Budapest, we had a few unplanned diversions and once in Slovakia the roads deteriorated considerably which slowed us down. The scenery is beautiful however with huge meadows, fields of ripening corn and wooded hills.

We'd found a nice looking campsite online and were pleased to let the gps take us straight there as we were both tired. We've booked in for 4 nights but unfortunately the site is pretty poor. It's huge, empty and most of the advertised facilities don't exist.

Fortunately the internet is available as advertised. a lot of the buildings are derelict, the washing facilities are basic to say the least and we're plagued by hover flies all day and midges in the evening! At least the grass is short, the pitch flat and we have the most magnificent view of the high Tatras. I'll get a better photo if the cloud clears from the top!

Yesterdays trip can have a post to itself.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Moving On

Another very hot ride this morning. I do not like going pillion at the best of times and found it most uncomfortable today. It was a great relief to both of us to reach the BMW dealers,pick up the 1200 and ride away individually, on our own bikes. We came back to the Bikercamp and booked a room B&B for the night. We've sorted the stuff we left here, unpacked my bike and repacked everything ready for the morning. Originally we had intended only spending a few days in Budapest then moving out of Hungary. This is our 11th night here but we have thoroughly enjoyed it all and have no regrets ( although the wallet is considerably lighter!)

We've picked a fairly simple route heading for Poprad in the Slovakian Tatra mountains for tomorrow. We much prefer the country to the towns and hopefully it will be cooler in the higher mountains. Will post again when we find our next internet access point. In the meantime keep up with the comments and I'll reply asap!


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Misckolz Tapolca Baths

Yesterday we went off on our own, to some cave baths. The route took us up a wide agricultural valley, which I have photos of (note the lack of traffic) and then wound up through narrow forest road over the mountain to the town.

No photos of the mountain road as one tree looks much like another but it was beautiful to ride through. The baths are based on a thermal spring with outdoor baths, indoor medicinal hot baths and, most fun, a complex of flooded tunnels through the caves.

The caves were natural although they had tiled or concreted the floors and walls of the pools for the sake of our feet and knees. It was nice but there were too many kids there to make proper swimming a possibility.

The ride home was very hot at 34C!

We rang BMW on our return and found the bike was ready so had an early night ready for the ride back to Budapest today.


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After 3 days in web limbo we're back in communication! It's surprisingly frustrating to be unable to get on line but now we have returned to Budapest I can update our story. I'll do it spread over a couple of posts so easier to read and for me to upload.

From Eger we moved only about 40 mile to a rural village called Szilvasvarad where there is another biker's campsite & B&B, the Magyar Route 66. This was beautiful & kept in immaculate order by its owner, a dutch man, Leen (pronounced Lane). As well as the camping field there was a swimming pool, cave/bar and "kettle kitchen" as well as a separate house in which Ian and I were the only occupants.

The three campers there became good friends very quickly, Yuri (sorry if I have spelled that wrong) a Belgian, and a Dutch couple Jan & Jolande. We had a meal together in a nearby restaurant the first night, a train ride to a waterfall the next day

then a wonderful evening cooking together in the kettle kitchen. This was an outdoor structure with a witches cauldron hung over an open fire in a raised stone pit.

We took local advice and enjoyed ourselves immensely spending 3 hours cooking a proper Hungarian Goulash.

Of course it was hot & thirsty work so plenty of the local wine was required to help us complete the job! It was too hot to eat by the cauldron so had to sit outside the well stocked help yourself honesty bar!


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Friday, June 20, 2008

2 up to Eger


Here we are up in the Northern Hills of Hungary in the spa town of Eger. We've left our camping and other surplus stuff at the biker camp and have booked a room there for a weeks time. We set off two up on my bike yesterday morning, through the Hungarian countryside which is very fertile – wheat maize vines and assorted veggies were growing in abundance alongside the main road. when we turned off to the hills we found ourselves on a magnificent biking road – the 24. Very wide hairpins wound high up one side of the hill, down the other side then up another, all through a huge area of mixed deciduous woodland.

