After taking the train to Maribor, I proceeded to bike 880 miles over the next 13 days.
Here are some logistical notes:
Bike: My 90s hardtail from Ljubljana was a trooper. No mechanical issues whatsoever. While my skin was viciously rent by brambles, the tubes were impervious.
Hotels: As predicted, these got cheaper, better, and more frequent as August turned to September and I got further east. In Austria, I would usually be forced to bike 30 miles further than desired to get something halfway decent for 40 euros. In Poland, it was fairly easy to find an attractive private room with bath ensuite for 25.
Route: The current EuroVelo map was drawn up in 1997, so you might expect the routes to be fairly well-defined in 2021. But they are extremely spotty, and their English coverage online even more so. Half an hour into wading thigh-deep in an overgrown swamp, it occurred to me that I had not been following the careful curations of a dedicated team of bike enthusiasts, but the misguided machinations of an uncaring AI. And this had probably been the case for hundreds of miles. The routes are clearly signed and consistently low-traffic throughout all of Austria, but become a little more random in the Czech Republic, and are mostly non-existent in Poland. But Poland is full of quiet country roads, so if you were to largely ignore the route and piece together your own by finding minor paved roads on OpenStreetMap and verifying those on Google street view, you’d probably do all right.
Food: Restaurants were not as prevalent or affordable as I had hoped. Most of Austria is extremely quiet, but does have plenty of 24hr farm strands and wine stores. Most of the village restaurants seem to be closed much, if not all, of the time. The Czech Republic is much more lively and it’s easier to find open restaurants. Poland only seems to have decent dining options in larger towns, but has frequent grocery stores and some pizza and kebab shops.
Water: I never refilled during the day, but I think you could probably ask at a bar or find a tap on the side of the road, which will likely announce its potability in a language you don’t read.
Weather: When the weather was good, it was perfect. Temperatures were usually in the 60s and the sun was often behind a cloud. But there were intermittent heavy rains and I once heard tornado sirens. I was frequently soaked and large sections of trail were submerged. I had to empty my bag and hang up all my clothes nearly every night.
Covid: Austria seemed to want you to register to eat at any restaurant, though I was able to avoid this by not speaking the language. I did have to show my vaccination card at most restaurants and hotels; the cities had more of this than the countryside. There were often mask mandates. Restrictions decreased considerably in the Czech Republic and disappeared entirely in Poland. I don’t remember any vaccination checks at the airports, but I did have to get my first ever covid test prior to boarding my flight to the States; it was available for $50 at the airport hotel in Warsaw and took about 10 minutes, and was checked by the United/TSA? representative in Frankfurt.
Overall: The riding was mostly very pleasant, safe, and straight-forward. I considered continuing through three more countries to Tallinn or Helsinki, but was just a bit bored and missing human interaction, and fairly over the non-stop schedule.