Austria – Part II

(English at the bottom)

Photo gallery

… Da wir beide Salzburg bereits kannten, hielten wir nur zum Mittagessen und Kaffee Trinken an. Anschliessend aus Salzburg hinauszuradeln, bedeutete auch, die Alpen- und Bergwelt hinter uns zu lassen. Es blieb zwar kalt und noch weitere zwei Tage sehr hügelig, doch Pässe gab es keine mehr zu bewältigen und Schneeflächen bekamen wir immer weniger zu Gesicht.

Nach Salzburg radelten wir zum Fuschl- und anschliessend zum Wolfgangsee im Salzkammergut (17. März) und von dort via Bad Ischl (Sissi’s Kurort) dem Fluss Traun und dem Traunsee entlang (18. März).  Die verschiedenen Seen erinnerten mich stark an Landschaften in schottischen Hochland (z.B. Loch Ness) und wie immer bestaunten wir die Vielzahl an Schlössern, Kirchen und Burgen sowie die hübschen Städtchen wie etwa Gmunden.

Castle and Palace spotting in Salzburg

Castle and Palace spotting in Salzburg

Hohensalzburg Fortress above Salzburg

Hohensalzburg Fortress above Salzburg

Waiting for the next customer

Waiting for the next customer

Finally warming the toes in front of our authentic electric fireplace

Finally warming the toes in front of our authentic electric fireplace

A path for bikes, bow-legged girls in short skirts and gentlemen wearing dapper hats

A path for bikes, bow-legged girls in short skirts and gentlemen wearing dapper hats

The mountains in the Salzkammergut near Wolfgangsee (Lake Wolfgang)

The mountains in the Salzkammergut near Wolfgangsee (Lake Wolfgang)

Along the Riviera in Bad Ischl

Along the Riviera in Bad Ischl

Luckily we left the horse and cart at home on the farm

Luckily we left the horse and cart at home on the farm

Looking back towards the mountains on Lake Traun (Traunsee)

Looking back towards the mountains on Lake Traun (Traunsee)

Sometimes it's good to use some other muscles

Sometimes it’s good to use some other muscles

Towers in Linz

Towers in Linz

The mighty Danube at sunset in Linz

The mighty Danube at sunset in Linz

Cathedral in Linz

Cathedral in Linz

Leaving Linz towards Vienna (Wien) along the Danube Bike path.

Leaving Linz towards Vienna (Wien) along the Danube Bike path.

Who said industrial areas are ugly?!?

Who said industrial areas are ugly?!?

Riding through the mystically foggy morning

Riding through the mystically foggy morning

Lunchtime over the Danube from Ybbs

Lunchtime over the Danube from Ybbs

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey

Sunset on the Danube

Sunset on the Danube

1000km down, only a few thousand more to go...

1000km down, only a few thousand more to go…

Alvin, Simon or Theodore?

Alvin, Simon or Theodore?

Tulln on the Danube

Tulln on the Danube

The Austrians are well organised - bike tube vending machine anyone?

The Austrians are well organised – bike tube vending machine anyone?

St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna

St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna

Tourists attempting the famous Wiener Schnitzel from Figlmüller in Vienna

Tourists attempting the famous Wiener Schnitzel from Figlmüller in Vienna

Für den 19. März hatten wir nur 40 Kilometer eingeplant, da wir am Mittag in Linz ankommen und uns anschliessend das Städtchen anschauen wollten. Allerdings machten uns Schneeregen, Hagel, ein starker und kalter Gegenwind, Pauls zweiter (!) Platten und eine zweistündige Irrfahrt durch die Vororte von Linz einen Strich durch die Rechnung, so dass wir unsere Pension erst gegen Abend frierend und durchnässt erreichten. Es blieb uns gerade noch genug Zeit, paar nötige Einkäufe zu erledigen, durch das hübsche Stadtzentrum zu schlendern und den Dom, die grösste Kirche Österreichs, mit seinen eindrücklichen Gemäldefenstern zu bewundern. Linz ist sicherlich ein Besuch wert.

