Most Inspirational Moment
Its not a place or a moment, Central Europe is too beautiful and complex for that, it was the learnings. It was cycling with little concern right beside the remanets of the Iron Curtain. Waking up in a country that was recently freed, and going to sleep in a country that has been relatively unrestricted for many years. Nothing is more inspirational than stopping for morning tea at the memorial to the hundreds who lost their lives trying to cross a boarder, no matter why, which direction or what your beliefs are that is sobering… To spend 11 days, as a 50 something year old, in Central Europe, on a bike, is a privilege of our time, and that inspired me!
Thoughts on Group Leader
We struck gold! Jan is a compassionate, capable, incredibly knowledgeable, gentleman! Teamed with Lubos, our big gentle bear of a support driver - no need nor necessity was left unaddressed! Jan and Lubos are not only fantastic: bus drivers, gear haulers, tour guides, bike mechanics, historians, foodies, medics…. They are funny, warm and perceptive! Even though Lubos had limited English, he took us on side tours, when we chose to take the bus, conveyed instructions, lead us to points of interest, tried his hand at English and never stopped smiling! Jan assessed our group and altered the tour to meet our ability and quirks. We did off trail routes, had the option to take the bus when the elevation and heat made it less than fun, chose a picnic instead of a restaurant, found place we could swim or forage for fruit, stopped so we could work out what the crop growing actually was, or to try a Sugar Beet – because that was our group… He took us to the touristy places, but he also took us to the local hidden treasures, and when the rain hit… he gave his own raincoat to one of us to wear….
Advice for Potential Travellers
If you want to truly enjoy this tour… Get out and do the kms: ride the hills, ride off road! This is 480kms plus of variable terrain, heat, hills (at times), cobbles, gravel and even mud! The bikes are ‘Gravel Bikes’ – not suspended, not wide tyred, mountain bikes. The wheels are skinny, you have disk brakes, and these are opposite (right back / left front) for anyone from the southern hemisphere… But they are perfectly adequate if!... You have done some training off road. It’s not mountainous, but its definitely not flat, and after the uphills there are some glorious down hills – train for this! We rode downhill gravel sections that required a modicum of ability. We carried our, very lightweight, bikes up stairs – so prepare for this, it not hard at all, but carry your bike so the technique is not foreign. We navigated city traffic and tractors in villages. We had a heatwave and a downpour. And we had fun! Lots and lots of fun! Consider a Multicurrency Debit card - you ride through 4 Countries, and the currency can change twice on one day! Most places took a card, but a few notes in the local currency helped – your guide will advise, take note of what they say.
This is only our second Exodus tour – so I will not rate it as best, but… seriously good! Travelling here is not a given at this time – do it whilst you can! Although we started as a group of five from New Zealand - we ended up as a group of 9 from all over the place… And that is what Exodus embodies – Global Friendship Spend extra time in Prague and then in Budapest – there is so much to see! Keep your heart open, your eyes peeled and always laugh – then you will have the same awesome experience our group of 5 had!