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16.09.2019 Zagreb. We arrived in Zagreb two days ago and we've been having a blast here. It started off with a night at Goran's place in the southern part of the city. The next morning he and his charming girlfriend Andrea from Ljubljana took us on a stroll through the city centre and showed us a few tourist hotspots and, more importantly, their favorite and lesser known places like the market, the city's oldest pub (where we had a glass of gemist aka spritzer aka Weinschorle) and underground walkways from WW II. Goran was the first one to make us aware of the bombings the Croatian capital suffered from as recently as 25 years ago, during the Homeland War that was launched when Croatians decided to leave communist Yugoslavia. We learned more about these events during a thematic guided tour and still find it hard to grasp that, between 1991 and 1995, when we were little kids and – except for the absence of online media – our German reality was not immensely different from that of today's kids, our Croatian peers had to hide in air-raid shelters and lost family members in a bloody war happening at their doorstep. Today Zagreb's streets, parks, bars and restaurants buzz with locals and tourists alike, as if to celebrate this newly-found peace. Yesterday evening we met Addy's sister, mother and a friend for dinner. They had spent a holiday at the seaside and were on their way back to Germany. Addy's mum Vesna is Croatian and often visits friends and family here, and so will we in the next few days. Today we are leaving Zagreb, heading towards the mountains south of Karlovac. We have about two more weeks to spend here, so our Croatian adventure will continue. #scoutbound #croatia #hrvatska #zagreb

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13.09.2019 Viszlat Hungary.  The final stretch of our stay in Hungary offered us flat and comfortable bike paths and roads. We followed them along Lake Balaton to Heviz, a small town with a natural source of thermal water. There is a lake where, all year round, guests can swim in warm water which is supposed to have strong healing powers, as well as a shomewhat hidden warm river where swimmers can probably get the same effects for free and enjoy a more private and magical atmosphere. The next day we cycled on to Letenye, where we spent our last Forints on pizza and a night at a guesthouse. Yesterday morning, just a few kilometres south of Letenye, we finally said viszlat (goodbye) to the country of Hungary and crossed the border to Croatia. This was the first time that we actually had to show our identity cards to two border officials and wait for a barrier to be opened before we could pass. Later we realized that this was because although Croatia has been a member of the European Union since 2013, it is not part of the Schengen area. Our first destination in Croatia was the town of Krizevci, where we had the chance to meet Croatian scouts. It was Maja who welcomed us and together with her sister, her best friend and some other scouts introduced us to the town and their scouting experience. Thank you once again to our adorable hosts. Today we are moving on over green hills and through tiny villages and planning to arrive in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, in the evening. #scoutbound #croatia #hrvatska #zagreb #europeanunion #schengen #krizevci #hungary #balaton #bázakerettye #heviz #warmshowers #europe #tour #balkan #scouts #dpsg #cycling #bike #velo #camping #biketouring #cyclinglife #cyclinglover #touringlife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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10.09.2019 The little things. During our trip, it is often the little things that make us happy. The feeling of pedalling up a steep hill and finally reaching the peak, smiling at each other in Addy's rear-view mirror, having a good meal and some beer after a long day on the road, realising that the food we ordered with improvised sign language and lots of guesswork is actually exceptionally good, discovering that the campground comes with a sauna, seeing the sun dry our moist camping gear, the man who filled us our water bottles in his garden because the public fountain was 'kaputt', and Alexander, who spontaneously described his plans for an electronic music festival on his grounds in great detail as we passed by, or walking uphill through vineyards to have breakfast in the sunrise. Sometimes, little things turn into great, magical moments, like the night we arrived in Szekesfehervar and were welcomed by Maria and Eszter, two wonderful sisters. They are scouts like us and we had contacted their local group shortly before. The two girls were ready to spend some time with us and show us their town, and they turned out to be brilliant guides and conversationalists. We learned many things about the town's rich history, and the Hungarian language, which we're not giving up on!  The sisters also recommended a visit to Veszprem, another pretty little spot near Balaton lake, with a remarkable old town and castle on a rock right in the middle of it. Thanks again for everything, Maria and Eszter. We're cycling on along the shores of the lake and will reach the thermal bath of Heviz later this day. #scoutbound #hungary #balaton #badacsony #heviz #szekesfehervar #veszprem #langos #warmshowers #europe #tour #balkan #scouts #dpsg #cycling #bike #velo #camping #biketouring #cyclinglife #cyclinglover #touringlife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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07.09.2019 Hungarian, Buda and Pest. In Czech Republic and Slovakia, we were able to figure out the meaning of some words and pick up a few expressions (our favourite one being 'Ahoj!' for 'Hello!'), but neither these tiny bits of vocab nor the foreign languages that we speak are of much help when it comes to understanding Hungarian. This language is not related to any other European language – there might be a link to Finnish, but experts disagree on this question – and so there are not many transparent words and it is hard for us to read road signs, menus or websites. It must be a difficult language to learn, but it is probably also hard for Hungarians to study foreign languages. Luckily, many young people here speak English well, and so somebody could tell us that the reason for Hungary's linguistic island position is the fact that the first Hungarians once arrived as nomads from Asia and thus imported a totally new language. The past few days we spent our time in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. It's a really beautiful and interesting city that bears traces of Slavic, Roman, Turkish and Austrian influence. However, after visiting Vienna, Bratislava and now Budapest within a short time we are a little bit tired of big cities and are eager to cycle down to Balaton and along the lake. #scoutbound #budapest #buda #pest #hungary #turkish #slavic #vienna #bratislava #communism #donau #danube #austria #bohemia #warmshowers #europe #tour #balkan #scouts #dpsg #cycling #bike #velo #camping #biketouring #cyclinglife #cyclinglover #touringlife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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04.09.2019 