MTB riding: the unbeaten labyrinth of the Danube river

Dear readers,

It is time to cover a brand-new topic which is the off-road cycling. Being a passionate cyclist I have grown lots of experiences, especially with off-road cycling! Since I live in Bratislava, perhaps not everybody living in the central Europe knows that along the (long) Danube river we can end up finding multiple paths/diversions of the main Danube, that is the case of the area which is enclosed by Hungary and Slovakia.

Assuming you live in Bratislava and you want to start riding from that point, you have a solely choice to reach the labyrinth of ‘green islands’, ride through the green C path via Petržalka-Rusovce-Čunovo. For your convenience just take a look at the map below for a clear overview 🙂

Overview map of cycling route to Danube islands
Ending route from Dunaremete pier (landmark 4)

For the itinerary details you can either refer to the following link: https://en.mapy.cz/s/3sPxV or just follow out the summarized instructions in English below:

(the explanation from mapy.cz is only provided in Czech language so far)

  1. Ride across the Stary Most (Old bridge)
  2. Take left by following the Green C signs (Eurovelo 6) to Čunovo
  3. Once in Čunovo, you are at the border with Hungary: keep riding straight ahead (do not follow the green track to Rajka any more)
  4. Keep cycling on that raised gravel track for apx. 15km to Dunakiliti
  5. At one point, you will notice on the left side a linking path which gets down on the river forest: there you go!
  6. Once down, you will see a cross trail: take right to Dunaremete pier, or take left if you wish to explore more the Danube labyrinth.
  7. Finally, you have two choices: either you take right from Dunaremete or you ride farther straight for apx. 5km and then you will turn on the right as soon as you see and adjacent trail (you will get to cross two bridges in order to get out of the funny labyrinth of islands).

If the instructions are not meaningful enough no worries, I have attached here few key images for you 🙂

https://goo.gl/maps/hZST6jCiGjPvs1Aj6

As shown above, when you are in Dunakiliti take as a reference Vadviz Kemping to lively enter the Dunasziget (Danube isles).

If until that point you had the feeling to be bored, here the big fun starts! As first, you will meet lots of loitering and running deers. It is just incredible how many of them you can meet along the trail; in addition to that, be aware that there can also be few tiny snakes, I have seen one by riding through and luckily by the time I passed it was already aside, that is a bigger concern for whoever ventures in the trails by hiking.

Here below there are some available images from my recent trip in there.

After apx. 15km of riding in the Danube forest from the camp site, you will approach Dunaremete which is a chilling spot with a small pier, it daily runs few small ferries to carry few cars, bikers and passengers to Gabčíkovo back to the Slovakian territory, this can also be a customizing option for your own trips if you are lucky enough to catch it at the right time!

Thanks to my friend Attila, we made the tour very juicy by arriving at Ásványráró village and from there we decided to ride farther to the connecting bridge back to Medvedov in Slovakia, since we felt we had not better choice and ride back all the way round it would have been boring!

Just few quick facts about the bicycles: we had ridden with a Giant MTB Talon 1 27.5″ myself whereas my friend was provided with Trek cross-trail bike, the second one is enough to deal with such a trail as long as it is dry, perhaps when it is muddy then MTB tires are more effective! I do not recommend to enjoy such a forest trail with a race bike unless you want to damage it on a purpose!

Having said that, try your best to plan out a Danube cycling trip based on the mentioned hints of this article and then you will be able to share you experience! Last bu not the least, you can find out many other spots with Danube diversions on the Austrian territory, this is just a riveting one!

If you have any concern or just a remark do not hesitate to leave a comment or just contact me by using the dedicated form from the main menu!

Giuseppe

Záhorie: the unbeaten north-west area of SLOVAKIA

Calvary in the town of Skalica

Dear explorers,

a new spring season is just started and soon I had a chance to set off by car with my girlfriend to the north-west area of Slovakia known as Záhorie, the name itself means “by-the-mountains” because it is a extended wooded flat area enclosed by the Little Carpathians (Malé Karpaty) on the east and the Morava river on the west, in addition to that, Záhorie itself is segmented by the two regions Bratislavský kraj (capital region) and Trnavský kraj (region of Trnava).

We focused on the upper-east part which is in the region of Trnava and it boundaries with Czech Republic, we had chance to visit three key towns:

  1. Skalica
  2. Holíč
  3. Šaštín-Stráže
Map of Záhorie

Living in the capital city Bratislava and travelling to our first destination Skalica was simply impressive to observe how big is the potential of Slovakia with plenty of woods and forests all around, although nowadays most of Slovakia attractions have become very attractive and therefore very popular and overcrowded, in here it seems there is no such hordes of visitors around 🙂 We could even afford to park the car for free at the edge of the main square (imagine yourselves to do such a thing in any other bigger town).

