Komárno to Dunakiliti

I don’t remember waking up. I took a picture of my morning coffee and how I brewed it. I only ate a single breakfast of oats, nuts, and fruit for breakfast on the road so I’m sure I ate that. I was heading to Dunakiliti where there was a campsite that I planned to stay that night. The riding was right around 70 kilometers or so but possibly more.

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I followed the highway 1 to the city of Győr, Hungary, where I planned to stop for lunch. The ride was something like 30 or 40 kilometers, I’m not too sure how long. Fields opened up beyond overpasses when cars and trucks become less frequent. They would come in bursts of fast moving vehicles shaking my bike and then they would dissipate and I would be left again with the trees and fields.

Ács

Ács

 

The road was smooth and straight and my gloved hands barely had to hold the leather grips of my handlebar to keep the bike steady. The wind pushed gently against my skin and I wore my rain jacket to stay warm  even though the sun shone. At this point I had 4 panniers and a handlebar bag all filled with gear. As I remember it, my front panniers held my food and electronics and other strange items thats I didn't have much use for, but I bought them because I felt I should. My back panniers held all my clothes, sleeping bag, tent, bike equipment, and more things I did not need. In conclusion, it was a heavy bike and each of my muscles felt it.

 

The highway 1 kept extending and extending across field after fields with breaks of forest in between. Wind turbines scattered across the horizon like buoys similar to radio towers.  Each one spun at a different speed and it was mediative to sit and watch them spin and spin while others did nothing. A large group of deer grazed in a field and I stopped my bike to watch. A car drove by quickly, the driver not noticing the deer, and in turn the deer ran back to the safety and darkness of the trees. I stood straddling my bike for a few more moments before putting my headphones back in and pushed my bike forward and continued to ride.

 

I continued on and on across for about two hours until I started to see signs stating that Győr would be coming soon. I relied on signs I didn’t understand for a lot of my navigation.

Ács

Ács

 

Going up a very long, hilly guided bike path that eventually joined the road again and eventually made it to a roundabout in the eastern part of the city. Turning right would take me onto highway 14, north out of Győr, which I eventually planned to take. Instead I continued along highway 1 and turned right onto the small street Baross Gábor út where I planned to eat, drink, and slightly shower at the sanctuary that is known as Mcdonald's.

 

Now I understand the silliness and then hypocrisy that eating at a Mcdonalds means when traveling but the golden arches are so much more than a fast food joint slowly clogging arteries. They offer wifi, they don’t discriminate against a dirty sweating kid pushing half his bodyweight on a steel bike.

 

There is a couple, both bike touring as well, sitting besides their bicycles and I leaned my bike up against a pole near them and asked if they could watch my bike and  they replied they will. I went inside, ordered a Mcflurry(which isn’t nearly as good as an American Mcflurry) and had  a lunch of nutella and peanut butter; typical for my lunch.

 

The small section of seating was covered and overlooked a small courtyard that held a playground. The structure of the buildings was very similar to the courtyards in Budapest with the Soviet cement white block style  that were all monotone and plain. The unembellished windows and staircases that surrounded the small playground matched the essence of the city of dullness and structure. Small families came with their children and teenagers loitered about similar to what I was used to in the United States. In moments like this you forget your time and place and that you are in a completely different country where you do not speak the language and have no idea where you are. It is in these moments that you sit and drink or eat and stare at the world around you, not noticing anything yet taking in every single detail.

Győr

Győr

 

I continued to sit there for a few more moments until I checked the time and began pack my bags to continue along the road. I stuffed my food back into my pannier, which was bursting with bananas, avocados, and the such, and maneuvered my bike back onto the road and took a left onto the highway 14 that would begin to lead me north.

 

The road eventually become a path and the path followed a old country roads and it meandered through small towns and in and out of fields. I passed bushes of blackberries and I would stop for a moment to catch my breath and eat a few, taking in the field that extended a kilometer away before reaching a wall of trees.

The small towns felt empty of any people except the few dogs that would bark and pace behind fences. There was always a church in the center of town, pretty much always gated and always a yellow-tan complexion with a green steeple. The houses surrounding the church were similar in colour expect their roofs were tiled and a clay-like red, like you would expect in a Italian countryside.. Pretty much all were a single story except some pockets were rich and elegant, completely misplaced from the other houses in the town yet they still had their own appeal.

Püski

Püski

 

I began to feel my thighs burn. It was more flat than before and the wind pushed against me. It also had begun to get cold. I rode through the village of Püski and down more roads passings more trees and more fields. I became lonely and wanted the day of riding to end soon. Maps can be misleading and can make you think the distance will go by quicker. Knowing something is 10 kilometers away does not help much for you ego or you mental health when you do not know the trouble that could happen in the next 10 kilometers. It could rain, or it could all be uphill. The bags could fall off the bike and you could spend 10 minutes trying to mend the hooks to fit back. I was tired and I was lonely and I pushed harder.

