Random Thoughts from Central Europe

Gib&Frances Earlier in June, Frances and I took a long-time planned trip to Central Europe with Backroads as our outfitter (backroads.com). Backroads is the world’s oldest active vacation company. So if you want to see any corner of this world, it is likely they can provide you that opportunity on foot or on bike…or on both.

We choose Central Europe as we both have been to most of Western Europe and this trip offered a combo of a Danube River cruise and biking from port to port…city to city. We also had heard so much about Prague, Vienna and Budapest all of which were cities central to this trip. So for eight days we biked 40+ miles daily from our River Boat to the next town. We saw the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Here are some of my random takeaways from the bike saddle:

• A River Barge is a floating mausoleum! • Vienna is as beautiful as Paris, but without Parisians. • Southern Bavaria and rural Austria rival as beautiful a landscape as you’ll ever see. • Everyone smokes. • Everyone drinks…..early…..8 AM early. • European’s view a car as something utilitarian, while Americans see them as a way of life. • Everyone loves Americans. • However, you feel like such a “dumb American” because they all can speak at least three languages and I have trouble with one. • German is a guttural language with no possibility of romance. • Fried pig’s knuckles are indeed NOT a delicacy as the Germans would lead you to believe. • Don’t go to the region for the food. • ….or the wine. • I can only eat so much schnitzel…brats…sauerkraut...and potato salad. • Do go for the history, beauty, the people, and the lifestyle. • Children walk to school that is only a block away, and they are safe. • It’s safe to walk the streets anywhere at night. • Cities, towns, and hamlets are all biker-friendly with their own bike paths. • …..consequently no one is fat. • The Communists sucked the soul, treasures, religion, and identity from Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, and Hungary. • Their Cathedrals rival any you’ve ever seen. • They’ve all lived under rule dating back to the Ottomans or the Romans or the Habsburgs…or the Nazi’s or the Communists…or….all of the above. • Habsburg history is fascinating. • Their premier hotels shame our premier hotels with the little touches. • Regardless of the career, people from this region all are proud of theirs. • They are crazy about their Futbol. • The 68 lochs on the Danube are another testament to German engineering. • Their coffee is high octane. • I can get just as lost in Central Europe as I can in Western Guilford. • This was my second Backroads vacation and I lost weight on both while certainly not trying. • If you’re going to do an active vacation….use Backroads. They’ve got it down to a science.

Thanks to my great business partner, John, and to all of our staff for affording me the ability to see a part of the world from a biking perspective. Thanks to our loyal clients for all their support and encouragement day to day.