Today was the first day we had to do some maintenance on our bicycles after about 1,400km, and it was not a broken spoke! Luckily the problem was solved without too much pain.
We had an early start and a relatively fast 43km ride to reach Bratislava along route E575, arriving before 11am. The road was very flat but had lots of cracks running across the tarmac (maybe worse for fast cars than bicycles) and there was a bit of traffic.
Our first views of the city were of soviet style apartment blocks. We struggled a bit to find the the river bike paths to enter the city. Kris’s chain began slipping, and he thought it was probably the chain but worried it could be the sprocket, so we needed to find a bike repair shop as a first priority. We negotiated around road repairs and traffic in the center to find the tourist information office and they gave us a map with locations of a couple of bike shops. Luckily the first shop confirmed that his chain had stretched after measuring it, and could replace it right away.
After that we rode around a bit looking for accommodation. Bratislava is not an easy city to navigate around with on bike. There are lots of curbs and crossings to negotiate, plus some streets have trams running down them (lethal if you get your bike wheel stuck in the tram track). They have however begun to make an effort with some bike lanes at least and there are clearly some cycling enthusiasts around. We met one of them (who runs a website called warm showers where individuals host touring cyclists). He recommended a local pub frequented by cyclists and we went and had a beer there (it was very hot). Eventually we went back to the tourist office to get a recommendation for overnight accommodation and were advised of a “very cheap” 4 star hotel. It was the most expensive place we have been in so far. It was good however, the best thing about it being the breakfast (which included apple strudel).
We rode around in the evening, which was more pleasant once it began to cool down. The main tourist site is the castle, there are some great views of the city and the river from up there. If you look in one direction you see the beautiful old town, in another direction the soviet style apartment blocks, then industrial chimneys and again soviet style apartment blocks. There is also a fancy bridge which has a restaurant built over the top of it.
We had some street food in the old city, but felt it was a bit of a tourist rip off place. There are some quirky statues there that all the tourists stop to photograph.
We ended up doing a bit of a pub crawl – including a craft beer pub near the bridge restaurant that had an interesting dark IPA. Then we went to a tourist cafe next to the Danube and then back to the cyclists pub – which has good beer, was buzzing with locals and cyclists and has a view of the castle, even though it is near a motorway.