02, 03, 04 October 2015 – the Danube; Austria and into Germany

I’m a little behind on my blog due to some long cycling days, and lack of decent wifi; it’s a bit odd how the wifi in Western Europe seems to be worse than further East and down South. I’ve made good progress along the Danube, and am currently contemplating how I get through the rest of Germany and into France. It looks like a bit of a convoluted route, with a few mountains in the way, however I’m sure it’ll work out.

Here are my routes and stats for the last few days:

–> 02 October – to Au an der Donau (150km)
It was a cold start to the day in Vienna, or just West of Vienna anyway, and my tent was soaked in condensation; I hate packing up a wet tent but no choice.

I had various thoughts on my route today, including heading North over the hills to join the Danube cycle path, however in the end I stayed on the roads and pedalled West, joining the official route later on.

After riding down some fairly quiet roads, through some nice farmland, and the occasional town, all with a central church, I made it to Melk and the Danube after 70km. Oh, and I also passed Weiner Wald, which amused me greatly.

I crossed over to the North side, then continued on the cycle path that runs right next to the river, enjoying the flat pedalling and nice scenery.

The rest of the ride to Au an der Donau was easy-going, with a tailwind to help speed me along, and a few random phone calls to people at home to help pass the time; my mobile data was on anyway and calls are free once I’ve paid the Vodafone Euro-traveller rate for the day. I passed several cycle tourers going the other way, all struggling a bit with the headwind, but didn’t catch up with any going my way. The cycle path was busy for some stretches, with a lot of casual cyclists out and about, and really quiet for other bits.

I realised I’ve been slowly but steadily climbing since I joined the Danube cycle route, from just over 100m in Bulgaria, to over 200m in elevation now. It will be interesting to see how high I get before I leave the Danube, wherever that may be. Needless to say I’ve climbed up and down a lot more than that; the path isn’t always flat!

After a quiet last stretch, aside from a few ducks and herons, I made it to my campsite in Au an der Donau, where I met up with several other cycle tourers staying the night. Patricia and David were from Canada, on their way to Budapest, along with Malachi from Ireland, and George also from Canada who was heading up to Poland then Berlin. It was great to meet up and chat with other cycle tourers again; we headed to a restaurant (Gasthof) in the village for a couple of beers and some food. A very pleasant evening of swapping stories, route tips and eating was had; I ate a lot, consuming two dinners to try to replace the calories I’d used pedalling 150km.

Patricia and David mentioned the concentration camp (Mauthausen) they’d visited just the up the road, which I could go and see tomorrow, however I think I’m more likely to press on towards Germany and Passau. It’s probably important that I visit such a place at some point, however after the House of Terror in Budapest I think I’ll keep things light for a bit!

–> 03 October – to Passau, Germany (140km)
I was up early, ready to ride back to country number 6 of my tour, Germany again. I said goodbye to my fellow tourers, who were heading North or South East respectively, then set off into a cold but dry morning; much less condensation on my tent so easier to pack up!

The ride was fairly standard until Linz, at about the 30km mark, then things started to get interesting with the cycle route entering a valley, or I guess you’d call it a gorge, through which the Danube flows.

The scenery was beautiful, much more exciting than yesterday’s, with lots of other cyclists using the well signposted routes, on both sides of the river, and several tourers to say hello to.

I remained on the North side of the river for a long time, spurning several opportunities to cross to the other side by ferry or bridge. There were several large barges cruising up or down the Danube, transporting various goods (not sure what, maybe coal again); looks like the river is still used as a major haulage route as well as for tourism. The cycling was pretty effortless and very enjoyable, however I knew it was too good to last. Close to St. Martin, where there’s a castle on a hill, the path ran out at a bend in the river, at some cliffs where people were climbing; looked awesome fun. A footpath carried on however it wasn’t passable by bike, even if I was to carry it and my gear (I checked). I had to backtrack a hundred metres or so to find a track heading up the hill, which looked like it might take me where I wanted to go.

The narrow trail was very steep, and initially covered in brambles and stinging nettles which didn’t do my legs any good. One of my pedals also slammed into my right calf, whilst I was pushing, causing a fair amount of bleeding even if it was only a shallow scrape. Eventually the path widened, passing through pleasant woodland that was very peaceful, even if I was sweating profusely, stinging, and still bleeding slightly. I made it to the top, where thankfully the path joined a road at the castle, and then sped down the other side to rejoin the cycle route. I reckon it was a good mini adventure, or side-quest, and I don’t doubt many other cyclists have experienced the same thing; if they spotted the side path that is, it’s a bit obscure but prevented me having to backtrack several kilometres to find a crossing.