Am nächsten Tag (20. März) starteten wir unsere Reise der Donau entlang, welcher wir wohl bis nach Bulgarien folgen werden. Die Vorzüge des Donauradwegs sind, dass wir fortan schneller voran kommen, da wir kaum noch Höhen zu bewältigen haben und aufgrund der perfekten Beschilderung kaum vom Weg abkommen können. Die noch winterliche Stimmung dem Fluss entlang ist im morgendlichen Nebel und im Abendlicht beinahe mystisch. Auch geniessen wir es, weit und breit die einzigen Radfahrenden zu sein, da zu dieser Jahreszeit noch kaum jemand dem Donauradweg entlang fährt. Die ganze Landschaft wird aber sicherlich noch eindrücklicher sein, sobald die Bäume wieder grüne Blätter tragen und auf den fruchbaren Feldern, die zurzeit noch braun sind, wieder etwas wächst. Dank der einfachen Route kamen wir am 20. März trotz etwas Gegenwind schnell voran und legten 136 Kilometer zurück, was weit über unserem Durchschnitt von täglich ca. 80 Kilometern liegt. Zum ersten Mal auf unserer Reise genossen wir zum Mittag ein Piknik draussen in der Sonne ohne zu frieren. Besonders eindrücklich an diesem Tag waren das Städtchen Melk mit seinem pompösen Benediktinerkoster und unser Znacht in einem kleinen Städtchen in der Weinregion Wachau bei einem Bauern / Winzer, der uns herrlichste Käste- und Schinkensorten sowie geräucherte Forellen und Marillenschnaps auftischte; ein unvergessliches Abendessen!

Am 21. März spürten wir dann doch die am Vortag 136 und die seit Wichtrach 1000 zurückgelegten Kilometer in den Beinen und waren froh, der ebenen (und etwas eintönigen) Fahrradroute der Donau entlang fahren zu können und von einem starken Westwind getragen zu werden.  So legten wir mühelos weitere 106 Kilometer zurück und erreichten gegen den frühen Abend Wien, wo wir bei Marco und Angela, zwei Radfahrende, auf die wir via www.warmshowers.org gestossen sind, übernachten konnten. Marco hatte sogar eine wunderbare Lasagne für uns gekocht und führte uns später auf paar österreichische Biere aus.

Am Freitag (22. März) gönnten wir uns nach 7 Velotagen einen Ruhetag in Wien. Die wichtigsten Sehenswürdigkeiten kannten wir bereits, so dass wir hautpsächlich Kaffee tranken, mit unseren lieben Gastgeberin Angela im Leopold frühstückten (super Tip!), durch die Strassen schlenderten und dann wieder Kaffe tranken… Wir sind beide müde von den vergangenen Reisetagen und genossen es umso mehr, unsere Beine auszuruhen und bei Marco und Angela ein zu Hause zu haben.

Am nächsten Tag (23. März) verwöhnten uns die beiden noch mal mit Kaffee und einem stärkenden Fühstück und wir verliessen Wien Richtung Bratislava. Vielen, vielen Dank euch beiden für die spontane und warmherzige Gastfreundschaft, wir sehen uns spätestens in zwei Jahren im Berner Oberland zum Skifahren…

Wir sind nun seit zwei Wochen unterwegs, doch haben wir schon viel mehr erlebt, als überhaupt in eine so kurze Zeit zu passen scheint. Gestern Abend sind wir in der Slovakei angekommen und werden die nächsten zwei Tage in einer günstigen Jugendherberge in Bratislava verbringen. Anschliessend fahren wir weiter nach Budapest, eine Stadt, die ich schon immer besuchen wollte. Ich freue mich auf die Weiterreise und auf Osteuropa und auf einen baldigen Frühlingsbeginn!

Austria – Part II

Since we had both visited Salzburg before, we decided that lunch (Sunday 17th March) and a quick spin around the old town would be enough to satisfy our tourist hunger. Lunch on the Old Market Square (finally warm enough to eat outside – just!!) was thoroughly enjoyed and in the afternoon headed off towards the Salzkammergut.  Although we could leave the mountains behind, the landscape stayed very hilly, and the punishment on the legs continued.

From Salzburg we headed to Fuschl where we stayed the night, then spent the next day (Monday 18th March) cycling along one lake after another, Wolfgang then Traun Lake, passing through Bad Ischl and Gmunden (all very lovely towns – the Austrians were certainly very motivated castle and church builders) before finding a hotel late in a wet and cold Lambach, following some help from some overzealous Austrians, who were extremely worried that we could never possibly find accommodation nearby (a quick trip for Paul without bike around town in a spanking new black Mercedes with an Austrian couple speaking a ridiculously strong dialect while Nina waited outside the town supermarket with our bikes soon confirmed the obvious – that there was in fact a room to be had).

