Travellers' Tales: Rivers & canals to Romania
After years of cycling holidays in Europe with my brothers, I decided that at the age of 72 I was old enough to attempt a solo trip. My plan was to set off from Dunkirk and follow the waterways of Europe to Romania.
I spent months plotting a route, booking low-cost accommodation and arranging nights with Warmshowers hosts. From France I followed canals through Belgium into the Netherlands, then the Rivers Rhine and Main through Germany as far as Bamberg. From there, I rode beside the Main-Danube Canal.
The River Danube was then my guide through the rest of Germany, Austria and Slovakia. My apprehension about entering Slovakia wasn’t helped by being chased by two dogs on the outskirts of Bratislava. But my hosts for the next two nights were much friendlier. I reached the border town of Štúrovo the same day I left my second host. There I had a great view of Esztergom and its basilica and castle, perched above the river.
From Esztergom, the Danube Bend took me southwards to the town of Vác, a few miles north of Budapest. After two nights here, I met my brothers near Budapest Airport. Together we followed stretches of the River Tisza through Hungary and the River Mures through Romania, before reaching the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the village of Cisnãdioara, the location of the children’s home for which my six-week sponsored 1,900-mile ride raised over £8,000.