The end of the trip – a day in Vienna

Vienna – the city of amazing buildings. Not just a few, but streets and streets of them in every direction.

First port of call is working out the U-bahn. Not tricky unless the ticket machine doesn’t work! But we got it sussed and got to the main Bahnhof to get our tickets back to Munich airport. A ticket for €8 a day did us well, works on trains, trams and busses and lasts for 24hrs.

Tomorrow’s train sorted, onto sightseeing. First stop was St Stephan cathedral. What a sight to behold both inside and out. None of the gold of places but instead finely carved stonework and the detail was something else.

Outside there were people selling tickets for an intimate evening concert, in the room in which Mozart first gave a concert at 6 year old. After some contemplation, we decided to get some tickets.

Just walking around Vienna is amazing without looking at anything in particular, but just looking up.

The buildings are enormous

The archways are intricately decorated

And the courtyards inside are something else at times

One now shopping centre was just so beautiful, you can only imagine that at some point the wealth of each individual residence to be decorated such.

A lunch and my final ‘Gespritz’.

After packing up the bags we headed out into the late afternoon. Via the incredibly impressive Rathaus, where there was a 2018 film festival going on.

We went onwards to Votivkirche, which was towards the end of its process of being cleaned up on the outside. Beautiful again.

The inside was mostly behind curtains and being turned into a temporary art gallery.

We walked in via impressive building after impressive building….

…… to an innocuous doorway.

Once inside though we were in Palais Schönborn-Batthyany, the place for the concert. Quite relieved the tickets were not a con, we took our seats.

The musicians were said to be from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Opera, certainly they were good enough to be so. Playing and singing all the well known pieces, the first half went well.

In the second half Evie started rubbing her eyes and getting very wriggly…. then crotchety…. and finally loud shouts. Mid-piece, there endeth the concert for me & her. She had done very well to this point though and you can’t really reason with a 4 month old!

But as soon as I walked her around outside the door she calmed right down, so I could at least dance on the stairway to the final pieces, which in itself was quite nice. Whether for me or not, they kept the door partly open once I walked out.

A final meal in a very local pub, The Centimetre, just round the corner from our hotel. Popular and with good reason.

A really enjoyable evening and way to finish our trip.

Tulln to Klosterneuburg – 27km into the wind

Our last day of cycling, a short day in distance but a big day in effort as the headwind got ever stronger.

First exciting thing. We trialled Evie in a high chair and she was great in it! Less frustrating for her and a whole lot easier for me!

Clearly I made sure she was dressed in her most appropriate romper for our final day!

And finally we were set for off!

We visited the ossuary / charnel house in Tulln first thing as the door in the amazing doorway was now open. Was intricately painted inside.

Then past the front of our youth hostel from last night. We never did find out what the building was in the past …. speculated on it being a hospital

And we were on our way. It was just big open river for practically the whole way

Mum wanted a go at towing Evie , so we swapped bikes, which made me suddenly feel like I was riding an e-bike (not that I’ve ever tried but how I’d imagine it to be).

Battling into the wind became quite energy sapping. We eventually got to Korneuburg, which had a tale of a rat catcher almost identical to the pied piper of Hamlin.

We had planned to go in to see the Rat Catchers fountain, but it looked a busy town and I didn’t fancy navigating it towing Evie, and due to the wind it was getting later than planned.

So instead we got our final river ferry of the trip across to Klosterneuburg, which Evie slept through. Back on the south side, we finally enjoyed a drink

And a swim / paddle / play with stones!

There is a huge monastery in Klosterneuburg which is massively impressive from the outside.

We decided to make this our final call and cycled there to discover you couldn’t go inside unless on a tour (which was in an hours time – too long to wait). But you could go and see the church, which was pretty impressive from the outside. Check out even the roof!

…. and just so beautifully painted inside.

And then that was it!

Bikes to be unloaded here in Klosterneuburg as our rental company wouldn’t collect from Vienna. Sad times.

Loaded the panniers back into bags, un strapped the car seat. It was hot and despite having used up nappies and milk powder, the bags were still heavy!

