25th and 26th September 2018

Vienna –> Podivín –> Bratislava–> 

Amy and James got up at the crack of dawn to go sightseeing with Sumo in Vienna. It was a crisp, sunny morning and they wanted to beat the tourists and, more importantly, whizz down the one way streets away from the eyes of the law abiding Austrians. They both felt very smug pulling up outside the Hofburg Palace, until they saw flashing blue lights, heard the howl of a siren and a saw a police car hurtling towards them. Hearts racing, the car tore past them and off onto things much more scandalous than two tourists in a bright pink tuk tuk trying to get a good Instagram picture.

Hofburg Palace, Vienna in the early morning

Mission accomplished, we all headed out of Vienna and made a beeline for the Czech Republic border. Strong winds meant that the “crisp” sunny morning very quickly became freezing cold, and James was desperately wrestling with the tuk tuk’s handlebars to keep it on the road. Numb and tired a few hours later we parked up to seek refuge in a cafe. The place was like a roadside trucker’s café from the 90s with everyone smoking inside and yoghurt with fruit served as if it was ice cream sundae. Caffeinated and fed we trundled back to the tuk tuk and it was immediately evident that Bharat’s worst fear had come true – two parking tickets. Our quick, cheap coffee had turned into the trip’s most expensive mistake yet! *Call for help* – experienced German translator needed for Bharat to appeal the parking fine!


Amy, who could not stand the freezing cold any longer, raided the camping gear for a sleeping bag in a bid to keep warm in the tuk tuk. Heaving herself into the tuk tuk in the sleeping bag made for hilarious viewing for Rachel and complete bewilderment for the local Austrian shop owners. You can have a chuckle for yourself:



We should have realised sooner why this corner of Austria was so abundant in wind turbines and even the sleeping bag wasn’t helping relieve Amy from the arctic winds. In a bid to relieve her misery, as we crossed over the Czech border, Amy was horizontal trying to do what she does best…sleep. Crossing into the Czech Republic was uneventful – the only noticeable difference was the plummeting population of brand new BMWs, Mercedes and other smart cars on the road.

John’s Castle, Podivín near Lednice, Czech Republic

Rachel took the team off to a castle near Lednice for a photograph to promote our Czech sponsor, White Swan Aesthetics, and an explore – and an explore it was, as we traversed the Czech countryside on the cycle paths. Rachel ordered the tuk tuk to turn left and 10m further on Amy found herself on a boggy footpath and having to reverse up a 12 degree gradient. Rachel had, yet again, failed to demonstrate her self-promoted navigation skills.

After a quick “grill lunch”, where Bharat selflessly opted for garlic soup, we headed down towards Bratislava for the evening and battled with the double threat of pot holed Slovakian roads and kamikaze drivers who have a real penchant for overtaking on tight corners with oncoming traffic driving in a similar fashion. We quickly unpacked our bags and went for an explore in the charming old city before sunset. Amy had described Bratislava as a “dump” from her Inter-railing days, but everyone was presently surprised by how charming it was. The chilly evening was a perfect time to get out our lovely scarves courtesy of our Slovakian sponsor, Bags of Plenty.


Fresh after an evening of facemasks and more banagrams, we set off for the Hungarian border and Bharat’s route planning which, until this point, had been largely flawless started to unravel. If anyone has an upcoming driving or cycling holiday on the Slovakian-Hungarian border, you are strongly advised to avoid the E65 road which seems to handle 90% of Europe’s heavy goods traffic. This made for a hair raising morning as Bharat and Rachel bounced down the road, the tiny tuk tuk almost disappearing amongst the 40 ton HGVs.


The apocalypse alarm went off and Bharat barked orders for an alternative route to be taken. Led by the often geographically challenged Amy, we set off into the Hungarian countryside passing through tiny villages and bumping along rough, unmade roads. Locals stared at us bemused from their ancient tractors and we were often forced onto the verge by bus drivers who seemed to have no respect for the rules of the road. It had been a long time since we passed a petrol station or anywhere to get food and it was welcome relief to come across a provincial town serving honey mustard chicken salads. Perhaps we should have guessed being sat across from a very out of place, Chinese Supermarket that honey mustard was just code for glutinous sweet and sour. 


