August 19th – September 14th 2007 || Austria
Like that one into Czech Republic, the border crossing out was quite unspectacular, too – only this time we were allowed to show our passports. Well, we were in a German-speaking country again which meant that we knew which kind of store was hiding behind which door, shopping did not end in a big surprise and we were able to talk with locals without problems. Well, almost without, because we found out quickly that the Austrian and German language have a lot in common, but are definitely not the same what leaded to some laughing fits :-).
Additionally to their strange dialect (at least for north German ears…), Austrians seem to have a special liking for accuracy which we found is most amusing. Shortly before entering Linz, we saw a road sign that informed us about a speed limit of 70 km/h for the next 2,047 metres. We thought we had been mistaken as we passed the sign quite fast but shortly after this (exactly 200m later, we guess), we saw the next sign: 70 km/h for the next 1,847 metres... The traffic lights are quite accurate, too: they show a cyclist who dismounted from his bike and one who is sitting on it. We also liked the signs for "no parking" and stopping restrictions (stopping soon turns into parking when you try to compare the instructions with your calendar and watch) and the male and female form of address on many road signs. Not, that a female cyclist thinks that she is not allowed to enter a road in which her male companion is just about to turn ;-).
So changing to another Euro-country was quite pleasant and started with a long downhill-section after a few more metres uphill; we were able to roll down a well maintained road for 8 (eight!!) kilometres, superb!! But after this successful introduction things got quite unpleasant: a violent thunderstorm kept us crouching, trembling and flattening our ears like little rabbits while the lightning strikes around us lit up the night and hammered our eardrums. Usually we find our tent a very cosy place, but during these hours we would have preferred to have something more solid around us than just 3 aluminium poles and paper-thin polyester.
Melting pot Linz
In Linz, we had made arrangements to stay with Martyna and Fernando, a Polish-Portuguese couple whom we got to know via the hospitality club once again. They were about to leave for a big trip to Asia but insisted on hosting us because they are planning to cycle through South America and wanted to get some advise from us. We spent the days with sight-seeing in Linz and on the Poestlingberg which you can reach with the steepest mountain railway in the world, enjoyed Linzer Torte (the famous Austrian tart) and the evenings with our hosts. And it became even more „international”: Martyna brought her Mongolian colleague home and we had Spaghetti Bolognese while we learned a few Mongolian vocabulary and customs.
Martyna and Fernando love to play parlour games and so we turned into Ligretto victims for two evenings. That is an extraordinary fast (and very funny) card-game in which the two - and especially Fernando - are so skilled that we had absolutely no chances to win. But it was real fun and we learned a lot about life in Poland and in Portugal - the hospitality club turned out to be a nice possibility of getting to know other people and countries - even if it was not about the country we were visiting this time. Before we could keep our hosts from catching their plane on their day of departure, we continued our journey along the Danube.
The cycling path was flat except for the Wachau, but this nice wine-growing area with its little villages was well worth the effort. We passed this beautiful scenery and historical sites like the baroque Benedictine monastery of Melk (where we even found a place for our tent with direct view to the monastery) on our way to Vienna.
The next day we beat our records and pedalled 100 kilometres because we had a date in Vienna for the following day around noon and we had quite a stretch of road ahead. The stretch was fine, the sun was shining, and so we made good progress. Until we reached Tulln. There was a big street festival going on and each and every inhabitant of Tulln seemed to be or to go there. Those who already were there, sat on a tribune which was cut into two parts by the Danube cycling path what obviously made this impassable. It seemed to take us ages to cross the town and this while we exceptionally were in a hurry.
Mozart and much moisture...
As we still had quite a bit of way to cover it was "early bird catches the worm" the next morning. Just in time for lunch we arrived in Vienna at the flat of Simon, Michaels former colleague with whom we stayed for several days. We explored Vienna and used the chance of doing our laundry with washing-machine and even a tumble dryer again, complete our equipment and update our homepage with the first travelogue. Unfortunately, this is connected with several days of work (this is the reason why we will publish new reports only every now and then). After some days, we moved to a campsite because Michael, a friend of Michael’s, was paying us a visit for a weekend.
Together, we inspected more sights of Vienna, e.g. the Hofburg, St. Stephens Cathedral, Schoenbrunn and the Kahlenberg and used the opportunity to have a reliable messenger to send some parts of our equipment and some mail home (Thanks again, Michael! :-)). After that we spend some evenings with Zahir, a friend of Michael who is living in Vienna.
And then there was the big rain which drowned our camp site and half of Austria. 52 hours of non-stop rain, amidst a hord of 60 Uruguayans gone wild in leaking tents – what a spectacle! Besides this we needed some spare parts for the bikes but which we couldn’t find in any shop, so they had to be ordered. When they finally arrived, they were not complete and they did not fit exactly so that we had to go back to the bicycle store to get them modified. So in the end the planned few days in Vienna had turned into 3 weeks and we were happy to be able to continue our journey after the rain stopped.
Not all tracks were accessible again because of the floodings but there were route diversions signposted and we were so naive to follow them. Luckily, there was again someone who saved us from getting lost: a mountainbiker blocked our way with the words "Wrong! This is the wrong way for you!!". The signs we had followed were leading us nowhere because they contradicted each other in parts so that we would have gone through the forest in loops for hours. The guy who saved us from this had some spare time and accompanied us. He showed us a shortcut back to our intended route and because we were chatting so nicely, he went with us for the next 12 kilometres - and went back the whole way to get home after this. We later heard from other cyclists that they got lost in that forest and had spent 3-4 hours to find their way out again while it took us about 20 minutes.
All roads lead to... somewhere else
After we had overcome these obstacles successfully, nothing could stop us from going to Bratislava which lies just across the border in Slovakia, our next country. Nothing? Well, almost nothing: there were exactly 4 information signs which could have been right for cyclists who want to go to Bratislava, all pointing in different directions. Two of them ended on dirt tracks leading nowhere, one led directly to the lane for trucks which seemed to turn into a motorway later and one pointed across this lane. This one seemed to be the best choice (after all, we did not want to cycle into Bratislava on the motorway). So we kept on pedalling on the Austrian side of the border for a while, because this way, too, turned out to be wrong. But it led us across a nice, quiet road through beautiful scenery and we decided to follow it, no matter where we would end up - even if it would be the Hungarian border. If we went to Hungary or finally made it into Slovakia…? Read it in our next report :-).
One of many things which we want to learn on our trip is milking. In the Wachau-area we finally found a cow which was patient enough with us - unfortunately it didn't work quite as expected. But at least we know now why they are talking about the "milk lake" in the EU...
Hier steht mal wieder ein völlig unsinniger Satz, der
nur dazu da ist, den Content-Bereich künstlich zu vergrößern, damit die Tabellen alles schön in die Mitte rücken können - so, ich denke, das sollte reichen.