Thursday, 18 July 2013

Castle to Castle (London to Budapest)


Blog 3

We're in Bonn at the moment (16th) so here's our post for the last few days.

Monday 15th July
Brussels-Aachen:  Time cycling - 7 hours.  Distance - 132km

After having spent two days with little sleep, our hostel beds were perfect and woke up feeling recharged and excited for the day. We’d learnt something from our previous mistakes, so before we left Brussels we booked a campsite in Aachen. Giving us both somewhere to aim for and a definite place to sleep.

We left at 9.30am and enjoyed a walk through the picturesque centre. Since we’d had so much trouble navigating through cities, our new method was to use the sun as our guide. Keeping the sun at a fixed point.

Talking about navigation, we have settled on using the Google maps function on our IPhones. In particular we love the walking function, which has allowed us to take back roads and cycle paths that we would never have found without it! We have nicknamed him Chris the walking man.

We cycled through beautiful Belgian countryside, stopping to pick cherries by the road side. Other cyclists joined us for short periods of the way, always interested in what we were doing and our progress.

It is becoming a common trend for people to come to our rescue in times of trouble and we were grateful to a girl for directing us to the hostel and a cyclist showing us the way a great deal.

In our drive for sustainability we took a solar charger with us... its crap. Our method now is to stop for a coffee and charge when we need it.

Today we cycled through 3 countries, starting in Belgium, then without realising it, through Holland, and into Germany.

We arrived into Aachen late that night and had to pitch our tents in the dark. We did have the foresight to pick up a whole roast chicken and a beer and devoured the lot before crawling into our tents.

Tuesday 16th
Aachen to Bonn: Time cycling - a "rest" day. Distance - 96km

Having worked hard for 3 days we decided to set a more relaxed pace today. Both of us felt a little achy this morning, so getting going was slow. Also Zoltans incredible navigation might have added a few extra km to the day.....

 *A little aside about how we have progressed day by day. A few days ago I think we were both coming to question whether we could really cycle like this every day. However day by day we seem to be adapting, getting fitter as we go and today we really hit our stride. We can do this!

Sunburn - with wings!
So, it was another really hot day’s cycling but the good news is, for the first time we got into the campsite early. And what a beautiful camp site it was! Right on the banks of the Rhine.

Even Zoltan agreed that the scenery was "alright", which in Zoltans language actually means incredible.

After pitching our tents and having a wash, we went for our first hot meal in 4 days. A kebab each and a pizza to share, great!

We had a good day today and tomorrow (17th) we’re heading for Frankfurt.

Good night all

Zoltan and Jack

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Castle to Castle (London to Budapest)

Blog 2


Fri 12th

So this day found us in a mad rush to get everything ready. It also found Zoltan at the Hungarian embassy waiting for his emergency passport. A story still too raw to go into suffice to say Zoltan and I are still friends. So having packed and had a couple of good luck drinks at the Brownswood, we were set.

Sat 13th

Time cycling - 8 hours. Distance - 160km
After three hours sleep apiece we left The Castle at 5am. Cycling for the first time with fully loaded panniers, something that took a little getting used to. I think I can say for both of us that we were both excited but also apprehensive, the full scale of what we had undertaken running through our minds.

Following our planned route out of London we made steady progress and were soon nearing Dover. It did however prove to be a hard day for both of us, both hot and long. We did however make it to our ferry in time and lying on the sunny deck and sleeping for a couple hours was reward enough.

Getting off the ferry at Dunkirk, a first oversight began to become apparent. We had not really paid much attention to navigation, relying on some very vague printed Google maps. So getting into the centre of Dunkirk proved tricky. And therefore the only two campsites that we made it to. We ended the first night wearing all our clothes sleeping rough on the beach, too tired to bother with tents. Our first and second lessons all in one day...

1. Have some form of navigation!
2. Have a rough idea of where you will sleep, or better a solid booking.


Sunday 14th

Time cycling - 8 hours. Distance - 150km
We awoke to a beautiful sunrise having had three very cold hours sleep. So 6 hours in two days and only 150km to cycle today!

(Zoltan tells me I'm putting a negative spin on this trip, please don't get me wrong we are LOVING it.)

We dragged ourselves off the beach, packed up and I realised I had lost my wallet. Shit.
Incredibly cycling back to the previous days unfriendly campsite we got my wallet back. No sweat.

So our first full on day of cycling. We thought this was going to be an easy day. It was hard and hot and we got lost quite a lot. Yet sitting in our hostel washed, fed and talced up we both agree that we have enjoyed it and achieved something.

About today we wanted to mention the glittery sun cream given to me by my friends from the café and The incredibly bad French road signs which led us round in circles. We have seen some beautiful countryside and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Signing off now as we have an early start. We will write when we can.

Peace out Zoltan and Jack

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Castle to Castle (London to Budapest)


Welcome to our blog!

Zoltan & I (Jack) both work in the Castle Café.
We both have an interest in cycling and have both worked with bikes – myself as a courier and Zoltan delivering lunches to offices in central London.

Zoltan who is from Hungary had for a while been considering cycling home and when this was mentioned to me over a game of pool, the idea for a trip was born.

The trip for us started out as more of a fitness challenge and as a means of getting home. But it has evolved into something more.

Adapting to the Castle’s drive for sustainability and in an effort to provide an environmentally friendly resource, our adventure has taken on a green colour. We want to now examine whether cycling as a means of long distance travel is really feasible in modern Europe and, if so, how easily and comfortably can it be done. We want to demonstrate the physical, mental, cultural and environmental benefits of green & sustainable travel over other travel forms. 

The plan is to depart from the Castle w/c 15th July (date tbc). From there we will cycle to Budapest, following the course of the Danube River, ending at Budacastle. We will pass through Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, and into Hungary.

A total of 1200 miles.

Along the way we will stay in hostels and camp. We will endeavour to post regular updates and photos on our blog and Facebook as we make our way towards Hungary. We hope to make you as excited about our adventure as we are! Please stay tuned to the blog to see details of our planning and preparation for the trip and a continuing feed as we progress towards Budapest.
Thanks, Jack & Zoltan