George Johnston: July 20th

I got all my dental work done in Bekescaba Friday morning. I got a cleaning and four fillings smoothing out chips on my front teeth for about $115. The morning cleared up in Saturday, so I biked about half way to Debrecen and took a train the rest of the way. I spent two nights there and stopped by the Nyaryi Egyetem language school office on Monday morning and spoke to a few of the staff there. I then biked on to Miskolc which was a pleasant and easy flat ride. I had a bit of trouble with lodging as the dorm I was planning to stay in had filled up, but I found a nice pension in the city center for about $30 per night for two nights so I could go to the Cave Bath(Barlang Furdo) on Tuesday. I had been there twenty years ago and got a couple of pictures carrying my small camera in a zip lock bag, but I have a waterproof Fugi now which worked better. The are cool and hot baths both inside and outside, the hot being in the high 90’s. The is a mini planetarium in the cave with stars projected overhead.

n Wednesday I biked through the last two Hungarian cities on the road to Ukraine, Sarospatak, which I had visited on a summer
school excursion, and Satoraljaujhely, which is a difficult name to remember and pronounce, and into Vinicky, Slovakia and got a room at the Zlata Putna Pension. It was a popular wine region. The motel had a large group of other bicyclists there on a tour, but I only saw their bikes in the garage and saw them ride away as I got up.

The next day I had a flat easy ride of 73 km to Uzhhorod, Ukraine where I had booked a studio apartment on Booking.com. Unfortunately I found at the border they didn’t allow bicycles to cross there. The Slovak guard didn’t speak any English and couldn’t tell me where there was a crossing for bicycles. A local. l man told me of one about 25 km south, but it didn’t show up on my map. The was one about 40 km north. I used my new smartphone to check on line and found a Lonely Planet article on the problem and said the southern on was open only to EU residents and Ukrainians. I had run into a similar problem once between Serbia and Hungary, so I knew that wouldn’t work. The one to the north was Identified as the only bike crossing between Slovakia and Ukraine open to others. The ride turned into a steady upgrade over a mountain over 400 meters from 100 meters. It slowed me down but didn’t cause any trouble after crossing a couple of 1000 meter mountains in Montenegro and Albania. I got through the border formalities with no questions or problems. Years ago when I went to Ukraine from Romania I had to show that I had accommodation reserved and my bike and baggage were check like airport screening. After crossing the mountain I was now following a river downhill and it would have been easy, the road was badly potholed so it was slow except for a few recently repaved areas. I call my host as soon as I safely crossed the border and let him know I was going to be very late. It was almost midnight when I got to the apartment. I had forgotten I changed time zones. I called the host and he came and let me in. The apartment is modern and attractive, though it doesn’t show from the outside of the building. If fixed a cup of soup and ate some snacks. The detour put my distance at 163.3 km(101.5 miles) my first 100 mile day of the trip. Most amazing I didn’t have any cramps or unusual pain.

The apartment had a washing machine and almost all of my clothes were dirty so I washed and relaxed on Friday. I have really had any time to see the sights of this city, so I may stay Sunday night, too if the room is available. After that I’ll take a train to Lviv. It would be two long days of biking and the weather is looking iffy for the next couple of days. Lviv is said to be quite and attractive city. Uzhhorod isn’t.

After that I’ll head south to Chernovtsi, which I visited before, to Iasi, Romania and to Moldova, which I haven’t visited before, but they speak Romanian.

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