Saturday, January 5, 2008

Our Summer Vacation - Neusiedl am See to Sopron

Map of the bike trail around the lake

We started out the day with a wonderfully substantial breakfast - this is a much larger hotel, with many bikes for rent, a clothesline in the back for all the cyclists to hang out their laundry, and a spa.

We rode out from the hotel on bicycle route B10, which will take us into Hungary. We rode along the lake, but it was often hard to see from ground level, as there were wide bands of reeds between the path and the lake. the path went to pebbles over a hard packed surface for a few km, then went back to asphalt. We passed through a resort with a swimming beach, then pack into the countryside. The tops of sailboats could be seen over the reeds.

Cyclists on the bike trail

Us by a vineyard

We stopped at an observation tower and climbed to the top to see the lake and lots of waterfowl.

View of the lake, sailboats and windmills from the lookout tower

Lots of groups and families out cycling here - this is a popular route. Cyclists wear what we'd consider cycling clothes here, even small children.

Crops on the left were vineyards, corn, vineyards, wheat, vineyards, sunflowers, vineyards, veggies...

In Illmitz we needed to decide if we were going to take the long (9km) or short (3km) route into Apetlon. We found Tom in a park at the decision point; and waited for about 15 minutes in the shade for everyone else to show up. It was HOT. We voted for long.

Little Pink Bear takes a break in the park

I had an EXCELLENT hammer on the bike path - flat, flying past vineyards (occasional car, very strange). I suspect the tailwind and faster tires on the Bleriot helped out some. I stopped a couple of times to take pictures of storks.

Ducks in the lake

The group found me at the main road, then Rich, Kris, Fitz and I took off again for Pamhagen. Rich and I traded pulls, then just entering Pamhagen, his front bag took a dive. Pause to reassemble. (signs for Pannonia - Latin for Hungary - pointing off to the left).

We rode through town to find Zuzana, who directed us to the restaurant. It was Sunday and stores were closed, so they couldn't get groceries for our excellent picnic lunch today. Parked our bikes in the Radlerrast (bike rack) and went on back.

Lynne parking her bike

Choice of goulash, noodle soup (hausgemacht nockerln!) or liver dumpling soup. We got tureens and tried all three. We were in a nice shaded patio with flowers. At this point, Tom discovered that his wallet had fallen out, and he and Zuzana went off to the police to report it and cancel the credit cards.

Pamhagen - the back garden where we ate lunch

The boys did not finish their soup...the waitress: "You don't like it? You didn't finish!" I have relatives like that... After a long lunch (ice tea comes in bottles here), we started riding out to the Hungarian border, minus Tom. Many cyclists were heading both ways over the border - circling the lake is a popular ride. After some persuasion the border guard produced a stamp (silly Americans!), and Rich couldn't locate his passport (!). After a conference, he and Bohumil headed back to see if it fell out. Bohumil gave us the repair kit - not necessary, except for the spare tubes, but he insisted. I had the same stuff in my bag.

Hungarian Border Crossing

The bike path in Hungary was less well maintained. I did get my camera out and successfully took pictures while riding.

Fitz on the bike path just after crossing into Hungary

There were big rainstorms threatening, but didn't get us. The countryside became hillier. Lots of little villages with wheat and sunflower fields. We were riding by the Ferto-Hansag National Park. The towns had upgraded bike paths. Little houses with similar architecture, and thatch roofs on the bus shelters. More black tile roofs (as opposed to red tile) and a little more run-down.

More wheatfields, and a lot more rolling countryside. We finished the ride in Balf (Hungarian for wolf), now a suburb of Sopron. We were the first to arrive. It was HOT, and there was a little pub right across the street from the church.

Balf through the hayfields

House with rosebushes

Kris: they have beer
Me: and ice cream

Zuzana and Marian arrived with the good news that all the missing documents had been located (let's just say pilot error and move on), and Rich, Tom and Bohumil were riding in.

The woman at the pub spoke a little German, as did Zuzana. They would take Euro (we had not acquired forints).

Kris: I have Euros

Post-ride refreshment in Balf

So 2 beers (Soproni) and I was jonesing for a coke float. 1 Coke, 1 vanilla ice cream scoop in a glass and a spoon. Hit the spot. The guys all showed up, and Zuzana told us about Sopron.

We then loaded up and headed into town.

Sopron dates back to the 4th century - the Roman Scarbantia. It was on the amber trade route. Dinner was on our own. We explored the area, and foun dthe old town wall, Roman road and various ruins, all nicely displayed. We also found the ATM and got forint (about 180HUF=1USD), then walked back and had dinner at the hotel.


Sopron - Roman ruins


Liszt Ferenc (Franz Liszt) gave his first performance at age of 9, just down the street. The Hotel Wollner is the coolest hotel ever - 300 year old building, flowers everywhere, patio restaurant and a nice back garden with the old city walls as part of it.

Hotel Wollner courtyard

Many more pictures here.

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