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RUMANIA, HUNGARY, AUSTRIA: bukarest-vienna

  
Romania
20. June 2004

RUMANIA, HUNGARY, AUSTRIA: bukarest-vienna

19645 km, vienna (A)

boing 777 from lauda air. melbourne. jakarta. vienna. bukarest. just 21 hours. it is done. the big and quick hop back to europe is fullfilled. lets cycle home.

during the scheduled stopover in vienna bine and i are managing checking out one of our bags and checking in another bagagge for bukarest. in less than one hour. there is almost no time for my parents, who i take in my arms after nearly 1 and half years. just a few minutes later we had to say good bye again. but this time, it will take not that much time to see us again. being at home, but nevertheless being far, far away.

at international airport otopeni of bukarest we put the - luckily not damaged - bike together. we make us ready to start the final leg of the tourBine. bine and i hit romanian roads for the second time on this tour. this time dressed with cap and gloves, not in t-shirt and shorts like in summer 2002. after 7 months in australia we have to get used to east-european way of life again. even in the capital of romania the roads are bumpy. rubbish everwhere. traffic hell. a lot of dogs, which obviously dont want to miss the opportunity to 'warm up' a little bit while chasing 2 freezing cyclists. the rear view mirror is on the left side again, after one year vice versa. on the left side crazy drivers. on the right side snarling dogs. no vegetation and the typical 'colourless' environment of late winter. romania really seems to be the wild west of eastern europe.

bine and i are mainly trying to get 'acclimatised' during the few days we are staying in bukarest. europe is totally different compared to australia. a long history, culture everywhere. in my opinion it seems to be also much more 'liberal'. everyone could buy and drink alcohol or smoke everwhere. no signs of restrictions. the fact that the cheapest double room in bukarest costs more than 20 euro helps us to get used to european standards again. nevertheless, food and beverage, supermarkets, internet is unbelievable cheap.

when leaving bukarest for heading west back home, i realize that romania is still totally different compared to most of other european countries. even in the outskirts more and more carts carried by horses or donkeys are hitting the bad roads of bukarest. chaotic traffic. sometimes horrible road conditions. a lot of water and dirt. unbelievable. very modern, big MAN-trucks are overtaking donkeycarts. new mercedes next to fucked up dacias. after a few hours cycling through this nightmare for cyclists, we are happy to leave the main road. due to temperature we drink some cups of hot tea right out of our new thermos flask! puuh, we finally escaped bukarest.

during the next days we manage to find a pleasant and nice rhythm of travelling. bine and i are just cycling the very small roads. and therefore are able to experience the quite and more original romania than the fast and loud life of the expanding turbo capitalism. on the main routes you can find non-stop gas stations, non-stop bars, non-stop internetcafes, non stop supermarkets everywhere. often we find a restaurant for lunch which is almost very good and almost very cheap (about 2 euros for 2 persons). in the evening it sometimes takes some time to find a proper place to pitch our tent. still no leaves on bushes and trees, people everywhere makes it difficult. but we always find a place. and the people passing by (you dont believe how many people are walking even in the remotest and dirtiest places) are very friendly. no problem at all. our fucked up mattresses make big problems. in australia it was alright, but in cold europe we are freezing in the night because of no isolation. the self-inflating, very expensive therm-a-rest and artiach mattresses made problems the whole tour. rubbish! even with my new sleeping bag i bought in melbourne i was often very cold in the morning.

we are entering the carpathian mountains. and famous transsylvania. at last no villages. snow beside the road. on a sunny day we take the 'telecabina' of sinaia up the bucegi mountains. great panorama! on the first warm weekend of this year we cycling a small road down to rasnov (rosenburg). along the river, for about 10 kilometers, about 200 or 300 romanians do have picnic. BBQ, woodfire, music, canvas chairs. unique! the castle of rasnov we visit while great weather. and see the mighty fagaras mountains in the backdrop. i want to go there! therefore i try to find a good route, which is leading two times through the mountains in order to head back north again. but after 2 days great cycling along the mountains, i have to realize: all roads are still closed. no way. therefore we are heading to sibiu, which is a very nice town. we try the 'corba de burta', which we have found on nearly every menu in romania. afterwards we know better. the soup consist of chitlings. it smells and unfortunately tastes quite ugly. during the further route up north the weather changes and we do have very cold temperatures and a lot of rain.

in the evening we dont find a single empty guesthouse in ludus. so we take a train to tardu mures. hot shower and dry clothes. we are alive again.

after taking a look at our bank accounts we have to realize, that bine is completly bankrupt. moreover, the condition of my old grandmother is getting worse. two reasons for the decision to cycle 'express' to vienna. i am crying. the tour is now defintely reaching an end.

but nevertheless. the last 7 days of our big trip is very nice. we enjoy cycling. find wonderful places for our tent. and live on just 4 euros per day and person. we should have travelled this way far more often than we did.

one day we meet stephan, a very nice and friendly man who owns a bicycle-shop in silvanei. he invites us to stay in his cabana (cottage) up in the wineyards overnight. surrounded by other winegrowers, great panorama, sunny weather! after 30 minutes bine and i are owning 2 litres of wine, one kilo bacon and one bottle of palinka (spirit). the people are very friendly!

oradea is the last city before entering hungary. a very nice town. and we unexpectedly enjoy a shower. hungary is very different to romania. very modern and 'western'. our route on small roads is determined by the flood water which blocks the entries for the small ferries across the danube. therefore we have to use the bridge at dunafoeldvar. a town which i - for no reason - could remember from one of my journeys to turkey with my family, when i was a kid. at that time we had our first lunch on this journey in dunafoeldvar. later on bine and i are passing kecskemet. a beautiful town, where my cousin married a few years ago. uli cycling in hungary on the tracks of his own past.

one of the more update one of these tracks bine and i are hitting in austria. on neusiedler see all things had begun. it was the place where, at the beginning of august 2002, we started. heading out to unknown places. now we are back here again. but nobody knows.

i surprise my brother christoph and markus\&marianne in calling them and inviting them to the campground in breitenbrunn at neusiedlersee. despite of the fact it was late in the evening, they make the 70 km way out of vienna. we have a beautiful reunion.

the next day we have quite cold and windy weather. no nice welcome in my hometown. the last kilometers are the same as on the 3rd of august in 2002. but now they are cycled vice versa. it looks all same like 20 months ago. at the end of this day we make a big surpise to my parents. what a joy!

to be honest - being back home is more pain- than joyful. the journey is - after 617 days and 20.000 kilometres of cycling - definetely over. at the moment they are not important. the big differences between bine and myself. which made it often so difficult for us. which forced me to make some painful decisions. at the moment i primarily see OUR journey. which nobody is able to take us away.

the daily challenges. all over. every day cycling with bine. all over. searching for places for our small tent. all over. cooking with our petrolstove. all over. all the intensive experiences i made. all over. the feeling of freedom. all over. all the things which made this journey unique for me. all over.



in the evening of the 11th of april 2004 i sensible put my bicycle down at my flat in simmering\/vienna. it is the very last time of this journey. i take bine in my arms. very tight.



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