If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words…

22,542 kilometers (14,007 miles)…is the distance we pedaled over the last 19 months in 25 countries plus 3 more countries we either took a ferry to or flew by plane for Visa runs to extend our time in Thailand.

Europe Part #2 from Budapest to Amsterdam took us 8 weeks, where we loved all the amazing and dedicated cyclying infastructure throughout 7 beautiful European countries.

Czech Republic

Laos ✈️
Singapore ✈️

Morroco 🚢

My/our emotions are mixed as we complete our 2nd long distance cycling tour and return home to the USA where we will both go back to work and call the Bay Area home while we plan our next tour in the foreseeable future. We will visit both of our families for some quality time and are mostly excited to begin this new chapter in our lives and relationship and be closer to Family & Friends.

Thank YOU all for following along on this incredible journey over the past year and a half. Your L♥️VE, Support, and Prayers were definitely felt and are bringing us HOME safely for countless HUGS. I’ll write another blog within the next month after I/we process all the amazing and incredible expieriences. We are Blessed, Thankful, & Forever changed by the Great Big Beautiful World we all live and breathe in.

Amsterdam was the perfect city to complete this tour that we started in Lisbon nineteen months ago. It was a photographers dream with bicycles everywhere, doorways to ?, and canal after canal of stunning architecture.

Picture This… Schnitzel This

Budapest, Hungary was the perfect place for us to begin our second time of cycle touring in Europe. What a beautiful and vibrant city full of amazing food, history, and culture. Our Airbnb was perfect with a pinball machine, a loft bedroom, a full kitchen, and access to a washing machine too.

Dotted with unique architectural masterpieces, Budapest’s skyline suggests an old world charm, accentuated by the fact that there’s not a skyscraper in sight. On the food walking tour that we took on our first full day in the city we learned that no building in Budapest can stand at over 96 metres (314.9 ft) tall. This is thanks to regulations which restrict building height, and the fact that the number 96 has symbolic value in the country. It was in 896 that Hungarian Magyars first came to the area, and the first stages of the Hungarian Kingdom were born.

As you walk through the streets looking up constantly at the beautiful architecture you’ll notice something a little bit uniform about the city’s skyline. Buildings seem to stand at the same height, with two spires rising above the rest. There’s not a skyscraper in sight and the tallest buildings don’t seem to be more than eight stories high. The lack of ultra modern high rise buildings allows the city to retain a historic appearance that is truely eye appealing.

St Stephen’s Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament Building set the presedence for this height legislation after the completion of these two buildings in the early 1900’s. However, both stand at the same height – 96m – and represent religion and government respectively. Their equal heights are no coincidence. The fact that one is not taller than the other is significant, as it shows that neither religion nor government is more important than the other.

We definitely could’ve spent more time in this elegant and vibrant European city, but we were also eager to begin pedaling on our new Specialized Sequoia gravel touring bikes and to start working off the weight gain from our five weeks off the bikes celebrating my 50th in Thailand and Singapore with family and friends.

Always fun to tag something with our sticker and a link to our blog and this was the perfect spot at Szimpla Ruin Bar.

Bratislava, Slovakia was our next country we pedaled through on a quick two day adventure of seeing a few sights and trying to stay cool in the 40 Celcius temperatures. We enjoyed the city squares and loved being back in the outdoor cafe and restaurant culture of Europe where it’s great people watching. We also met some other cyclying tourists from the UK (Kris & Jill), from another cycle tourist Renata that we met last year in Bulgaria who introduced us to them via social media. It was fun sharing meals and stories from the road with them. We met up with them again in Vienna & Salzburg before Jill and I both sang “So Long Farewell, We Hate to Say Goodbye”, as they departed through Germany and we went onward to Prague.

Austria was a dream come true for both of us as we always heard such great things about the cycling infastructure. Another dream of course for both of us (more me) from the first and numerous times we’ve seen the 1965 Academy Award winning movie The Sound of Music. Vienna was stunning, and as Tim said it best in a previous blog post “it’s like walking in an outdoor museum”. We were both in awe of the countless statues that adorned the tops of every building, and the entricit designs and craftsmanship in the details of all the buildings. After Vienna, we pedaled through the amazing dedicated bike paths along the Danube River, through picturesque villages, and a little side trip to “Climb Every Mountain” into some of the beautiful Lake regions on our way to Salzburg. I sang songs from the movie as I was more excited than a kid at Christmas or going to Disneyland to finally seeing where “The Hills Are Alive” and seeing the famous sights and scenes where the SOM was filmed. It was on Sunday, August 20th that the dream came true of finally arriving in Salzburg where we also realized we crossed the threshold of 20,0000km obtained on our cycle tour that had begun 17.5 months ago.

As we’re pedaling from city to city, and new experiences each day, one can only imagine it gives us both a lot of time to reflect and think about anything and everything. It was in these moments throughout Austria that I realized I’ll be just like Rose from the Golden Girls one day as I say “Picture This, Austria in August of 2018”, to anyone that will listen and go into a story about this incredible, rewarding, and eye-opening adventure the two of us have experienced throughout 26 countries in Europe and Asia.

