The peace of an afternoon’s reading was shattered by the arrival of about 20 Polish schoolkids with 3 teachers, all on bikes. We exchanged nervous glances with other campers anticipating a noisy time ahead. Thankfully, after a few games in the early evening, they were very well behaved – or at least quiet enough not to disturb our slumbers!
Tuesday started off quite overcast but the sun soon burned the clouds off and the heat built up to around 30°. The south bank out of Linz was obviously the industrial area of the city while the north bank which we were using was much more pleasant with woods and meadows around the dyke.
Crossing over the river at a dam, we were soon heading towards Enns (the factories and chemical plants having been left behind) before switching back to the north bank on a small ferry operated by the town of Mauthausen, which had an old WW2 concentration camp not far away.
We sped along helped by a tailwind and reached a large area that was protected from floods by a tall dyke. The road breached the walls of the dyke in a number of places which seemed a bit of a flaw in the plans to keep the waters out until we realised that there were gates/doors retracted into the dyke which could be called into action when needed. They’ve obviously thought this through!
The hills on either side started to close in again as we approached the Strudengau, a gorge feared by sailors in the past because of a number of whirlpools that formed about half way along. We could see no sign of the danger when we passed that section the next morning. Perhaps some more clever engineering has solved that issue too.
We spent the night in the pretty little village of Grein in the centre of the Strudengau at a campsite overlooked by the impressive Greinburg castle.
We didn’t hurry the next morning and so, by the time we had wheeled the bikes the 50 metres from the campsite to the ferry, a queue of about 15 bikes had formed. As the capacity of the boat was about a dozen bikes and riders we had to wait the 20 or so minutes for the next crossing. This was not a chore in such beautiful surroundings!
Looking up from the boat, once we had embarked, we could see that the queue had grown even longer. Obviously the ferry business is a good one to be in in Grein although it must be very seasonal as there are unlikely to be many “radfährer” in the winter months!
Cycling through the Strudengau was just as wonderful as the previous gorge on the Austrian section – if not better. The Danube from Passau to Vienna really is a great place to try cycle touring for the first time – in the last two days the Garmin says that we have ascended a total of 74 metres (mostly onto the dykes) and descended 80 metres! It really is super easy as evidenced by the number of older, “larger” Germans keeping us company! And we are nor persuaded that even they need the assistance of the motor in the E-bikes which many of them are riding!
As we approached Ybbs the hills receded a little, this being the start of the Wachau region which is renowned for its beauty and its wines. A bike museum was heavily promoted on the way into the village so Stephen spent 10 minutes looking at boneshakers and penny farthings while Christine caught up on her reading outside.
With the valley opening up a little there was less shade from the sun beating down from a cloudless sky and Christine in particular began to wilt a little so we were pleased when the campsite in Melk came into view -complete with Polish schoolkids!