This was one of my earliest mornings in a while. There was no breakfast at the hotel, so I just suited-up and got
going. Since I had already scouted the road out of town, I was on my way in no time. After following the Danube for more than a week, today I
took a turn north following a smaller tributary river upstream. The road for the first 30km or more of the morning was a quiet country road, which
is the smallest kind of road appearing on my map. Sure enough, there was barely any traffic, but the road was perfectly smooth and quite
Break at Sahy
My morning stop was at the border town of Sahy. I sat outside at a little snack place and watched the
traffic pour into town. There seem to be at least a few Hungarian people who come into Sahy for bargain shopping, but otherwise I couldn't
make much sense of the scene. The town was lively enough, though, and seemed quite bright on this hot summer day. In order to avoid the
coming heat, I headed out of town hoping to complete another 50km before taking my main lunch stop.
After passing through a number of non-descript villages, I made it to the large industrial town of Velky Krtis. Velky is the first
town that really gave me a feel for the communist impact on Slovakia. The center of the city lies on top of a hill which took a little effort to climb.
Even after passing by the center, I didn't realize it at first and circled around in the mess of concrete buildings and vague signage. I was mainly
looking for a post office and a place to eat. I never did find the former, but I ran into two other long-haul bikers who were looking for a restaurant
too. These chaps from Bratislava raced me all around town until they found the one and only really restaurant serving food out in a garden.
Not to be accused of following them, I headed on up the road a ways to a grocer.
I looked my bike up
out front and went in to stock up on the old standard- cookies, bread, tuna, and lemon drink.
I came out to find that the guys painting the front of this strip-mall had started to splatter paint all over my front bag and bike frame. I moved my
caravan over to the curb and sat down to eat my loot. Not long after, a man came up to inquire about the large air-pump I was hauling. Yes, it is
an air pump. Air is important to me. Such was the intro to an invite for drinks at the local pub.
pub was the corner store on the same strip-mall. Chris, who spoke enough English to make it interesting, introduced me to everyone in the
place, which consisted of some five or six tables and a plain bar. I ordered a beer to wash down my makeshift lunch and enlisted their help in
opening the tuna can I had just bought as my can opener was not cooperating. Soon we had a full table, including my painter buddies, joining
in the fun. Chris was the main translator for me and he seemd to properly convey the general details of my travels to the guys. In return he
explained to me that the painters were the only ones here with steady work. Peter, next to me, is a full-time drinker, and he offered me a shot as
a token of his friendship. Chris, himself works in construction materials and projects and seemed to be consulting on some kind of building
technique, when asked. I couldn't quite get the sense of exactly what he does, except that it was Absolute and that it was a System. Those
seemed to be his favorite words. He used them to describe my solo travel across his country too- as an absolute system. They were a rather
lively bunch, considering the economic hardship at such an early age, but I suspect I could find a similar group of happily-unemployeds at my
home to in the US.
Having passed the heat of the day, I got back on my bike and headed on to the next
large town. Chris had described the terrain to me as three series of ups and downs that wouldn't take me much time at all. Evidently he had
never tried it on a bike. These were some of the longest, steadiest uphills I had seen on the whole trip. Still, it was a nice shift from the river
riding I had been doing, and I still cruised along into the town of xxx. As I wondered around looking for a post office, I ran into a man who spoke
English perfectly. He pointed me in the right direction and I was able to get my mail off and make a couple phone calls. As my progress
seemed good to this point, I called my Polish roommates in the States and told them I should make it to their parents' house in Poland by
Friday at 5pm. I have a goal.
Some more cruising and fine evening riding and I rolled into my expected
overnight town. I followed the signs to the city center where I caught another sign pointing to a clean business hotel just off the square. The
place looked a little ritzy, but I was ready to splurge after a long day in the saddle. The woman at the front desk spoke English pretty well, which
was unusual compared to other experiences so far. However, her clear English was definitely telling me that they had no rooms in town and
that there was NO other hotel in town. I joked with her a bit about the impossibility of so few rooms in such a large town, but she assured me that
I was truly SOL. I started to realize that it was after 7pm, I was in the middle of nowhere and I didn't really have any allies. I asked her to check
the phone book for the area, seeing how I don't speak Slovak so well, and darkness was quickly approaching. After a little effort, she found me
a bed some 25km up the road in some village. I was to go to Hnusta and look for some Dom called Robotnicky. I thanked her and ran back to
As I road out of town and up this small river-valley, I realized just how hopeless my situation
was. It was getting cold outside, now that the sun was down to its last rays, and I didn't have a tent, blanket, or anything. Despite the steady
uphill, I kept a constant speed which should put me into Hnusta right at 9pm. It was a good test of will, but I made it into