Another typical Austrian breakfast of delicious bread rolls, ham, butter, apricot jam combined with tasteless lifeless cheese slices all to be washed down with coffee and OJ and we were on our way on Tuesday (19th March) towards Linz.  With what we thought was a short trip of 40km, we were looking forward to arriving in time for lunch so that we had a chance to look around the town.  60km later and having been battered by freezing temperatures and gusty headwinds, Paul’s second flat tire, sent every which way by confusing bike path signs and even more confused Linz pedestrians, we finally made it into Linz late in the afternoon.  A warm shower was necessary to wash away all of the mud before heading into town to look around.  Like so many Austrian towns along the Danube, the former wealth of the place is evidently visible, demonstrated in the magnificent pompous buildings and sky-reaching churches.  The stain-glassed windows in the Linz Cathedral, the largest in Austria, were really something to behold.  Just as the sun was setting, the sun reappeared and we were treated to spectacular views along the Danube in the evening light.  The evening was spent organising a place to stay in Vienna in the coming days.

Knowing that Vienna isn’t the cheapest place in town, and attempting to get some control back over our budget, it was decided that the time had come to implement Operation Warmshowers (comparable to Couchsurfing but for bike-touring) and find someone’s floor to sleep on.  Only once Nina had organised something for in 2 days time, did we consult Nina’s route plan and realise that Vienna was actually 3 days ride away and not 2.  It was then decided that due to the relatively flat route our normal plan of 80km per day would be scrapped, and a new benchmark would have to be set in order to cover the 240km to Vienna from Linz.

An early start was necessary on Wed (20th March) morning, and we were on our way just before 7:30am.  Although very chilly, the sunny misty morning riding along the Danube was very peaceful and almost mystical and we already had 85km under our belt when we decided at 1pm to stop for lunch on the riverbank opposite Ybbs for lunch.  It was the first time that we could enjoy a picnic outside and feel some form of warmth from the sun.  Refreshed and renourished the pedalling continued for another 2 hours until Melk, where we stopped for an afternoon coffee break and a look around the old town and impressive Melk Abbey (one of the world’s most famous baroque Benedictine monasteries).  With sunset approaching the journey continued until the darkness engulfed us and our legs were finally spent – 136km later (a new record for us).  In a tiny village rimmed with vineyards and apricot (Marille) trees lying along the Danube, we found a bed in a small guesthouse and enjoyed a memorable dinner in a neighbouring farmhouse/restaurant of delicious smoked trout and typical Austrian cheeses and meats, all washed down with local wine and apricot schnapps – perfect after such a long day.

With no time for a sleep in on Thursday (21st March) morning we on our way again early and with the Danube as our companion to the left, we set course towards Vienna, about 100km away.  We hit the 1000km mark of our journey almost first thing in the morning, which required a short stop for a photo shoot.  A friendly west wind from then on helped us along (although the cold decided to reappear) and even with heavy legs from the day before we could quite happily cruise along at around 20kph.

A pizza for lunch in from the cold in Tulln gave us the strength to get to Vienna just after 4pm.  Along the way, similar as from Linz, we passed fertile fields awaiting the coming (we hope at least) spring, towns ringed in by retaining walls to protect them from flooding and spent most of time riding along the top of the levy bank designed to keep a flooded threatening Danube at bay.  Picturesque villages, elegant churches and crumbling fortresses and castles atop craggy peaks accompanied us throughout the rest of the day.

Precise informative directions from Marco (our incredibly friendly www.warmshowers.org host,along with his girlfriend Angela) meant we arrived at our place of residence in the middle of Vienna for the next 2 nights without any problem.  Nina had contacted Marco when we were in Linz, and it was great to have a place to stay, but for us even more exciting to get to meet some other avid bike tourers to swap stories and ideas and have someone to show us around Vienna.  Marco had lasagna baking in the oven when we arrived (which definitely kicked my saliva glands into action) and after a fantastic dinner we whipped over to a nearby bar to sample a few Austrian wheat biers.

Smashed it without a sweat!!

Smashed it without a sweat!!