 

By the time I reached Dunasziget, a town 5 or so kilometers south of Dunakiliti, I was ready to find a small grove to pitch my tent and call it a day. I knew if I did that I would not have the pleasure of being able to call home or have clean water or take a shower, so I pressed on. Back and forth through familiar fields and through the routine of stopping every 10 minutes or so to check and make sure I was on the right patch, I eventually made it to Dunakiliti.

Győr

Győr

 

Seeing the signs for the village was a relief and it took me 10 more minutes of riding around to eventually just find campground. It was on a small tributary which fed into the Danube a short distance to the East. Across a small bridge was a  resort spa hotel that sold rooms for $100 a night, which I considered. It all worked out and I paid the 1500 HUF, roughly $6, to stay the night at the campground. I tried pitching my tent, struggling to put the stakes into the loose soil, when the man who managed the campground came over and lend me his hammer. I took it, finished setting my gear into my tent, and went to the hotel for a beer.







 

Paris

This is just my personal opinion and you may receive different treatment or encounter a much different city than the one I did; so take what I say with a grain of salt. I heard mixed reviews of Paris before I actually visited it; like I had for many other cities. I heard it to be dirty, busy, unsafe, touristy, expensive, and many other terms that would qualify it to be a waste of time. I was warned of gypsies, thieves, scams, and pickpockets. Constantly being told tips and tricks to avoid my wallet, passport, or life being taken from me. Worries rushed my head on what could happen and I mentally prepared myself for the worst. Little did I know that Paris would be one of the most beautiful and magical places I have visited to date.

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Take what I say with a grain of salt; your own experience or experiences may be different than my own.

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Paris was my American fantasy of European. Yes, in the geographic sense but also emotionally. Everything was sexy. When entering a restaurant, cafe, bar, or grocery store and politely exchanging a “bonjour” or “bonsoir” with whoever was working was cheerful and pleasant. The language was romantic and beautiful even when I didn’t know what anyone was saying. It made everywhere feel welcoming(this is being added to the list of “things that we should do in the United States”). The collective groups of young and old people sitting on the lawn of the Louvre, or the Trocadéro and socialize, drink, and eat together is something that is truly remarkable to see. The thing I enjoy most about a cafe is how the people gather into it as a social place. In Paris, with the sparkling Eiffel tower as a backdrop on the lawn of the Louvre, it was the social place for so many people

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In regards to coffee in Paris - When I asked the baristas I spoke to about the coffee culture I was usually met with “it is a lot better than it was four years ago”. This may be true to the large amounts of traditional espresso and prominence of “Illy”, “Lavazza”, and other “true Italiano” espressos in the city; but I found that what specialty coffee Paris has, it does right.

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Belleville Brûlerie has a roastery and tasting room located in the Belleville neighborhood in Paris. The neighborhood was bustling with mostly younger people, not many, if any, tourists. Being a retail space, roastery, and a tasting room; the folks at Belleville provide fine coffees to cafes all throughout the city as well as their cafe & bar concept in the same neighborhood.

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Serving espresso, filter coffees hot & iced, and conversating about the coffees they roasted; the guys at Belleville were some of the friendliest that I met in Paris.

 

Serving espresso roasting by Belleville Brûlerie, Steel Cyclewear & Coffee Shop is a cycling clothing and coffee bar retailer located a few blocks from the Canal Saint-Martin. Serving espressos, juices, small bites, and high end cyclewear; the space is one of its kind in Paris. Chatting with the English barista working, Samson, about the coffee community in Paris, he quickly named off a list of the great cafes in Paris and the people who managed them(lamenting that a majority of them were English). Funny and quick-witted; the guys at Steel are awesome & hilarious people. Even if you’re not into cycling, this is a place to drop by.

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A quick note on a Parisian/European trend that the United States need to adopt: orange juice squeezers. Manual, Electronic, hand-cranked; I don’t care. You can’t throw a rock in Paris without hitting a citrus juicer, and it's CHEAP. Going to one of the various grocery store in Paris you will see a giant orange electric juice squeezer with .25l, .5l, and 1l bottles allowing you to squeeze your own fresh juice into however much you would like. No cafe I went into didn’t squeeze their own juice. From the small creperie to the fancy cafes; they all had freshly squeezed orange juice. There is one cafe I know who does serve orange juice freshly squeezed in the US but it's $8 for 8oz, which is ridiculous. Fix this ya’ll.

