The heatwave from last week seems to have eased and we woke this morning to cloudy skies – a very welcome relief! The weather now is actually perfect for cycling. The severe wind which wore us out yesterday has disappeared and there’s no sign of rain either. Lucky us since we read news of severe floods in southern Germany and England today. A few hundred kilometers further west and we might have been trying to cycle on washed out roads. Floods have been in our thoughts quite a bit lately as we pass high water marks along the Danube. In 2002, the river burst its banks twice and the August floods left houses almost entirely underwater. Little signs attached well above the doors of many homes drive home to us just how fierce this otherwise tranquil and peaceful body of water can be. We arrived in the city of Linz around midday, after spending the morning passing largely through farming communities. Linz immediately drew us in with its refined squares, pedestrian areas and numerous colourful and ornate churches. (more…)
You Are Viewing Austria
One of the changes we’ve noticed in our bodies over the past year of cycling is that our sweet cravings have gone through the roof. Chocolate, dried fruit, cookies, ice cream. Before our trip we rarely indulged in these things but now we’re certainly working off the calories and we usually have at least one treat a day. Today our fixation was on cake. We dreamt of all kinds of cake as we biked along the Danube. Cherry cake, brownies, donuts. If only Austria had a Tim Hortons! Andrew decided he would have two maple glazed donuts with a large double double and Friedel wanted a large coffee with milk and a box of Timbits. Tim Hortons… are you listening? One express parcel to our tent please! With no donut shops on our path we settled instead on a local pub, which had a coffee and cake special advertised on their blackboard. It wasn’t Tim Hortons but it was a pretty good Sunday treat: peach cake dusted with icing sugar and a steaming hot black coffee. Not far up the road we found the perfect corn field to plant our tent behind. The cycle trail has plenty of campsites along its length but equally lots of quiet spots and with camping prices at summer highs we’re taking advantage of all the green space to try and bring our budget back under control. We’d hoped to average €25 a day across Europe but after curling in Italy and buying things like new shoes and tyres we’re now hovering around €30 a day. Still not bad for two people travelling in very developed countries but we think we can manage a few weeks on the cheap to bring the average back down again.
The heavy metal concert from last night died down before long and we fell asleep soon after the screaming sounds stopped drifting across the river. We were glad when the band stopped since their music wasn’t exactly as soothing as the famous Danube Waltz. With another good night’s sleep we dragged ourselves out of bed early again and pedalled further west towards Germany. We feel a bit out of place, just as we did when we traced part of the Santiago pilgrims route in Spain and everyone was going the other direction. Dozens of cyclists seem to be heading for Vienna, not away from it, and even the wind is conspiring against us in heading east. Even with the headwind though we made good time. The trail is very flat and with no traffic to distract us we really fly along. If it wasn’t so hot we’d probably easily do 100km a day but at the moment we’re choosing to more or less stop at lunchtime. Today we’d hoped to set up our tent in the town of Krems, to explore its beautiful historic centre, but as soon as we saw the campsite we knew we’d move on. It had no shade. In fact, it was just a brown field, crowded with tents, and the price they were asking was too much for too little. Instead we moved on just down the river to the village of Rossatz where we found a campsite with apple and pear trees and a lovely view of the river as well as a sky-blue church spire on the other side. Much prettier and cheaper too
Now they tell us! We discovered the reason why we’ve been having such trouble cycling lately and feeling so low. We have been cycling in a record-breaking heatwave. It sounds silly not to have known this, but for the days we spent in Hungary and Slovakia, until we crossed into Austria, we didn’t understand anything on the local news. We knew it was hot but just assumed the temperatures were normal for summer. Not so! According to the radio today was one of the hottest ever in Austria, with temperatures soaring to 40°C. Thank goodness we got an early start. We felt much better as we got on the road today. A good night’s sleep put everything right and we resolved to get up extra early to try and beat the heat. It wasn’t long after 5am when we rolled out of our tent, hitting the road only after drinking a strong cup of coffee! Not long down the Danube cycle path, we met another long-distance touring cyclist. Daniel was just returning to his hometown of Munich after biking all the way to Romania and Bulgaria, then by bus to Istanbul and back on his bike again for the trip home to Germany. We hit it off and he kindly offered us a place to stay when we arrive in Munich. He also warned us off touring in Romania. We weren’t particularly thinking of going there anyway, but his tales of being attacked by apple-throwing locals, the constant threat of wild dogs and watching horses being beaten by their owners have made us cross it permanently off our list. We split up just before Vienna, leaving Daniel to make some progress on his ride home, while we dawdled along the cycle path. We were somewhat put off by the path in Slovakia but the scenery, signs and condition of the trail have improved incredibly since then and we can see why it is so popular. In the afternoon we relaxed by the Danube’s banks and even went for a little swim before finding a spot near the trail to put our tent. We thought we were in for a quiet evening but it turns out a heavy metal concert has just started across the river. Perhaps a night of Metallica classics is in store for us!