Before reaching Keszthely for the night, we took a short detour via Europe’s largest natural thermal lake – Lake Heviz. Amy and James sped on ahead in the Fiat to secure entry for the team before it closed at 6pm, but Bharat (in the tuktuk), who couldn’t hear James’ instructions over the phone, took it upon himself to direct Rachel to some random lake in completely the opposite direction. Rachel and Bharat didn’t get to swim, but Amy and James took the plunge in the sulphery, eggy smelling, water for a whole 7 minutes before it closed.


Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 18: Bharat – We stopped to fill up with petrol at a HUGE Tesco in the Czech Republic: the first Tesco of the trip. Bharat was adamant that they would accept his clubcard. They didn’t.
  • Day 19: Amy and James – Who got trapped in the car park for Lake Heviz as they had no Hungarian cash and had to sweet talk some Australian travellers to bail them out. James had to turn up the charm further when the first 100 Forint coin was swallowed by the machine and they needed a second.


Sponsor of the countries:

  • Czech Republic: White Swan Aesthetics 

Facial aesthetics is an art. Stunning enhancements and beautiful refreshing anti-ageing treatments rely on the perfect blend of knowledge, skill, a delicate approach and an artistic eye. The doctors at White Swan are trained to understand the subtleties in face shape and how to hand-craft results which work in harmony with each client’s individual features. Their doctors take the time to carry out the carefully constructed 6-step White Swan consultation protocol so that the perfect, bespoke treatment package can be put together and the best possible treatment outcomes delivered. Clinics all over London. Do take a look at their website:

Thank you to White Swan Aesthetics, our Sponsor for the Czech Republic 

Slovakia: Bags of Plenty 

Bags of Plenty was set up in November 2014 by sisters Vanessa Ramm and Caroline Mackness. Their ethos is to share and bring beautiful things from hidden markets to British shores. They’ve brought beautiful knitted scarves from Dublin and handmade leather bags from Ibiza, everything wonderfully crafted and individually made. The lovely triangular woollen scarves worn by the Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team below were just what we needed in the very chilly air of Bratislava. Take a peek at their website and see the lovely and unusual bags, scarves and belts on offer:

Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team in their snuggly woollen scarves from Bags of Plenty


Funniest moment of the Day:

  • Day 18: Rachel banged on all day about a weird smell in the Czech Republic. After spending most of dinner googling olfactory hallucinations, she discovered that it was actually coming from her hands! Quite what she’d washed them with we’ll never know.
  • Day 19: Lonely Planet described Keszthely as “lively with a relaxed ambiance”. We walked round the entire town and saw not a single soul, only a white cat. See photo below. Keszthely livened up for us slightly as we sat alone eating Goulash in the only restaurant open (which incidentally was run by a Hungarian who spoke with a broad Lincolnshire accent) and Shakira starting blasting through the speakers.

The lively town of Keszthely, Hungary



Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of Hungarian women with dyed Burgundy hair: 37 spotted and counting
  • Accomodation we’ve stayed in next to a local torture museum: 1
  • Number of HGVs that overtook the tuk tuk: 53
  • Number of countries in the EU not using the Euro:9 (we’re going through 5/9)
  • Countries completed:11/21 – over halfway!


Highlight of the Day: A Czech waitress asking if we wanted water with sparkles! Who wouldn’t!




Bratislava Old Town, Slovakia


John’s Castle, Podivín, Czech Republic


Statue of Peeping Man, Bratislava Old Town


The first Tesco we’ve seen so far on our travels


She will emerge from her chrysalis when the temperature rises and the wind drops in a few days time…



Great set of gnashers


Castle Lednice, Czech Republic


Google leads us down an overgrown footpath yet again


Our journey so far. On track and 11/21 countries visited so far


One of hundreds of nodding donkeys littering the Austrian countryside as we drive towards Czech Republic


Rather than relaxing James and Rach found the face mask thing quite disturbing

Keszthesly, Hungary

Tuk Tuk on the Train Tracks

Blue Church, Bratislava, Slovakia

Free blow dry

Vienna, Austria at dawn