Once in Eger we found ourselves a good hotel with its own spa and swimming pool complex then set off to explore. We have been around the castle, site of a famous defeat of the turks in C16 by a local garrison, outnumbered 4 to1 and wandered the many traffic free streets before a meal in a pavement restaurant. Here's a few views of castle and town. Note the ubiquitous Mcdonalds

and the intriguing street sign – third from top. Haven't managed to work that one out yet!

Today we chilled! Strolled around the town again and climbed the 97 steps of the minaret. Spent most of the day swimming & lazing around the pools & park next to the hotel.

We're moving on tomorrow to a bikers B&B further up country. can't guarantee internet access so don't worry if there's no posts for a few days.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Problem update.

Have taken the bike to the dealer, with the aid of a Jubilee clip and a cable tie! They have to order the part, and it will take a week. Now plan B kicks into gear! We are leaving the camping gear here in Budapest, and setting off 2 up into deepest Hungary and Slovakia for a week or so, and will return to collect my bike when it's fixed. So a good excuse for a lunchtime beer, and a folklore evening in the restaurant next door tonight. LB

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Heavy rain overnight and at 7.00 am we were lying in the tent thinking we wouldn't be moving on today when there was an almighty thump from outside. LB's bike had fallen over. He'd left it on the centre stand with the side stand extended, on grass.It had obviously sunk in and the side stand eventually pushed it over. The screen was broken and the mounting for the front brake lever and brake fluid reservoir snapped clean off.

We've cable tied the brake back on & think it's rideable. We're now waiting for the rain to ease off for a trial run around the block & if it's ok will venture across town to the BMW dealer. Looks like we're going to be in Budapest for longer than planned as they're likely to have to order the parts. B*gger!


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Well I have a confession to make. The photos of the baths were off the internet - you probably guessed tht fro the aerial shot! When we got back to the campsite I did my usual chore of copying the days photos onto the computer. It weans we have a back up off all photos in case we lose the camera. Unfortunately I somehow managed to delete all the photos off the camera :( we've only lost todays photos but there were some good ones we wanted to post on the blog. We have found some file recovery programs which have identified the photos are still on the card but we can't retrieve them without paying. We'll do that at home on our main computer and in the meantime will use a spare xd card. So it could have been worse!

The other point to mention is that we might move on tomorrow, depending on the weather. If its raining in the morning we'll stay another day. If its dry we'll head up into the hills. If so we may not be on-line for a few days .


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Szechenyi Baths

Today we have again been exploring Budapest. In particular we visited one of the famous Spa baths in the city. We chose the Szechenyi Baths near the Millenium Square, mainly because it allowed mixed use of the facilities. It was a little daunting entering the grand building, paying, and finding the way around when there wasn't a sign in English to be seen anywhere. The attendants were very helpful and we finally found the outside pools after passing through a series of pools indoors, all at various temperatures. The outside pools were at 28c, and at 34c. The Indoor pools varied from a cold plunge, to one at 38c. The spa water emerges from the earth at 75c!! The photos don't really do it justice. We spent a very enjoyable 3 hours in the sun along with many residents of Budapest, before heading back, with thunder rolling in the distance.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Lake Balaton

Picked up some Scottoil at last from a little bike dealer on the other side of Budapet. He's the only Scottoil stockist in Hungary. So thanks to the internet for giving us his address and to the Zumo for getting us there. Afterwards took a drive around Lake Balaton. This is even bigger than we thought. It took us an hour and a half driving up one side, half way back we gave up and took the motorway! It was very enjoyable and we had a nice picnic on the lakeside


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Budapest tour

On Sunday we left the bikes at the campsite and took the Metro into the city centre. This was quite an adventure as we couldn't make head or tail of any of the language. We had problems getting out of the main station as we didn't know the word for "exit"!! Anyway after a bit of wandering around lost we went on a "hop on hop off" bus tour around the city. Hopped off for some scenic views at the citadel on Gelerts hill and again around the castle. It took us all day and was well worth it. It gave us a feel for the city and some ideas of where to visit. Here's a few views around the River Danube.

Back at the campsite in the evening we found we had company. Two Serb bikers turned up although they were at pains to explain that one was a Hungarian Serb and the other a pole. We got on well and after half an hour were invited to go back to stay with them in Serbia on Wednesday! We were tempted but its outside the EU and none of our insurance would have covered us. There's also a Danish couple here who speak very good English unlike the Serbs. we had a long chat in pidgin , English and bits of German over a few beers - great fun!


