Our introduction to Slovakia was wet, the pavements of Bratislava glossy with rain and devoid of the usual capital city tour guides as we sat shivering outside a cafe in the old town, surfing some free internet access. The cold and wet got right into my bones as we pedalled around pot-holed and broken streets, along one every other lamp post leaning at extreme angles having been modified by the motorists that had forced us on to the pavements. Quite a contrast to the picturesque old town.The deluge continued all night and all through the following day. We found warmth, food and an internet connection in a shopping mall next to the campsite and there we sat for over four hours.
Bouyed by the novety of waking in sunshine, we found our way back to the Danube, dodging one final swipe from a bendy bus and headed off into the sun. Eighty miles later, we were again sodden, cold and rattling the gates of a campsite, which had been locked for the night. Floods meant no wild camping opportunities and we were in a town centre, again in the dark and pouring rain.
We’d cycled a good part of the way on top of a flood defence bank with woodland and fields on both sides standing in feet of water; whole fields of sunflowers and maize rotting in temporary lakes. The fast flowing, swollen river sent whole trees and braches past us at regular intervals as all the rain we’d passed on this trip joined forces on its journey to the sea. Our discomfort nothing compared to the impact on people living here.
We were let into the concrete fenced, muddy, wet site by an Austrian woman and managed to get pitched and cook food and turn in before midnight. Waking to yet more rain, we decided to take our chances on the other side of the river – Hungary.