Goodnight Vienna

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.

Wiener schnitzel all round.
Wiener schnitzel all round.

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!

 

Oh Vienna – 2

Photo page updated and just to prove that we have made it:-

Made it!
Made it!
Made it!
Made it!

The campsite in Tulln was up there with the best we have stayed at but with the two doctors arriving in Vienna later today it was time to be on our way. Another glorious morning promised a hot afternoon and an easterly wind blowing in our faces slowed us down but it was only about 39 km today with no hills so we knocked off the ride in short order before lunch.  Only to find that we  couldn’t get into the hotel room until 3 o’clock.

On the way we stopped for a drink at a cafe offering an invigorating drink for cyclists.

We have steered clear of this!
We have steered clear of this!

(For those who don’t know, EPO is the drug of choice for Lance Armstrong and other cheating cyclists.)

The Wachau

Continuing with the policy of stating as early as possible (the main requirement for which is for Christine, never a morning person, to get up and going), we set off before 8. On our way through Melk we couldn’t find a baker that was open which we thought was a little odd. Later we found that we had made a rookie error in not knowing that it was a public holiday in Austria.

The road out of Melk came as a nasty shock. It was uphill! And a steep one at that.  We climbed 55 metres in 2 km. Compare that to the figures for the previous two days! It did nothing to improve Christine’s humour.

We soon met Dave coming the other way. He was on the last leg of a 20 month trip around the world including crossing China in the middle of winter. He said it was mighty cold!

By now we were in the heart of the Wachau with vines and apricot plants everywhere. The route was either alongside a busy road or, more often on quiet roads that led through pretty little villages that had been bypassed by the main road. This meant that there was more climbing to be done but thankfully nothing like the one at the start of the day.

The guidebook said the Wachau is often regarded as the real highlight of the trip from Passau to Vienna. We would agree that it is certainly pretty but we preferred the less civilised and quieter sections through the Strudengau and the other gorge.

Most of the villages seemed to be celebrating which involved throwing hay all over the road and lining the sides of the road with cut off branches while everyone wore traditional dress.

We arrived at our destination in Krems around two o’clock and then decided to go our separate ways for the afternoon.  Christine wanted to explore the town while Stephen decided that he hadn’t done enough cycling (and also wanted to get more of a recharge into his phone).  Leaving the luggage behind at the campsite it was bliss to ride an unladen bike and it was just as well as this was where he was planning to go.

Göttweig Abbey
Göttweig Abbey

This is Göttweig Abbey and is about 200 metres above the river.  By the time he got there he was ready for a cold beer!

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The view from the top.

The view from the top.
The view from the top.

It was fun going down needless to say!

Friday saw us crossing the river to the southern bank where it stays all the way to Vienna. All the way from Passau we had been seeing groups of cyclists with the same bikes or panniers – obviously on organised tours. These tours are generally self-guided but your luggage is moved each day so you only have to carry the few things you need during the day. Some might call this cheating but when you are lugging 30 kg around on your bike we can see the attraction! Christine got talking to a small group of 4 such cyclists (Pat, Maureen, Stuart, and John). It turned out that the men are experienced long distance cyclists themselves having ridden from Istanbul to the UK and across the USA.

Tulln, where we were to spend the night, soon appeared but not before we passed a farmhouse where Christine remembered that we had stayed with the children 15 years ago.

Cycling Heaven!

And we thought the Danube in Germany was pretty! The first section in Austria is even better and the cycling is all anyone could want.

Friday night’s forecast thunderstorms passed by in the distance thank goodness although we did get some rain.  But Saturday morning saw the return of blue skies and so the sun cream was called into action. We quickly passed through Passau and very shortly were crossing the border on the southern bank of the river.

We cycled this stretch of the river to Vienna with the children in 2000 as the first holiday without the car (have we told you this already? Sorry for repeating ourselves!)  We had very fond memories of the hotel in which we spent the first night out of Passau and planned to stay there again.  The only problem was that we couldn’t remember the name or where it was – just that it was on a sharp bend of the river on the south side and somewhere between 30 and 50 km away!

To start off with the route was on a separate path beside a busy road but the two soon parted and peace and quiet was restored.  We could see black clouds building up behind us so decided to have an early lunch in the dry.  Too late! Part way through the first sandwich the first spots appeared and so it was on with the raincoats and off we went. Thankfully it was only a brief shower and we were soon able to finish lunch.

To be sure of finding the hotel we stayed on the southern bank ignoring the solitary bridge and the five ferries (only one of which takes cars!) we passed. This meant that we were on the road for a stretch which was not particularly pleasant as it was busy and undulating.  We looked enviously at the main cycle route on the other bank which looked to be flat, right by the river and traffic free.  On reflection we decided that we must have taken that route 15 years ago – not least because the children (including the two large ones) would have enjoyed the ferry rides!

Coming to Schlögen, the river “convulses” in a meander turning through 180 degrees. At this point the road decides that it will climb the hill out of the valley and the main cycle route crosses to the southern bank via another ferry.  We were back on track! And the next part was just heavenly! Words cannot do it justice.

Passing through a cluster of two or three houses we turned a corner and there it was! The hotel was just as we remembered it! As we stopped so did a family of four and so Stephen rushed in to ask if there was room at the inn.  “Yes” and only €25 per person including breakfast.

Waking the next morning to this view

The view from our room in Inzell.
The view from our room in Inzell.

and to a beautiful blue sky was simply glorious. In some ways we didn’t want to leave but we knew there was some lovely cycling to be done. The route was just as wonderful as the previous afternoon – right up there with the best days’ cycling we have ever had. The gorge Co tinted fir another 15 km to Aschach where the landscape opened out a little and there was a pretty town with many cafes and ice cream parlours lining the cycle path. We decided it would be rude not to stop!

The route continued through more gentle countryside to Ottensheim where we took our first ferry since the Channel. It then became less pleasant as, while still a separate path from the traffic it was beside a very busy road with incessant vehicle noise. The alternative on the opposite bank was no more appealing -the road looked less busy but there was no segregation

This took us into the city of Linz where thankfully the cycle path left the road for the river bank and took us to the campsite near a lake well patronised by the locals on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

With time to spare before meeting Alaric and Annabelle in 6 days (and also because the campsite is a very reasonable €13 per night with free WiFi provided by the god burghers of Linz! ) we decided to have another rest day to see what the city had to offer. To be perfectly frank it is not a huge amount.  That’s not to say it is dreadful but there isn’t a lot to see. Still it was relaxing and we came to the campsite for an afternoon of reading which has was very pleasant.