Austria feels big. Huge landscapes as soon as you’re over the border and a few fairly big climbs too. The farmland is extremely tidy and productive, more of a German approach as you would expect, but the driving could not be more different. We were both shocked at the confident and competitive driving style, watching countless sports cars and motorbikes racing through villages as well as on the main roads and whilst the promised cycle routes were there, unfortunately they tended to be on the same race track.
Our first night’s camping brought jacket potatoes from a German family on a cycling holiday and then thieves who visited the three tents in our fields in the night. Nothing taken from us, but the couple next to us lost a bottle of wine and 50 Euros before they were disturbed and chased off. We chatted to the police in the morning before setting off along the most popular cycle route in Europe – the Donauradweg / Danube Cycle Route.
The riding is easy, mostly on asphalt and much of it alongside the river. We expected it to be busy but we passed very few cyclists, the occasional walker and a duck or two. After the Czech mountains, it was like having a day off with the verges bursting with Spring colours, but we still stopped early; another campsite / hostel to ourselves. We’ve been rain dodging our way through and getting better at it judging by tales of fellow campers.
The Danube Cycle Route got us through Vienna without emerging from the riverside and from there took us virtually all the way to the Slovakian border on a safe, flat, strip of tarmac on a flood defence bank, surrounded by green – fields, woodland and waterways. Sounds idyllic and in many ways it was, but its homogenous nature could also send you mad!