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Tour Leader Andrea Garreffa Talks Cycling: Poland Slovakia Plus! Hungary

Cycling Poland Slovakia Plus! Hungary!

Q & A With Tour Leader Andrea Garreffa

Cycling Poland Slovakia Plus! Hungary offers a variety of experiences all in one tour: fascinating cities, picturesque landscapes and plenty of history. But, what does that really mean? We thought it would be nice to provide an in-depth look at what this tour is like, so we asked tour leader Andrea Garreffa to share some of his favorite things about cycling through these three beautiful and diverse countries.

Who would love the rides on the Poland Slovakia Plus! Hungary Bicycle Tour?
If you are interested in both history and wilderness, in discovering itineraries completely off the beaten track… this is the tour for you! Riders begin in Krakow, exploring the Jewish heritage as well as marveling over one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe. Then you ride through the Slovakian wilderness and through (over) the Tatra mountain range, and finally you arrive in Hungary’s stunning capital by following the Danube into Budapest. Simply said, this tour has it all!

What can you tell us about the food (and drinks) on this tour? Are there any dishes that you look forward to when you know you are leading this tour?
Goulash –  a stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices that originated from the medieval Hungary. Goulash is now a popular meal predominantly eaten in Central Europe.

Slivovica – a fruit brandy made from damson plums and best enjoyed chilled. You can also find this plum brandy under the name “slivka.”

You cycle through 3 countries in 13 days, what are some of the cultural highlights on this tour?

A few of my favorite highlights by country are as follows:

  • Poland
    • Day 1 – Krakow: Rynek Główny.  Home to one of the biggest medieval squares in Europe, you just have to see it with your own eyes to realize how stunning it is.
  • Slovakia 
    • Day 5 – Spiš Castle.  Originally built in the 12th century and completely reconstructed in the 15th century, Spiš is one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • Day 8 – Stbske Pleso lake. This is the second largest glacial lake located in the picturesque mountains of the High Tatras.
  • Hungary
    • Day 12 – Budapest and Danube river. Never mind that Budapest is one of the historically richest cities in the world; the architecture and rich cultural history combine perfectly with the spectacular backdrop of the Danube river. This is one of the most interesting and beautiful cities you’ll ever visit.

What is it like traveling through three different countries?
This is a great way to experience the variety of landscapes, cultures, and history’s impact on neighboring countries. One of the best parts of Poland is the great care with which people care for their gardens. Cycling though beautiful flower displays never gets old. In Slovakia you are immersed in forests, mountains, wilderness and remote areas. In addition you will gain an understanding of what it felt like living in former communist countries through the architecture that is still visible today in towns like Poprad. Hungary seems to be in a parallel universe. The language and the culture are completely different from the first two. For an article about the political and economic history in this region, read Rick Price’s blog post from 2006.

What is the landscape like?
You’ll cycle through hilly mountainous terrain in Poland, wild forests in Slovakia, and stunning scenery along the Danube as you enter Budapest.

What sets this tour apart from others?
The remoteness of Slovakia.

Are there any other questions about this tour that you wish I’d asked you?
No, but I would recommend riders watch a beautiful movie called Walesa: man of hope.