Day 66 - Levice to Diakovce: How many Slovaks does it take to change a lightbulb? - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

March 22, 2015

Day 66 - Levice to Diakovce: How many Slovaks does it take to change a lightbulb?

My route today zigzagged on small roads, taking me generally west. It was still a bit hilly, not as steep as before, but enough to slow me down given my tired legs. The wind was strong, usually impeding me in some way, but I had an easier time than the birds, which were flying hard but making no forward progress. I felt like my progress was almost as slow, so I was elated when I finally caught a strong tailwind and started flying along. It should come as no surprise that I was going in the wrong direction.

Even taking my detour into account, I seem to be caught in a distance warp: the past couple of days, I've gone further than my meticulously mapped routes said I would. An extra 4km is a lot when you're tired. I can only conclude this is yet another way that Slovakia is being mean to me. I like Slovakia, but apparently the feeling is not reciprocated.

I hadn't noticed how much the roadkill situation had improved in the past couple weeks; sadly, I failed to properly appreciate it at the time and now I am once again biking past dead things.

I was thinking today about how much I like these new-fangled doors and windows I've been seeing in Europe, those confusing ones that open sideways or from the top, depending on which way you turn the handle. When did these happen and why don't they exist at home? Or do they, but I've been living under a rock? And all the flats seem to have separate rooms for the toilet and sink/shower. Talk about culture shock, having to go to another room to wash my hands after using the toilet.

Because the scenery was boring, I also had time to think about how helpful the signs directing me to the various supermarket chains are. At home, there might be an occasional billboard (in areas frequented by road-trippers), or nothing at all. But in Europe I can always find the next Kaufland, Tesco, Billa, Real, etc. So why has it been so easy to find supermarkets but so very hard to find accommodation?

It also seems to be remarkably easy to find bike shops in Slovakia, as Slovaks love cycling. And yet, despite their obvious love of hockey, I haven't seen anything that looks like a hockey rink.

One other thing I've noticed is a bit of a 'macho' vibe here in the way the men stare as I go past, even just walking on the street if it isn't crowded. I did not expect that here, but at least it isn't threatening, just a bit creepy, and even that's not a problem as long as I avoid eye contact.

In between all these European/Slovak musings, I had a couple good encounters today. The first was a fancy road cyclist who looked like a flashy bumblebee. He was happy to see me touring alone: "For man, this normal, but for woman... super!" The second was the woman at the hotel, who didn't speak any English but got all the details of my trip, was impressed and amazed without any hint of "but why?", and insisted on shaking my hand. What a welcome change from the usual!

And as for the age-old question of how many Slovaks it takes to change a lightbulb, the answer is two. But I don't know the punchline because they couldn't explain what was so funny. Whatever it was, it must've been good because one guy almost fell off the ladder.

After the beauty of the rest of Slovakia, this is actually painful to look at.
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Someone help! There's been an accident! (Wondering what it says about me that when struggling up a hill, I won't stop to photograph a breathtaking view or something interesting, but I will stop when I see something stupid in a ditch.)
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Thanks Google Maps. Too bad the photo doesn't capture the unusually three-dimensional nature of this road.
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Today's ride: 78 km (48 miles)
Total: 2,967 km (1,843 miles)

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