Now that we were in Eastern Europe, the negative changes were quite noticeable: road quality is starting to deteriorate, there was more fly-tipping and, depressingly, road-kill. Also, every other motorist was attached to their mobile phone which was a bit concerning! However I can't criticise their courtesy towards us cyclists...their attitude towards other motorists wasn't quite as patient! On the plus side, Slovakia is far less densely populated so we were able to enjoy large open expanses of countryside..perfect for wild camping! We have also discovered Tesco (!) a supermarket I tend to avoid in the UK, but in Slovakia we were able to buy the cheapest food of the trip so far (in fact, we ended up going back into the store three times to stock up and spend our last few Euros!)
The improved weather has motivated us to be a little more regimented in our daily approach to camping: we enjoy the daytime cycling at whatever pace we feel capable of, but aim to stop somewhere for our evening meal around 6pm, after which we start looking for suitable places to pitch the tent for the night. When we are happy with a spot, we chill out: read, listen to music, write. The tent goes up as the daylight fades, we get in and sleep! Alarm goes off at 6am, we get dressed, pack the tent away, load up the bikes and head off. We stop for breakfast within the first hour of cycling but have found it quite a positive thing to get a few kilometres under our belts before eating. Whilst the weather was cold, we found it very hard to drag ourselves out of the sleeping bags and were unable to function without a bowl of warm porridge and mug of tea...it was commonly mid morning before we'd start cycling!
I've just realised that my last post was from Germany, so I'll quickly summarise the Austrian bit! Passau to Vienna is perfect cycling. The scenery is amazing, the cycle paths are well sign posted and in great condition. The weather continued to be depressingly cold, but it failed to dampen our enjoyment (cycling this section in summer must be awesome, if a little busy?!). We were amazed by the Wachau region which is intensively cultivated for producing wine. I don't think we've seen so many vines...even in France!
Love and hugs. X