On this section we will sample the delights of four of Europe’s most cosmopolitan urban centers; Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Bucharest. Each is a capital city, ancient and modern, rich with imperial architecture, opera houses and museums, as well as chic shopping and delightful eateries. Inspirational classical music and delicious Viennese cream cakes await you in Vienna. Then, we are off to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, and Budapest, once dubbed the “Pearl of the Danube.” Anyone who has not visited Eastern Europe recently will be enchanted by Budapest’s latest Parisian fashions, an impressive array of international cuisine and majestic Austro-Hungarian architecture. Hungary’s centuries-old spas will relax you after your journey. Visit one of the large public spas and you will observe a slice of local life in this city unlike any other.
Leaving Budapest we will head southeast, traversing the plains of southern Hungary. As we cross into Romania and Transylvania, the flat days soon end. Not only is Transylvania rich in history and intrigue, its landscapes rival the Alps and Pyrenees for sheer challenge and awe-inspiring views. Cycling eastward on country roads, we arrive at our rest day in Alba Iulia – the capital during Michael the Brave’s short reign as Prince of Transylvania.
On from Alba Iulia, the Carpathians creep ever closer on our right, until we turn inward and start our excruciating ascent up the Transfagaras range and into the territory ruled by Vlad Dracul. Over a distance of approx. 60 km we will climb to an altitude of 2034m negotiating more than 50 switchbacks on the north side of the pass. After reaching the top, we will take time out to explore the little known ruins of Poienari Castle – one of Vlad’s fortresses. From there, we zoom downhill through tunnels and past manmade lakes high in the mountains until we reach Curtea de Arges – one of the oldest cities in Romania on the banks of the Arges River. The next stop is Targoviste, the city from which Vlad ran his empire, and the site of the trial and execution of Nicolae Ceausescu. After another day of riding into the metropolis of Bucharest, the current capital of Romania, our time cycling with Vlad is complete.
Countries: Austria, Hungary, and Romania
Far Out Factor
August 14, 2013
14 Days Riding
2 Days Resting
Austria, Hungary, and Romania