Janis Brothers Great Biking Adventures
Budapest, Slovakia, Krakow - 2006
13th Annual Bike Trip

Day 1 Budapest, Hungary - One of the most picturesque cities we have ever visited. Two cites of "Buda" and "Pest" separated by the "Blue Danube River." We landed at 9:00 a.m. and were checked into our hotel Fiesta by 10:00 a.m. We secured a Hungarian guide, who gave us a fabulous 5 hour tour of the main sites of Budapest - churches, amazing buildings, the 2nd largest synagogue in the world (6,000 seats) with unusual Moorish architecture. No sky scrapers, friendly people, very clean. Hungarian goulash soup for lunch. We took an 8 mile (3 hours) walk around the river and across the bridge after dinner. Three Hungarian beers ended our day. Lenny provided us with "Janis Brothers Jackets." While walking through a local district that evening, we were "solicited" 3 or 4 different times. Lenny was convinced it was the jackets!! "Chick magnets." We declined, naturally. 
Day 2 After breakfast, another 3 hour walk around the city before our van pick up to drive us to Szentendre, our biking starting point. We visited an open-air Hungarian village museum and had a short warm-up bike ride. We met our guides - Brano, Joliane and Milan as well as Judith (Quebec), and Kelly (London, England). Three guides and 5 riders - we never had it so well. Dinner in a small village restaurant - Goulash, Chicken Paprikash, Goose Liver, Schnapps and Strudel.
Day 3

Our first of many challenging days of cycling from Szentendre to Esztergom. Several long and steep climbs through forests with a short 10-minute ferry ride to a small island for more biking. We celebrated our first day (traditional for all 9 days) with local beers and discussion of the sites of the day, forests, views of the Danube Valley, massive castle and cathedral in town.

Day 4 Journey to Dudince - We crossed the border on bikes from Hungary to Slovakia in the morning. After a long ride of rolling hills, we stopped for a great picnic lunch at a country winery. We were given a once-in-a-lifetime demonstration in wine making using an old wooden wine press. We traveled on roads that were like bike paths - no cars for most of our entire 8 day trip. We stayed at the Hotel Rubin near the Hot Springs sulfur baths. These were all constructed during the Communist years - very austere.
Day 5 Banska Stiavnica - This day's route followed a gorgeous path through forests, running parallel to a small river. After a picnic lunch, the cycling got more challenging, as we climbed into the Stiavnica hills. Banska Stiavnica is a UNESCO World Heritage site with an ancient legacy of gold and silver mining.
Day 6 Banska Bystrica - Lots of steep climbs that were 12% grade - very, very challenging. No traffic, quiet roads through forests, meadows, farm valleys. A lunch for the ages at a lakeside Slovakian restaurant deep in the woods. Slovakian blintzes, sour cream, goat cheese, dumplings and potatoes. Great tasting, but not good for hill climbing after lunch!!
Day 7 Sharp (steep) climbs - a 7 mile ascent with many 12% grades. Very exhausted at the end of our day, but emotionally feeling great. Everyone was up to the challenge. More Slovakian beers before dinner, then Sauerkraut and garlic soup, liver pancakes, goose, red cabbage and strudel - "Not quite our normal eating routines!!" We stopped for coffee and pastry at Milan's home on the river facing the mountains. We had a wonderful time with great hospitality. Plum and apple trees as well as walnut trees - all ready for eating - just take your pick.
Day 8 Another long, steep climb with many sections that were 12% grade. We biked through beautiful fall colors, through awe-inspiring mountain ranges.
Day 9 A day we will never forget. We visited Auschwitz Concentration camp located 15 kilometers west of Krakow. It is not a place you want to see. It is a place you must see. Auschwitz was a very emotional experience. This was man's inhumanity and cruelty at the worst level. There were thousands of visitors of all ethnic backgrounds while we were there. Seeing buses upon buses of students and young people actually viewing what took place 60 years ago and will hopefully help prevent future genocides. Has the world really changed for the better since 1942?!!
  After a 2 hour ride back to Krakow, we visited the famous Wieliczka salt mines that started over 700 years ago and go 300 meters underground. This is one of the most famous tourist attractions in all of Poland. Spectacular salt-carved statues, an underground cathedral, truly 700 years of historical significance.
  We stopped for a few Polish beers and delicious soup in bread bowls. This last evening was spent at the Wenzl Hotel located on the main square in Krakow. Though we only had 3-4 hours, the main square was very festive. Beautiful churches and buildings with people everywhere enjoying the night's environment. We wished we had more time to spend in Krakow, but it was time to return to our real everyday lives. 
  This was a magical trip for all of us - perfect weather, fascinating cities and villages, delicious local cuisine, great beer, three different countries and cultures, forests, valleys, challenging climbs everyday, breath-taking down hills, only 5 riders and 3 guides, no newspapers, TV, Blackberries, or any contact with the world.
  This was our 13th trip for the Janis Brothers. Naturally, we completed EFI. Once again, we reunited with a brotherly bond that continues to strengthen every year and will never be broken. We will ride again next year for another true adventure.

Na zdravie - ("to your health")

Fun-filled Highlights & Memorable Moments
Poppy seed bakery in Slovakia and Poland.
Larry thought Dobry Den was the name of a town. It means "Good Day" in Slovakian!!
No need for maps - 3 guides for 5 riders
Kelly - played professional rugby for 10 years
We couldn't pronounce or remember any of the small towns or villages.
More steep climbs everyday than any other trip.
Salt mine near Krakow.
Excellent guides and fellow riders. Thanks, Brano, Joliane, Milan, Judith & Kelly.
Lenny - "The Spirit" of the group.
Les - Strong rider as usual - especially at 10 lbs. lighter.
Great Trek Bikes with saddle bags.
Lenny - new downhill record - 68k's or 42 MPH.
Trail mix - all kinds
Larry's famous quote "6 kilometers is a lot of miles" (Look out, Yogi)
9 straight days of sunshine - 65-70° - no wind - perfect.
The reservoir (dam) short climb - the steepness part of the grade was beyond belief for 50 yards - 35%! No hernias or heart attacks. We made it.
Lenny - 008, 009, 010 jackets and shirts. The best ever. Thanks, also to Les for his best pre-trip 007 video - Outstanding.
Sharing these wonderful moments together - Priceless!!