Meeting other travellers. We did not see a lot of other touring cyclists on our way from Germany to Prague and Vienna, but this changed radically once we started pedalling down the Danube. The comfortable and pretty cycling paths along the river attract many people of all nationalities and ages, and so now we often find ourselves engaged in lively conversations about cycling and camping experiences along the Danube and places beyond. In Komarno we got to know another German, Iris, who is cycling Europe with her dog Zuri and blogging about it on earth.thebeauty.com. When Zuri is tired of running alongside the bicycle, she can travel in her comfy bike trailer. In the same place, another lady from Germany, an elderly camper, let us in on the joys and sorrows of her age and gave us, much to Addy's delight, a bag full of smoked sausages from her son's production. And since our stay in Prague, we have been receiving photos and updates from Christin, another solo cyclist from Germany, who is spending most of her sabbatical on a bike trip. She told us that 'nobody tells you what your body is capable of and how far you are actually able to cycle, until you get up and just do it.' Last night we reached Hungary and took a ferry across the Danube. This was when we met Robert, a Romanian with Hungarian roots, who is doing a longer trip with his road bike. We camped together, shared a meal, and he taught us a few Hungarian words. Warm thoughts and save travels to all our fellow cyclists out there. We are looking forward to reaching Budapest tonight. #scoutbound #slovakia #bratislava #esztergom #hungary #communism #donau #danube #czechrepublic #czech #austria #bohemia #warmshowers #europe #tour #balkan #scouts #dpsg #cycling #bike #velo #camping #biketouring #cyclinglife #cyclinglover #touringlife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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02.09.2019 Ahoj Slovakia. Leaving Vienna in the southeast and following the Danube downriver, it took us only a couple of hours to reach Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Once again, we were happy to not physically see or feel an Austro-Slovakian border, but to just be able to freely cycle from one country into the next. We did not even have to worry about a different currency, as Slovakia is part of the Euro zone. Of course the language changed, but we have been discovering many parallels to the Czech language, which is not surprising at all, given that these countries only split up into two separate states in 1992. Yesterday we set out to explore the city and enjoyed its relaxed atmosphere, which owes to the fact that it is much smaller and less touristy than Prague and Vienna. However, more and more foreigners seem to discover this hidden gem, be it for its historical city centre, numerous traces of communist architecture or modern and innovative vibes. It was interesting to learn about both the bright and the dark sides of communism (e.g. equality, free education and healthcare, little unemployment and homelessness vs. limited personal freedoms, manipulation, confiscation of private property) and about the clever (and semi-successful) ways of some Czechoslovaks who tried to imitate Western products like Nutella and Coca-Cola and make them also accessible to people in their country.  This morning we have left Bratislava and are now cycling on to Komarno, a little town in southern Slovakia which has a Hungarian twin, Komarom, just across the Danube. #scoutbound #vienna #slovakia #bratislava #communism #donau #danube #czechrepublic #czech #austria #bohemia #warmshowers #europe #tour #balkan #scouts #dpsg #cycling #bike #velo #camping #biketouring #cyclinglife #cyclinglover #touringlife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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27.08.2019 Iron Curtain. Peace in Europe feels like one of the most natural things today. For the past few days, however, we have been cycling along the former border between Czech Republic and Austria. Three rows of bunkers along the cycling route, which were in use until 1989, and a monument of the Iron Curtain made us feel how divided this region used to be in the past. We are now living in the longest period without war in central Europe and we can not imagine what was going on here during earlier centuries. Peace in Europe should not be taken for granted, and we should do everything to maintain it. On our way we pitched up our tent in Viktor, Anthea and their daughter Eva's garden. In the evening they served us a nice meal with vegetables from their garden, their neighbour joined us, we had some wine together and an animated discussion. Thanks a lot for the lovely time shared. Today we entered Austria and now we are staying in one of the two homes of the scouts in Laa an der Thaya. Laa has more or less the size of Schrozberg but the local scout group has many more active members and a tradition of more than 90 years of scouting. Thanks to the scouts of Laa for receiving us. We are looking forward to reach Vienna tomorrow. #scoutbound #czechrepublic #czech #bunker #ironcurtain #austria #laa #bohemia #peace #war #warmshowers #europe #tour #balkan #scouts #dpsg #cycling #bike #velo #camping #biketouring #cyclinglife #cyclinglover #touringlife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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26.08.2019 Czech scouts. On our way south through Bohemia we had the opportunity to stay with two Czech scout groups. In Kosova Hora we were helped by several locals to find Tereza, who is a leader in the local scout group. They have their rooms in the train station, which is simple but very cozy. Besides the train station there is a garden which they can also use for group activities. The group of Kosova Hora has about 60 members and has existed for about 100 years and is thus older than the national scouting association we belong to in Germany (DPSG, founded in 1929). Yesterday we then reached Jindrichuv Hradec, where a troop of girl guides around Eliska was planning the activities for the upcoming months at their multi-level scout house. They welcomed us and showed us their facilities – every troop has its own room and there is another spacious room with a fireplace. This group, which counts 200 members today, has also been around for a century. We were very impressed by the long traditions of the groups we encountered, given that ours was only founded in 1998. In Schrozberg we have about 100 members and meet in two rooms and a garden belonging to our local church. To us, Czech scouting activities seem to be very similar to ours, except for an inspiring system of merit badges (e.g. in woodcraft, first aid, cooking, media), which we do not have in our association. However, we share a similar mentality, and immediately find a common ground and things to share when we meet. Thank you to all the scouts who welcomed us as friends and gave us shelter for a night. Our next destination is Austria. #scoutbound #czechrepublic #czech #warmshowers #europe #tour #balkan #scouts #dpsg #cycling #bike #velo #camping #biketouring #cyclinglife #cyclinglover #touringlife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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