We left the Czech Republic behind in the sun and pedalled on into Austria where I always thought they mowed the mountains and combed the conifers. Though not that far from the truth, I was of course wrong. We headed along the main road to Freistadt and discovered that the Austrians are not the Dutch and nor are they the Germans. By this, I mean they don’t molly-coddle the cyclist. They like speed and don’t appear too keen on anything that hinders that speed, such as two sweaty cyclists climbing their hills. Anyway, we reached Freistadt and picked up a map with cycle routes on it and set off towards Linz and the Danube cycle route which would take us all the way to Bratislava in Slovakia and then hopefully to Budapest.
A few hours later, we arrived at a campsite on the river. That night some thieves broke into our tent. By this, I mean they undid the zip and then walked away, obviously unimpressed by Janyis’ pannier full of clothes waiting for them to steal. They did however make off with someone else’s belongings. The day clouded over and we pedalled along in flat, fairly boring safety on the Danube Cycle Route (the most popular cycle route in Europe apparently, though not today). We then spent a night at a ‘Nature’s Friend’ site which was very grand and very empty so we had the site and the lodge with kitchen, lounge and showers to ourselves.
The Danube route is not entirely traffic free and where it meets the road you’re in with the traffic. The roads are pretty quiet and the cars on the whole not too fast, but it’s one to be aware of, especially if you’re cycling with kids
Next day was Sunday, so as is traditional in this part of the world, we stopped for Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) at a village cafe. I don’t think the woman liked us (hard to believe, I know), because she wasn’t very polite. Maybe it was because we were dirty and scruffy and I smelled a bit, I don’t know. The end of the day saw us at the very well manicured and expensive Tulln campsite.about 20 miles outside Vienna.
Next morning it rained and then stopped so we set off for the big city which came and went surprisingly quickly. We didn’t leave the cycle route and stayed on the river all the way through, so can’t comment on Vienna at all, other than to say there’s lots of graffiti on the waterfront. We then got lost before eventually making our way to a poxy little site in Petronell, not far from the Slovak border.
We left Austria in the rain to head for Bratislava. I find it hard to form an opinion on the Austrian stretch of this tour; I never felt particularly welcomed into this nation – perhaps they’re just shy. The Danube Cycle Route is pretty safe and certainly an easy ride, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this may be just the country for you.