Our day off had finally arrived – woohoo!!  Friday (22nd March) involved sleeping in, meeting our other wonderful host, Angela (who had had night shift the evening prior), and then going for a scrumptious brunch with her to the Leopold Museum.  Having also both visited Vienna in the past, all that followed was us wandering aimlessly through the impressive boulevards of Vienna surrounded by one pompous tiered cake building after another and drinking coffee (a typical Viennese pastime).

No trip to Vienna would be complete without a Wiener schnitzel, so we ticked that box by heading to the king of the schnitzel, Figlmüller Restaurant, and hungrily devouring a plate-sized golden crispy juicy exemplar of expertly flattened Swine.

Saturday (23rd March) meant bike riding again, and following a hearty breakfast, we said goodbye to our generous, somewhat jealous (jealous that we were the ones heading off on our bikes and not them) hosts, Marco and Angela, and headed towards the Austrian-Slovakian border.  Thank you both so much for the great time in Vienna, and hopefully we’ll see you again some time on the Swiss ski slopes in the future – it’s only about 1000km by bike.

St. Stephen's Cathedral at night

St. Stephen’s Cathedral at night

Thanks again guys

Thanks again guys

Our warmshowers.org hosts, Marco and Angela

Our warmshowers.org hosts, Marco and Angela

It’s now just over 2 weeks since we left Wichtrach, and it’s hard to fathom that we could have experienced so much in such a short time period – I mean, everyone goes on holidays for 2 weeks from time to time.  Everything that we seen and done, and every friendly person that we’ve met along the way just makes us more excited about the time to come.  The journey now continues into Slovaki towards Bratislava and then furth east.  Stay tuned…

9 thoughts on “Austria – Part II

  1. Hey!
    It was a pleasure to host and meet you two!! Have a safe, adventurous and great time on the road! All the best, Marco & Angela

  2. Hello to you both. We just your read blog this afternoon and it gave us the inspiration to keep on pedalling. Thanks again for being such great hosts and see you some time in Switzerland!

  3. Hi guys, Your trip so far sounds amazing & very jealous reading the updates. Not a keen -10 degrees rider, but still ahead of a good day at the office !! Look forward to the next exicting episode. Safe travels & wishing you puncture free, downhill riding on warm, sunny days…. Regards David, Janette, Tahia & Marcus PS Is this the best way to send messages ?

    • Hey McPherson Family,

      Good to hear you’re reading the blog – what a waste of time it would be otherwise. The best way to contact us is definitely via the blog, if that changes I’ll let u know. David, you’ve still got 9 months to train the legs before we hit SE Asia (def no -10° there) – we’re already looking forward to the riding companion 🙂

      • Yes, I hear you and very keen. If not Asia, maybe Tas in Feb ? Cheers D

  4. When I taught 8 (whatever it was) English,in whatever year it was, if I had have been asked to rank the class in terms of ‘who is likely to undertake an unbelievably adventurous, serendipitous and inspirational ride around the world?’, I must admit that you could have got good odds on Paul McLeish. How wrong I was – and LOVING it!! I am in awe of you and Annina. Absolutely. As one who has tried to chase a couple of mainstream personal challenges, which are dwarfed by the enormity of your wonderful odyssey, I find myself hanging on every word offered by your blog (or whatever it is called…).
    Lynne and I wish you the very best of good fortune for the trip ahead. Clearly, you will experience strong personal challenges and the need to move forward as a couple. What wonderful glue for your relationship. I, for one, cannot wait to see you sometime when you finally land in Oz.
    Paul and Annina, I LOVE the intrepid nature of your trip. I hope that our positive thoughts can help you work through the tough moments and finally reach your goal.
    Best regards.
    Greg and Lynne Pearce

    • Hi Greg and Lynne,

      It was great to get both your messages and thanks for the words of encouragement. Greg, as a firm but guiding hand during my education at CGS, I’m sure you’re happy to take responsibility for any literary genius, or for that matter grammar or spelling mistakes, which appear upon your screen over the next 12 months. We’ll definitely be looking forward to catching up over a cold beer to some stage back home to share some stories.

      All the best and happy reading,

      Paul and Annina

  5. Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to take a look.
    I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers! Terrific blog
    and superb design.

  6. I’m slightly behind but slowly catching up!! Congratulations on hitting the 1000km mark. One of what will no doubt be many great achievements over the journey.

    Daryl

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