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Bikercamp Budapest

After our thorough soaking on Friday 13th Saturday was much nicer and we had a pleasant ride out of the Alps through progressively smaller hills in to Hungary. This again was quite hilly to start until we reached the plains around the enormous Lake Balaton. Arrived in Budapest about 6.00 to our planned stop here Bikercamp is basically Szousza, the owner's, back garden but with wonderful facilities. Theres the usual showers and toilets but also a cooker, tables and benches under cover, a washing machine and washing lines again under cover. We were disappointed to find we were the only occupants but the following night company turned up. I would highly recommend to anyone coming to Budapest. They also run a B&B so you don't have to camp.


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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Here we are safely at the biker camp in Budapest. Since leaving Zell am See 2 days ago we have ridden over 400 miles. We had intended doing it in 2 easy stages, but the heavens opened as we were leaving Zell, and after 100 miles we had had enough. cold and very very wet we pulled over and found the Lindenhof gasthof and Marion it's owner.

We were made to feel very welcome, and ham and eggs served in the frying pan, washed down with beer soon revived our spirits. Later on we had a wander around the village and found a Pizzeria for supper. An early start was in order in the morning, and as we wandered downstairs Marion was waiting for us.

The rain held off and we rode into Budapest in the late afternoon, tired but well satisfied.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lazy Day!

We had a day off the bikes today. Over the next two days we plan to ride to Budapest with an overnight stop somewhere near the Austrian Hungarian border. A day off seemed ideal preparation. This morning we took a boat trip around the lake.

The jetty was just outside our hotel so I could take a nice photo of both the hotel, ( the large building on the left )the local church and ski lift behind.

This afternoon we just had a walk around the vicinity.The Swedes were in town then but this evening it seemed to be populated by Russians. Various Nationalities are here in force. We're not sure if they have tickets for the soccer in nearby Salzburg & Innsbruck or whether they have just come to be near it. Either way every bar has a tv screen and is full of football supporters. We're really enjoying the atmosphere. The only problem is full hotels. We'll be near Graz tomorrow, where some games are being played- let's hope we can find a room for the night. Can't guarantee an internet connection so it may be a couple of days till we get back online. Meanwhile, everyone, please keep posting comments, we do enjoy them.


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Grossglockner Pass

Had a leisurely start and a good breakfast this morning then realised we could check the weather on the pass as it has its own website here this predicted a fine morning but thunderstorms starting at lunchtime so we got a move on and headed off on the bikes. The start of the pass is not far from here. Initially the road winds gently up through villages meadows and forest. It's a toll road so after paying we climbed more steeply via numerous hairpin bends until we were above the snowline. After 12km we stopped at the first pass & a cafe for a toilet break just as we were entering the mist. We still managed to get a few photos then continued downwards before the road rose again to the glacier in the col at the top.

It was wonderful riding though a little disconcerting when the roads were wet while going through a snow field. Fortunately we did not come across any ice.
We didn't stay long at the top as the weather was closing in. We retraced our steps, stopping for coffee and strudel on the way.

Back at Zell am See we set off in search of a bike shop. After all the trouble I had with my chain and after having a Scotoiler fitted I went and forgot to pack the Scotoil!! I now have a tube of chain lube and will have to be sure to lube it regularly. I want this chain to last!


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Tuesday, June 10, 2008



Since leaving S & B we have had two days riding wonderful biking roads. Before setting off we saw an abysal weather forecast of a huge rain cloud cloaking southern Germany, Austria & Switzerland. Fortunately it was wrong!The roads around Stuttgart are a hidden gem, rolling hills with lovely open bends through woods and fields. Later we reached the steeper hills of the Bavarian Alps where we stayed last night in an Alpine chalet guesthouse.

Today we rode along the German Austrian border before heading south into the more dramatic Austrian alps of the Tyrol.

We're now settled in a lakeside hotel at Zell am See.

We plan on staying a few days to ride the Grossglockner Pass (Google it – it has it's own website) and the lake. Have included assorted photos of the last two days riding.


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