I'm now at the upscale - definitely 3 star hotel in Banovce. I could - but it would have made too long a day - have ridden the 35 km to Trencin, which include a good bit of climbing, but I'm glad I didn't have to. All day today, I rode into the wind and that, combined with a bit of climbing, made Banovce a good stopping point. I think I did about 130 km today, a bit short of what I would like to have done, but better than doing the 165 km that would have gotten me to the next place where I could find a room.
I left Komarno at 9 AM, feeling rested after my rain/rest day yesterday. I decided I would ride to Trencin via Nitra because I had ridden the Vah in the other direction from near Trencin on my first ride across Slovakai.
Nitra is a neat, and very old, city, and the valley north of Nitra looked like it would be very nice riding. I knew that the ride from Komarno to Nitra would be flat, and I expected a head wind. I wasn't disappointed in any of these expectations ;-).
A church in the 'middle of the road' in Hurbanov
this sweems to be a common church loaction in the Slovak republic.
This particular church is in the middle of the road in both directions
My most pleasant surprise early part of my ride was the Zlaty Bazant plant in the first town north of Komarno. I know it is silly, but I really like that beer. Yesterday I had both Zlaty - with lunch - and Pilsner Urquell - after having a Donner for supper. now, waiting for my supper here, I have Topvar, another Slovakian beer. I think the Zlaty is the best of the three, and the Urquell, although better than the Topvar, is not as good.
Riding the Great Hungarian Plain is similar to riding the US plains or the Canadian prairie. Even the crops are similar - I saw lots of wheat today, as well as corn, sunflowers, and some crops I didn't recognize - the wind, from the north and then coming around a bit to the east, was never really strong and was often blocked somewhat by trees along the road. It probably reduced my average speed by a mph or so, but it also kept me comfortable. We seem to be having a bit of a heat wave in eastern Europe this summer, but, other than sleeping and sometimes working in my room, it hasn't caused me any problems.
As I neared Nitra, the mountain appeared ahead. Plains are OK, and these were very pretty plains, but mountains, especially since I knew I'd be following a river valley ;-), are more beautiful.
I rode into Nitra about 12:30, looking for lunch. Nitra is a beautiful city located at the base of a small mountain. It is very old - from Roman times - and is a university town. After riding past the universities, I left 64, the highway I was following and rode into the pedestrian mall part of town to find a place for lunch. Since it was Sunday, a lot of restaurants were closed, and there weren't a lot of people on the mall. there was some kind of fair just starting up at the end on the mall and more people were heading in that direction as I ate lunch at a Pizza place. The food was good, the beer was excellent and the people watching was fun.
When I headed out of town , I ended up on the wrong road - that happened several times today! - and had to go several km out and back to get to the right road. Today, I could always tell when I was going in the wrong direction by the lack of a head wind ;-)!
North of Nitra, the road was not as good, but the countryside was very nice. The wind was also stronger, perhaps because it was later in the day and/or because it was blowing down a mountain valley. I had hoped to reach Trencin today, but somewhere after Topol'cany, I decided I better look for a place to stop at, or before Banovce. Then the problem then became finding a place to stop.
After Topol'cany - where I missed a turn again - I took a shortcut using a backroad - 592 - on my way to Banovce. This meant some more climbing but also beter views of the, very nice, countryside. It also meant riding through small towns where everything is closed on Sunday.
When I got to Banovce, I saw a sign for a pension, and followed it only to discover that it was closed and that a very large dog inside its courtyard seem to want to kill me ;-(. This was not good. There was run down looking hotel nearby, but it also seemed to be empty. I rode on looking for someone to ask about hotels.
When I saw a sign for internet access at the Creme Cafe, I figured there would be someone there who spoke some English, so I stopped and went inside.
I found it to be a pub, whose owner, after insisting that we bring my bike inside, served me coffee and water and apple slices while we talked about language. Then the fellow from the Slovak national cycle team came in with some friends and we visited about bicycling.
I checked on the internet access setup, and told my new friend I would go to the hotel - only a few blocks away - and come back later to access the net. After working on this web page a bit - selecting, resizing and rotating images and starting on the text, I had supper at my hotel and then walked back to the pub.
At the pub, a lively group of people were sitting talking and I was invited to join, but I said I needed to use the computer. Since I didn't have a new web page to upload, I just checked my mail and sent my wife a 'I'm in a hotel, not a ditch' message. Then I showed te owner some of my web pages and he called a friend who has traveled a lot to come visit. I went with the flow and, after several hours of wine and good visiting, got back to my hotel well after my normal bedtime. I didn't get my, now normal, 9 or 10 hours of sleep, and I miss it, but last night was very special.