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Paris is a beautiful city and I feel in love with it. It is the baseline to which i want to compare every other city I visit; which is a very stupid thing to do. Seeing the partying that goes on in the evening and waking up to see the majority of it swept away and cleaned is remarkable. Just walking the streets is breathtaking. Smelling the pastries being baked or walking into a random fromagerie and discovering a very cheese or walking along the canal to see couples passed out, making out, drinking and eating all in a small area; its magical.

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Tips for Paris-

Wake up early(5-6am-as the Sun is rising) and take a very long walk.

 

- In one morning I walked from Notre Dame to the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower(picking up a fresh baguette and a croissant)and back. It took about 3 hours but it is one of the best experiences I have ever done. You get to see the city wake up, the trash get cleaned, the food getting prepared, the-ah, look at me. I’m rambling again.

 

Pick a neighborhood, mark all the cafes, destinations, metro, and all.

 

-This goes for any city, but in Paris where the neighborhoods are very large you may want to do a little more planning

 

You can get anywhere on the metro

 

-Don’t pay for a weeklong ticket. Paying each way will be cheaper in the long term and since you’ll probably be walking most places, it's unnecessary to pay a larger price.

PRO METRO TIP-follow colors, the end destination, and know your station. Or just use your phone

 

Most museums have a free day

 

-The free day changes but this goes for most cities. Friday the Louvre was free. Most Cathedrals are free to go into yet you usually have to pay around 5euro to go into the towers


 

I could list so many other tip so if you have any questions or are planning on traveling to anywhere, let me know! I love planning -> dillonbwilliams@aol.com

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I AM LEAVING TOMORROW(today?). WHAT

The whole thought of me originated October of 2016 when I was sitting at Rockefeller Center in New York City eating a TKO(Thomas Keller Oreo) from Bouchon Bakery. I had been to Budin(a Scandinavian focused cafe in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint) and was intrigued by the thought of them and a few others in New York as the only that serve some European roasters.

I understand, being local is cool. It's the kale, the avocado toast, the bees knees, in today's society and culture; yet at the same time so is globalization. We live in such a small world(especially in specialty coffee) that even I, being as socially awkward and weird, am friends with people who live on the opposite side of the country. This is INSANE. It is mind boggling that I can reach out to someone across the world and share a story or a conversation. That is why it is also CRAZY that more cafes in the United States don't serve international coffee; and vice versa. 

Tomorrow I fly back to New York. I will go to Budin(THEY HAVE TALOR&JORGAN'S COFFEES RIGHT NOW), I will get a TKO, and I will go to Rockefeller Center. Because I am a pathetic Romantic who loves that type of stuff. 

IN OTHER NEWS

The bike is packed, the bags are ready, and my flights are books. My beautiful little bike weighs in at 55lb in the box and it has to travel through 3 cities, 3 flights, and 2 houses before I can reassemble it back up. Pray that no one destroys it in transit. 

 

Stay tuned for New York next.  

The First Step in a Long Journey

 

Hey guys! 

I am not a very technologically advanced person(buying a domain was a very challenging thing for me) so doing this took some effort. 

I will be starting my bicycle trek across Europe at the Budapest World of Coffee in June, 2017. From there I hope to cross the Austrian Alps(without falling off a cliff) and into Italy. I am trying not to plan too far ahead but I will update as soon as things are set in stone!

This is going to be my ongoing documentation on where I am, where I'm going, who I'm meeting, and the coffee I'm drinking. My coffee community in Charlotte, North Carolina has been a community of growth. In the year and a half that I have been involved in it, I have grown so much better as a person not to mention as well as a coffee professional. It isn't as much due to the coffee but because of the people. 

The unification of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe will bring many things to the specialty coffee industry; transparency, sustainability, a wider spread of education, and unity. Unity being what brings us all together as people; as human beings who share a similar interest in the product we create and the people we serve. 

Homecoming is my reflection on communities in coffee; the people in it, the coffee being served, and the people drinking it. The connection that people share when serving coffee is unlike any others. Coffee is warm and inviting. It is a small gesture of kindness and compassion. Coffee crosses boundaries and borders making it possibly for all types of people to sit down together and enjoy. Coffee shows no discrimination; it just brings us closer. 

With all the hate and disunity floating around the world currently, I want to highlight the people who make their communities what they are. The people that bring it together and serve others unconditionally. The people who brew, roast, and serve coffee not because they are just passionate about coffee but because they are passionate about the people in coffee. These are the people that make the coffee industry a community that I am proud to be apart of. 

Thank you for reading & stay tuned for more!

best

-Dillon

p.s - I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule so if you would like to meet up, get a coffee, or go ride bikes you can email me or slide into my DMs at -

homecomingcoffeetour@gmail.com.

@homecomingcoffeetour

I hope to hear from you soon!