Next Friday, (April 28) along with Gareth.W and Tim.I , I commence our ride from Prague to Budapest. A leisurely ride through southern Czech Republic, touching Austria and Slovakia before finishing in the Hungarian capital. According to STRAVA route planner the distance is just shy of 700km.
This ride is all part of Gareth.W's great ride from London to Istanbul and is section 3. The first two sections being London to Hanover and then Hanover to Prague. The latter section was ridden in 2019 and I was kindly invited to join him for it. (See earlier postings for that trip report)
The first logistic is getting from London to Prague with our bikes. Actually, forget the 'bikes' bit. Pretty quickly the decision was made by Gareth that for this section it would be easier to rent bikes in Prague. Research was done, and it was discovered that we could rent the bikes for EUR 10 a day from a wonderful bike rental shop in Prague called OKOLO Bike Rental. http://www.okolo-bikes.cz/ .
The small issue we faced is that we were not planning on returning to Prague once we had arrived in Budapest. So the question begged to be asked, how do we get the bikes back to Prague?. ''No problem'' said Michal at OKOLO
For an additional charge of EUR 70 per bike he'd organise to collect them from us in Budapest. Just give him the address of where we are going to leave them in Budapest and he will organise collection.
Why rent as opposed to taking our own bikes? Well as we are about to find out, it is logistically both expensive and difficult to export a bike to a destination. Especially if your end of ride point is different to the start.
Shipping a bike on an airplane involves putting it in a sturdy bike box, crossing your fingers that the baggage handlers can read the ''FRAGILE'' stickers you've attached to the outside and then double crossing your fingers that they give the bike box the due care it necessitates. Once you've arrived at the start point, unpack the bike, re-assemble the bike, store the bike box somewhere and go cycling. Return, just repeat the process. However if you're finishing your ride 700 km away from where you started then the issue is how do you get your bike box from the start to the finish. That's difficult.
Long story cut short. This time around, we are renting bikes.
Now to the ''getting there'' bit. Being conscious of the climate we briefly discussed the idea of catching a train to Prague. With an increasingly large number of ''sleeper'' trains now being bought back into service by various European railway companies, it sounded appealing to enjoy a leisurely trip across Europe watching the countryside glide by from the seat of a train. Not only that, by my calculations our carbon footprint would be almost 6 times less. Our co2 amount would be 0.434T by plane , and just 0.072T by train.
Research into the costing soon nuked that idea. Both from a time and cost perspective.
Firstly we have to get to Europe. Using my favourite train website I did some research.
The man in Seat 61 suggests that the cheapest way to get to Prague from London is via Brussels, and by only using day trains as opposed to the more expensive overnight sleepers. So I got researching. Eurostar from London to Brussels return is EUR 268 (GBP£ 235 or AUD$ 435). Getting from Brussels to Prague and back to Brussels is EUR 376 (GBP£ 330 or AUD$ 610) . This also involves an overnight stop in Brussels. So unless one is camping in the Brussels train terminus then you're going to be paying approximately EUR 100 (GBP£ 88 or AUD$ 163) for accommodation. Throw in dinner when you arrive into Brussels and breakfast the next day then your total cost for your overnight stay in Brussels will be approximately EUR 150 (GBP 130 or AUD$ 240) . All of this excludes the cost that train services now charge for bike carriage. Let's make it a generous 50 EUR each way from London to Prague . So there is another EUR100 (GBP 88 or AUD$ 160) in costs. Not forgetting of course that on the return journey you will most likely be staying overnight in Brussels again.
London to Brussels on Eurostar return = EUR 268
Overnight stay Brussels x 2 = EUR 300
Train from Brussels to Prague return = EUR 376
Bike carriage return = EUR 100
Total financial cost to travel by train to Prague with bike and return = EUR 1,044 (GBP£ 920 or AUD$ 1,700)
Travel time = 3 days
Now let's compare doing it by flight.
Train to Gatwick Airport return = EUR 36 (GBP£ 32 or AUD$ 60)
Flight to Prague and back from Budapest with check in luggage = EUR 210 (GBP£ 185 or AUD$ 340)
Bike hire from Prague to Budapest = EUR 77 (GBP£ 67 or AUD$124)
Bike pick up service = EUR 70 (GBP£ 61 or AUD$ 113)
Total financial cost to travel by plane from London to Prague return and rent a bike = EUR 393 (GBP£ 345 or AUD$ 640)
Travel time = 1 day
So in summary....Approximately EUR 1,000 to go by train or EUR 400 to go by plane.
A difference of EUR 600 (GBP£ 528 or AUD$ 976)
3 days to get there by train versus 1 by plane.
I love the climate. But the cost of being green? A lot.