Bye bye to Western Europe, hello to the East!

Dries Van Ransbeeck
Mar 3, 2019 · 5 min read

Last night we have arrived in Bratislava! Having crossed the border between Austria and Slovakia, we’ve entered the door to the Eastern part of Europe. It also means that we have reached the first country where we literally don’t understand anything from the national language. Here’s the story about our last 2 weeks from Munich to Bratislava through Germany, Austria and Slovakia.

Movie time

Before we go more into detail about our journey, let’s start with a short video about our impressions and our love for Bäckereien in Germany:

Cycling through Germany — made by the one and only Manon Brulard

Pedaling along rivers — easy and enjoyable

Over the last 2 weeks, we have cycled from Munich to Bratislava, which was fairly easy since it was simply following rivers for most of the time. The first part of our ride was along the Vils river to Vilshofen an der Donau. After that, we started following the Danube river across Austria.

Our itinerary from Munich to Bratislava

In summer time, there tend to be quite a lot of bicycle travelers on this trail. Fortunately, at this time of the year we had all the nice roads and views, in among others, the magnificent Wachau wine valley for ourselves.

Mark on the Danube cycle path

The wide Danube river will form the common thread in our journey in the coming weeks. We decided to cycle along the river southwards via Hungary instead of via the Austrian state Burgenland. Manon wants to go and do an interview in Budapest and I want to go and play chess in one of the thermal baths there! We expect to have the Danube next to us until Bulgaria.

Redefining time and distances

As we have been traveling by bicycle for about one month, it’s fascinating how our perception on time and distances changed over time. At the beginning of our journey, we have had some very long days on the bike. We got physically very exhausted because of the numbers of hours on the bike and the cold weather, but it was also mentally very demanding to jump on our bikes day after day. Now, as we have got used to our new way of living, we got a better understanding of what it takes to get somewhere and, therefore, it’s easier in terms in mindset than it was at the beginning. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel exhausted anymore after a long day on the bike. ;-)

Learning one new skill at a time: Manon doing a power nap on her saddle

Furthermore, we have learned to deal with distances and their relationship with the used mode of transport. On the one hand of the spectrum, there are (way too) many people moving all the time around by car. If you ask them how far it is or how long it takes to get somewhere, they will give you the expected travel time by car on a big highway. That’s not at all what we as cyclists are looking for. We prefer to be on a traffic-free roads in nature — which allows to really enjoy our rides. On the other hand of the spectrum, there are people who travel by foot. In the last Austrian village before the border crossing with Slovakia, we came across a French couple walking from Bratislava to Vienna. When they told us that it took them a whole day to walk just across the border, it made us realize that we as cyclists can do a pretty long distance in a relatively short amount of time.

Voilà, we have officially cycled more than 1.000 kilometers — up to many more km!

Long life to the open data and tools guiding us every day

Before we may forget it, happy OpenDataDay! This Saturday 2 March, it was the annual celebration of open data all over the world with nearly 300 events. As we use OpenStreetMap data on a daily basis, it’s fair to say that our bike tour would never have made as enjoyable without open data. We use the golden combination of BRouter for planning our routes and the paid version of Android app OsmAnd+ (with offline maps) for navigation.

What’s next?

This week, we have our first family members who will come and cycle along! Manon’s sister Margot and her boyfriend Arnaud will join us for a ride from Bratislava to Budapest. Afterwards, we will continue our journey southwards to Serbia and Bulgaria. May the tailwind be with us!

To end with: some pictures

Cycling one month together and still cycling in each other’s wheel and still happy.
Passau on a grey, rainy day
A foggy Monday morning in Austria
In Vienna we have put our bicycles aside for a few days and explored the city’s fascinating history, cultural scene and extraordinary coffee houses.
We also had the chance to meet and have dinner with fantastic people as Esther and Serge.
We have come across some many different vending machines: this one in Vienna allows you to buy literature
Half of the joy comes from riding the bike, the other half of looking at maps

Enjoy your bike rides — see you in 2 weeks!

Road to the Rising Sun

We’re Manon and Dries, cycling all the way from Brussels to…

Dries Van Ransbeeck

Written by

Crazy about civic innovation, open data, liveable cities & long-distance bike touring. Coordinator @OpenKnowledgeBE.

Road to the Rising Sun

We’re Manon and Dries, cycling all the way from Brussels to Tokyo. This is our story!

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