Saturday, January 5, 2008

Our Summer Vacation - Malacky to Devin

Every breakfast should have this view

After a breakfast on the patio with Rich and Kris, we all loaded up and drove to Malacky, which is in Slovakia (passports stamped all around at the border crossing).

Synagogue in Malacky

Our ride today was to be all in Slovakia. We started out riding 15km on the road, rather like our Washington County roads, in terms of surface and traffic, but with deciduous trees, wheatfields, sunflowers, cooler-looking villages (heck, villages!) and flat. There was a long line of massive construction equipment blocking the road - we inched up and around it. It was a wonderfully hot and sunny day.

church in Jakubov

We arrived in Zahorska Ves, to be intercepted by Zuzana and Marian, making sure we did not miss the turn onto the bike path.

Zahorska Ves, start of the bike path along the Morava River

We got onto the bike path - the plan from here was to follow the Morava River until it joined the Danube River. Except we didn't quite. There was an unmarked choice - ride up on the dike, or through some wheatfields. We picked the dike. It was crushed gravel; the 34mm tires on my Bleriot had no problems.

The unpaved part of the day - 13 km?

We saw storks flying. The path then went through forest, but it was clear. Then we popped out into wheatfields, with a church and village visible in the distance.

Fitz heading into Vysoka Pri Morave

Then we were in Vysoka Pri Morave, and a bit puzzled, so waited by the river, wondering where to go next. Bohumil rode up and asked if we were last. We knew we weren't, so we waited.

Fitz and Bohumil in Vysoka pri Morave

He hadn't seen anyone else. After awhile, Kris, Rich and Pearce showed up; we'd all gone by way of the dike, which was not the right way. Tom and the boys were ahead of us somewhere. Another long direction-getting conversation with a passerby, which pointed us back onto the bike path.

The map distances were off, but we did find the left turn into the forest, with lots of educational signage throughout about the the Morava River floodplain, which we would be riding on for the rest of the day.

Morava Floodplain

Popped out into endless meadows. It was beautiful - meadows for miles. Austria was on the other side of the Morava River.

Morava Floodplain

We stopped to explore a Cold War border bunker and a section of barbed wire fence (Iron Curtain remnant). This part of the trail is the Iron Curtain Greenway.

Iron Curtain bunker

Iron curtain barbed wire remnant

More riding through the meadows (a cherry and plum tree stop) and then the path got lumpy going around Devin Nova Ves. We finally arrived at the confluence of the Morava and Danube rivers. There was a memorial to those killed trying to get out during Iron Curtain times.

Then a left turn put us by the ruins of Devin Castle. Another excellent picnic lunch, then we put away the bikes and climbed up to the castle and had a great time exploring. There were some archeological exhibitions (this spot has been inhabited since forever), and a breathtaking view of the confluence of the two rivers.

Devin Castle

Devin castle

Fitz at Devin Castle

We then walked down to see a medieval combat exhibition (WWF meets the SCA).

Medieval Combat Demonstation

We then had an hour-long drive through Bratislava and into Austria (passport stamps all around). This border had a major police presence, but our crossing was uneventful.

Dinner was a buffet at the hotel, where I got to pull out what was left of my small knowledge of German for maximum effect :-) Ja, bitte!

And finally, Real Vegetables at dinner!

Many, many more pictures here. It is not possible to take too many pictures of a castle and the Danube River.

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