We had a lovely time in Vienna with the two doctors (son Alaric and his girlfriend Annabelle) and stayed a day longer than we originally intended (so 2 days and 3 nights) because we were enjoying the break so much.
We did some sightseeing although the weather did restrict that somewhat as the temperature was up around 30° which made standing around looking at architectural gems not something to be done for too long. The extra day also gave us the opportunity to do some bike and camping shopping (spare spokes, a new groundsheet and new saucepans).
However, there were pedals to be pushed so we set off this morning (Tuesday) heading for Bratislava and our sixth country of Slovakia. The route out of Vienna was very pleasant with a long stretch through the woods of the Prater and then onto the dyke through the floodplain that has been made into a National Park (Although between the two there was an oil refinery belonging to OMV (an Intertek customer by the way!) to be circumvented.)
The contrast with the cycle path before Vienna could not have been more marked. Now there were hardly any other cyclists around and everything was so peaceful. There was also a strong tailwind which helped us make rapid progress and kept things a little cooler.
After about 40 km on the north bank we crossed a major bridge and were soon in Hainburg, once a strategic point along the Danube that helped protect Vienna. It is also the last major town in Austria and we were soon approaching the border alongside a busy road.
How things have changed in Europe in recent years. Thirty years ago we would have been crossing the Iron Curtain into Czechoslovakia with border posts manned by armed guards (probably Russian). Now the cars just speed through without slowing. However, these two mad English cyclists halted to take photographs of each other posing under the sign saying “Slovensko”!
The contrast between the two sides of the border was marked – the Austrian side was just a road with no buildings or anything while immediately across the border there were shops and restaurants even though it was about to become a motorway.
Fortunately we did not have to use the motorway as the cycle path veered away back towards the river. Then a short trip through a wooded area saw us reach a bridge where we could cross to the main part of the city. We are spending tomorrow in Bratislava as neither of us have been here before and we have read that it is pretty. We’ll tell you what it’s like next time!