Skalica was worth the trip for three reasons:

  1. the suggestive Calvary at the top of a very small hill
  2. Rotunda SV Juraja (Round terrace of Saint George)
  3. the city walls which surround the centre of the town

The third one recalls the age of the Great Moravian Empire conflicting with the Austrian-Hungarian empire and since Skalica was founded in the middle-age therefore it was a big concern to be protected by the external attacks.

After we spent two hours by enjoying a chilly walk around as well as photo-shooting to catch up all the most relevant spots (soon a new selected photo set will be uploaded on my Flickr page), we had a lunch break and then we moved to our second destination Holíč.

Holíč is famous for its baroque-style chateau which was originally built during the middle age as a water castle and later on 1736 it was re-built during the aforesaid baroque century by František Lotrinský, the interior of such a great chateau was unfortunately closed however according to the details it counts of almost hundred of rooms. (Look at the pictures below)

Such a cultural visit from the exterior took us one hour, so then since the day light was generously going on, we further drove to our third destination
Šaštín-Stráže.

This is one of the youngest village in Slovakia because was settled as town municipality on year 2001. According to the history background it was the result of merging two separate villages: Šaštín and Stráže nad Myjavou.

It is renowned for its imposing basilica in which comes in for several pilgrimages once per year on Pentecost, however (fortunately) that was not our case and we enjoyed all the surrounding areas with a peaceful environment 🙂 Moreover, we have found out that there is even a railway station as well as quite some refurbished houses with huge gardens which are a great inspiring idea of a relaxing living town.

To sum it up, if you wish to spend an inspiring chilling Saturday away from the capital city, this tour could be a great choice to discover some new great and alternative aspects of the country-side in Slovakia. Moreover, I feel like to recommend it for a cycling tour, we have noticed that cycle tracks are pretty much everywhere, then especially around Skalica.

Giuseppe

Banská Štiavnica: UNESCO world heritage in the hearth of Slovakia.

Dear explorers,

after such a long time spent finally I am here to talk about something new and different!

One week me and my girlfriend, despite being very warm, made the decision of driving from Bratislava to the central region of Slovakia denominated Banskobystrický kraj  for a cultural summer weekend, we stayed over Friday and Saturday nights since our research came to tell us that it was 100% worthy to do so!

For such a purpose we chose to stay at a holiday apartment  with garden on a small hill, the panorama view was simply nice because we could see by distance the scenery of the hilly landscape as shown below:

We drew two separated plans, one for Saturday and one for Sunday because having the considered the type of attractions and the locations they involved us a different mind-set, therefore on Saturday we went for visiting the outdoor attractions as followed:

  1. Kalvaria chapel
  2. Banská Štiavnica downtown
  3. Banská Štiavnica in miniature exposition
  4. Banská Štiavnica castle with city walls

The first attraction is a recently restored baroque-style chapel which before ten years ago was abandoned,  it is situated on the top of a small hill and the restoration works took place from 2008 and were completed on 2016, it was supported by some private funds issued by the VUB Bank institution, it looks like a small architectural jewel which must really be visited to realize how nicely they made it, moreover, if you are with a girlfriend here you have a great chance to enjoy a romantic morning hiking 🙂 you just need max. 90 minutes, therefore you can’t miss it out!

Some pictures below could be impressive to figure out how the spot it is:

The second one is the historical town of Banská Štiavnica which nowadays has become very popular and crowded, you can even find two Italian fashion boutiques!

Having visited it earlier on 2008 I can compare the difference and I can say that at that time was a peaceful town, however long time is spent since then and everything, like everywhere in Europe, is to be properly arranged for the ‘visitors’. If you like to have  some small shopping then the market will not disappoint you.

Here below, few pictures are shown:

The third one is purely an indoor exposition of Banská Štiavnica and the nearby villages in miniature, it is something quite recent, it is worthy to be visited for 1.50€ of entrance fee, here below you there are two pictures:

The fourth one is the city castle with high walls, this castle even not that impressive has an outdoor courtyard and some sub-levels indoor rooms arranged for punishing some war prisoners, perhaps it might look scary at your eyes, however that was how it worked in our ancient world. Overall, it is worthy to visit if you are in Banská Štiavnica for the 1st time and it takes maximum one hour for visiting it.

Finally, the only Sunday plan was to visit a manor house situated in Svätý Antonin Slovak is commonly defined as Kaštieľ  that’s to say a huge noble palace which was built under the Austro-Hungaric empire and numerous rich family members lived in there over the past centuries. My personal feeling was to visit a Schönbrunn Palace in miniature,  and I am not much in for visiting such palaces in which the luxuriousness is emphasized, however it is a part of the European history and we can not ignore it. Just I am not going to mention details on it but instead I will show you some pictures of it:

In conclusion, the summer trip itself had a good achievement as a combination of cultural enrichment with some soft hiking activity, it was useful to re-visit what the history was and what fabulous left over the past centuries, therefore if over the summer you are a bit bored of dealing always with just swimming or just hiking through the nature you may find a great compromise with such a trip, just go for it!

If any advice do not hesitate to contact me or just leave a comment!

Giuseppe