Sunday, 28 October 2012

in the hills

It's still raining in the morning.  It continues unbroken for 24 hours.  We find a pension above the old town of Banska Stiavnica and set up the Chinese Laundry - everything dirty gets washed, and everything wet gets hung up to dry.  Within an hour of arriving our room looks like a disaster zone.  We then wander down to the old town for a look around.  It's Saturday, it's just after midday.  The bike shop is already closed.  We walk the streets but it's a foul day and we soon surrender.  Hmmm - so the glorious sunny Autumn is really over, in case we ever doubted it.  
Sunday afternoon

Sunday is dry so we try again.  There are a few more people around but it still feels a bit empty.  We resolve to take a train to Bratislava - we suddenly don't have the stomach for the ride across the plain to the capital. 

Monday morning
Monday dawns brightly.  Too brightly.  The reason for that white light creeping into our room is the snow.  It's snowing.  In October.  Good grief (or words to that effect).  The ride downhill for 25 kms is kind of interesting.  I have repaired my bike chain, but it's hardly put under any strain.  When we get to the train station we both look like snowmen, and have to brush the snow off everything, even out of my eyebrows.   With a few words we manage to purchase tickets for both ourselves and bicycles.  Then we join a crowd of men who have turned up for the station cafe's set lunch.  After a lousy start the day is looking up.

Ah, but such false optimism.  The train gets delayed nearly an hour.  When it comes we struggle to unload the bicycles in order to lift them into the baggage wagon.  We then have to shift our bags and get aboard before the train pulls out.  Once in our seats the train conductor turns up to check our tickets.  And then informs us in English (thankfully) that at the next station we will have to alight and take a bus to the subsequent station where we can then board another train to Bratislava.  Okay? Okay.  But what about the bikes? The bikes? Yes, the bikes.....The train stops short of the platform and everyone has to climb across the tracks to get to the buses.  We are of course last and there's almost a fight when the bus drivers all shake their heads at our bikes. Eventually one allows us to squeeze them into the hold.   Transfer to another station.  Repeat of loading bikes, getting to train, unloading bikes, lifting bikes into waggon, manhandling our panniers into a carriage. Good grief (or words to that effect).

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