I’m not sure what was causing it however I heard a loud siren, like an air raid warning, a few times near my mini-adventure site. I wondered if it was perhaps a flood warning being testing, or a faulty siren being triggered by the large barges and tourist boats on the river. I was just hoping there wasn’t really a flood in progress, which could have provided a more dramatic type of adventure.

I took the ferry to the other side of the river near Kirchberg ob der Donau, not wanting to repeat my side-quest, and followed the signs on to Passau. Again the riding was really good fun, and I’d recommend the route to anyone. It’s obviously very popular with cyclists as I passed a lot of people out for a day’s ride; lots of e-bikes too, which confused me a little when quite elderly people started to overtake me.

I crossed back over to the North side of the river, by a bridge this time, near Niederranna, still in Austria I think, although it as hard to tell with no border crossings visible. Somewhere along the line I crossed into Germany, as I noticed I received a text from Vodafone welcoming me, and suddenly there were a lot more cars with German number plates. It was a long ride up to Passau, through lots of small towns, and passing yet more cyclists. I paused in Passau, which is definitely in Germany, and is also known as the city of three rivers (Dreiflüssestadt); the Danube is joined by the Inn from the South and the Liz from the North. It’s another ancient city, with a large University, and an interesting history (look it up).

I couldn’t find any open shops, which was slightly annoying as I needed supplies, but eventually found a garage where I could buy some chocolate and fizzy pop. Then it was on the Dreiflusse camping, just West of Passau, where I was given a friendly welcome and a place to pitch my tent for just €12. I was feeling pretty tired, so was glad they have their own restaurant; the Gypsy schnitzel was very good, as was the beer, and the Hungarian goulash soup.

Unfortunately the wifi wasn’t working, so I couldn’t update my blog (one of the reasons I’m a bit behind), however as I was tired, and full of good food, it was nice just to relax in my tent and get an early night. Aiming for Regensburg tomorrow; Germany is going to take a while to cross, but that’s okay, it’s a great country.

–> 04 October – to Regensburg (140km)
140km kilometre days seem to be becoming the norm, and my legs aren’t complaining in the morning so all good. I wouldn’t have been able to keep this up a few months ago, so I must be a lot fitter than when I started. It probably also helps that I’ve lost at least 10kg!

My tent was a bit damp again in the morning, only on the outside, but it takes ages to dry now it’s colder so I had to pack it up wet. As well as it being colder I’ve developed a cold, which is more irritating than anything else, although it does seem to be getting a bit worse so I’ll have to feed it lots, and perhaps try to cure it with wine, or schnapps.

I was on the road again by 08:00, pedalling off into a quiet Sunday morning, with only river and birds for company for the first hour. It was lovely cycling in the peace and quiet, as a pair of herons flew over, and with ducks dabbling on the over. I spotted loads of birds today, including the aforementioned, but also buzzards, various tits, a Green Woodpecker, Grebes and I think Cormorants; lots of crows still too, which again seem to follow me sometimes.

The scenery wasn’t as exciting as yesterday, however it was still pleasant riding, despite a bit of a headwind getting up in the afternoon. I rode up to Deggandorf, then lost the cycle route signs somehow, and ended up crossing over to the South side and following roads to Straubing. The roads actually made a nice change, with some different things to look at; various small towns, farmland and German Sunday life going on.

I stopped in Straubing for a lunch break, and had a wander around the Sunday market that was in full swing. After a cheeky Mcdonalds, just because it was convenient and I hadn’t had one in a while, I bumped into Charles from France, on his way down the Danube on his touring bike complete with large trailer. We both stopped for a bit to exchange advice on the route; was good to speak some French again.

After Straubing I crossed the river again, then passed through more countryside on my way to Regensburg. Unfortunately the day got duller as it progressed, with cloud cover moving in, and rain starting as I entered the city. I had intended on having a look around Regensburg, as there are loads of Roman remains to visit, however I was feeling pretty tired, and wet, so headed pretty much straight for the campsite.

I later learnt there’s a famous sausage restaurant in Regensburg; missed out there but enjoyed some traditional Bavarian fayre at the campsite restaurant. My tent was under siege from rabbits when I got back to it, however they didn’t prevent me from falling asleep very quickly. On to Donauworth tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “02, 03, 04 October 2015 – the Danube; Austria and into Germany

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