Since Eastern Europe’s Communist Bloc crumbled a mere 20 years ago, Hungary and Slovakia have emerged as economic powerhouses, and as two of the most charming countries in the region. Score one for sovereignty … and for a landscape of bucolic hills that seem to roll endlessly into a promising future.
It’s little wonder, then, that a sense of ease has settled on the countryside. Of course, public thermal baths – fed by a vast network of underground springs – help to soothe the soul, too. To connect with its people, take to the waters yourself, or indulge in relaxing strolls through sleepy rural villages. But the most rewarding way to experience these rich cultures is to compare them side by side, which is exactly what a ride along their border on the Danube Bike Path allows. This trans-national jaunt is guaranteed to work up an appetite for chicken paprikash on Hungarian shores, halusky (a potato dumpling) on Slovak shores, and a taste of local palinka brandy to wash it down.
History here is palpable, as Roman remains dot the forested landscape and tiny villages echo ages past. In quaint galleries along cobbled streets, a bohemian spirit asserts itself both in the artwork and in the culture that inspired it; folk traditions run deep in so many facets of local culture. And the Danube runs deep in the hearts of Hungarians and Slovaks. Lucky for them they have the beauty of the Danube Bend to marvel at, where the river winds its way past the Transdanubian Mountains.
To explore Hungary & Slovakia: Click this link The Best of the Danube on a VBT Bicycling Vacation.