The Donau Radweg is generally divided into legs as follows: 1 = Germany (Donaueschingen to Passau), 2 = Austria (Passau to Wien), 3 = Slovakia/Hungary (Vienna to Budapest). This post is delayed as is explained below, but we have now completed leg 2 having arrived in Wien this afternoon, after our longest single-day ride to date of 84 km (total mileage to date = 948 km).
We arrived in Passau one day after the last post which was also the last nice day of weather until yesterday. Basically, all of Europe was affected by the terrible storms that centred over the UK & Baltic area, so our journey through Austria was socked in clouds & continuous rain for the first 2 days (through the “scenic” Danube loop), and has been mixed overcast, windy, with a few sunny breaks until yesterday when the sun returned as we enjoyed the Wachau wine region. Our ride today was dry but with a black storm cloud forming over us and generally following us to Vienna. We stopped on the Donau island just before the bridge that takes you into the city centre, when that cloud let loose like a squall that came in sideways. We held out a while under that same bridge before wending our way through the city to the hostel we’re staying at.
The first day out of Passau, we took a boat to a little village – Engelhartszell – where we stayed in a 400 year old pension that felt like a cabin in BC. Having secured some beer from Austria’s only Trappist Monastery (a new income source since 2012), we watched the rain fall & the clouds settle into the hillside outside over drinks and card games. We learned the next day that we were staying in what used to be the Farrier’s building from when boats were pulled up and down the river by horses. Day 2 was just as wet and we decided once again to take the boat to Linz – probably the right decision seeing as we seemed to be joined by most other cyclists. We resumed cycling from Linz, seeing Grein, Melk Abbey (world heritage site), adorable Baroque towns through the Wachau wine region including Krems, and even had wine glasses thrust in our hands at the tourist info office in Traismauer last night so that we could go into a sold-out wine tasting event being held next door. Trying to mingle into the Austrian wine event in our bike clothes was interesting, and delayed us getting to our guesthouse a bit, incurring the wrath of the matronly host. We have ridden on paved pathways, gravel, dirt, single-track forest tracks, levees, highways, dams, cobblestone both large & small, construction sites, etc, etc.
Now to explain the delayed posting……there is a big myth out there about the wonders of technology in this digital age. While we have appreciated having the tablet, we are now completely reliant on available & functioning wi-fi – and the reality is that this is not everywhere! In fact, it is quite rare to find outside of major centres & certainly not in the pensions and guesthouses where we stay. Stuart tends to troll through village streets to see if he can pick up a signal from a bar or coffeeshop. Sometimes that how we choose where to eat or get a drink. We got a cellular SIM card in Germany but you need to get a new SIM card for each country – there are no cross-border prepaid SIMs. And you can only do this in a shop in a larger centre which you need to be at during business hours & everything is closed mid-day, half of Saturdays & all of Sundays. As we are leaving Austria in a few days, we will continue to rely on available wi-fi.
Next post will be on Vienna/Wien….