So, Picture This if you will as “These are a few of my Favorite Things”, I’ll always remember about Austria.
-apple, pear, and plum trees
-pumpkin patches & sad end of season sunflower fields
-corn fields & Christmas tree farms
-vinyards with white grapes on one side and red ones on the other
-solar powered homes in small villages along the Danube River
-do a deer a female deer running through a field we cycled by, and re a drop of golden sun at 40 degrees Celsius (104F) and 90% humidity
-tree lined bike paths covered in leaves pedaling by a stream or river
-church bells ringing…and feeling the sense that we were late for something just like Maria running back to the Abbey.
-perfect flowers adorned in window boxes on every home
-crystal clear lakes and majestic mountains as their backdrop

Another one of my “Favorite Things”, is a pork breaded tenderloin as we call them back in Indiana where I was born and raised. It’s always on the list of foods to have when I go home to visit family and friends now. Well here in this part of the world it’s called Schnitzel, and I can’t get enough of this delicacy that we’ve found in each country since Hungary and now in Germany. As we sit down for dinner, Tim will ask, “what are you having”, and I’ll say Schnitzel, and he’ll say “you had that last night”, and I’ll say “yes”. I mean come on, you can’t go wrong with something deep fried and breaded can you? It’s usually served with a side salad, frittas, and if your lucky a cranberry sauce to add to the pork schnitzel.

So, “Schnitzel This” if you will as we’ve had all of these from Budapest to Berlin now.
-Cordon Bleu

Schnitzel (pork), Spatzel, & Salad

Schnitzel, Frittas, & Chanterelle mushrooms in season now for only 2 months…lucky us. 😋

After Salzburg, we had a week to reach Prague the capital of the Czech Republic. We we’re excited to finally see this city with its rich history in Central Europe and the Gothic, Rennisance, & Baroque architecture it’s world famous for with sights such as the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Astronomical Clock (that was unfortunately under renovation), and the John Lennon Wall just to name a few. Our most exciting attraction to see was our friend Luis Legaspi, a friend and ALC brother from San Diego that was traveling in Europe for some weddings. He had made a post on the Book of Face as where to go between the weddings, and I said “meet us in Prague”. It was great to see him, hug him, and spend quality time with him and getting to know more about each other in this magical city. Needless to say, Prague was a little overwhelming for Tim and I with the amount of tourists that were everywhere, so the three of us escaped by finding some cafes to eat & drink, and also found a local gay bar that we went to each night. Prague receives 8.5 million visitors annually and is the 5th most desired city to see in Europe we later learned, so this makes more sense as to why we felt like a salmon going upstream when we were near all the tourist traps. We both want to come back to this city if there is such a thing as off-season for Prague.

From Prague, it was music to my ears as I was told it would be relatively flat all the way to Berlin, and it was compared to the 13,000 feet of elevation we climbed from Salzburg to Prague over 7 days with a rest day in Cesky Krumlove.

In Berlin we we’re excited to meet some International Participants for the AIDS/LifeCycle ride that Tim and are passionate about back in the states. Jens and Thilo met us out for dinner and drinks two nights while we were there and have 9 years combined of flying to SF and doing this incredible 545 mile ride over 7 days to LA. We look forward to pedaling with the two of them next year when we do the ride again as well.

We loved our overnight stay in Potsdam just outside of Berlin the day before we arrived for 3 full rest days to take in some of the sights from this famous city with so much history from countless wars and of course the Berlin Wall. We did a free walking tour and learned that the TV tower is taller in height than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. One of our rest days was a cold, rainy, and overcast day that we used to do laundry and send a package back home, and some Netflix & Chill.

On Friday we took a tour of the Reichstag Building that’s the historic glass-domed building of Parliment. After 18 months of touring now we come to realize that we enjoy the quiet countryside and less touristy parts of a country compared to the countless tourist traps of a major city or capital of the country. There are only so many churches, castles, and other places that Google or friends tells you that you need to see before you are just like “eh okay, get me back on the bike with the fresh air and surprise me” part of our journey.

We left Berlin this morning as we’ve decided to go North and see the Baltic Sea across Germany on our way to Amsterdam. It was another amazing ride of dedicated bike paths on the Euro Velo 7, that took us through forest and around lakes to our Pension as it’s expected to dip down to 11 C (52F) tonight which is too cold to camp for these California boys.

Here are some of my favorite photos from Budapest to Berlin. If you want to see more, especially all the ones I took in Salzburg, I’ve told you once and I’ll tell you again, you should be following me on Instagram @scubastevecyclist where I’ve posted so many pictures from our last year and a half of pedaling.

A stunning church (just look at those colors) that we stumbled upon after a climb out of Austria into Czechia in the middle of nowhere

Who recognizes this famous lake and house?

I am 16 going on 17…well not really I am 50 going on 51 and Tim is 42 going on 43. 💃😉🎼

Karlskirche. A stunning Baroque style of Architecture Church in Vienna.