We lugged them to the train station to find out there actually isn’t a direct train. Then we lugged them to the bus stop. A change also required….. so we got a taxi! So much easier and to the hotel door…. stress evaporated!

Our hotel, Station Graf, has a bonkers lift!

Evie was exhausted!

And Vienna looks beautiful…. we have a day here tomorrow to enjoy, before it’s all change and onto adventures new.

Melk to Krems – 41km. Up the Burgruine Aggstein and into Wachau. 27/08/18

After the worst night sleep in a long time, we finally gave up and got up! But what a day we have had. The sun was shining, so the makeshift towel shade went on, and we managed an earlier start.

Out of Melk, straight up a hill (felt like a mountain with the trailer), and along the south side. From the river bank you could see Schönbühel, a privately owned residence – imagine if this were your house!! You couldn’t get near it unless you swan down the river! But incredibly beautiful to look at in the morning light.

First stop was the St Rosalia Parish church and monastery, one of 15 chapels on a processional route from the Holy Land to Rome. So precious is this church that you can’t go in, but you can look in.

Also had a lovely vista

From here we peddled on, down a clearly very dangerous (small) hill! Given the hills I cycle at home, this seemed an extreme sign.

Down a beautiful woodland path… and then bike track roadworks!!!

We looked up at Bergruine Aggstein, discussed going up there, decided it was a silly idea…. then found ourselves going anyway. Well, I had seen a picture taken from it, and I’m a sucker for views! It warned of 20% climbs, so we thought we would bike as far as possible and then walk. What that meant was we turned the corner…. and then walked!!!

The ‘wanderweg’ sign suggested it would take 1hr 15mins. It was steep, it was beautiful, and it only took us 45mins (and we weren’t going fast). Through gorgeous woods, it was actually quite nice to be off the bikes and on foot for a while.

And the walk was worth it. The castle, another UNESCO world heritage site, was still in very good condition. It was very well set out (unless you are scared of heights!), lots of boardwalks to access high up and phenomenal views.

Somewhere you didn’t want to end up, the 8m deep starvation put!

The views really were just something else.

And it had a nice cafe / restaurant!

Reluctant to leave again, but we still had another 20km to cover. Walking down we were attacked by killer-corns, raining down from the oak trees. I think there may have been a cheeky squirrel up there throwing its acorns at us!

Back at the bikes and we were off. Passing by lots of orchards and then into the start of the vineyards.

We crossed on a ferry to Spitz, as the north bank at this point was said to be beautiful.

Now have you ever seen a little ferry that has flower pots on?!??

And it was beautiful. At this point the bike trail comes away from the Danube and you wind your way through vineyards and really old small towns.

I loved this church in Spitz, look at the roof. It was getting later so we didn’t go to see inside.

The vines were loaded with grapes. Not knowing much about it, I don’t know if this was normal or exceptional due to the hot summer.

From Spitz to Weißenkirchen , this church was literally on route, although again you couldn’t go in. They obviously don’t trust the cyclist passerbys!

We continued onwards through the vineyards

And through the beautiful old small towns of Dürnstein

And Stein

We stopped to try the local gin (and bought some – just a small bottle mind)!

Before continuing on our way

To Krems, our stop for the night

In my opinion, this has been the best day yet, very varied and three completely differing beautiful types of scenery. Some, what I would normally call undulating roads, towing this load I call mountains!! But worth it…. in fact I would love to do this day all over again!

Grein to Melk – 47km 26/08/18

Having listened to pouring rain all night, we were a bit ambivalent to how today may go. But it’s fair to say, we lucked out!

Leaving our accommodation (surprise surprise) later than planned, knowing we had a reasonable ride ahead of us, we decided against visiting the castle in Grein.

So straight down to the ferry landing past a famous sundial (no sun in the sky though) and onto the boat, Evie already asleep!

One last view of Grein before we headed down the south bank, because it was the quieter of the sides.

It was a lovely small road through beautiful trees and back to wooded sides to the river, turning autumnal.

First stop for us was Ybbs, where we specifically went to go to the Radfahre museum (history of bikes). Small but worth a visit.

We went on the penny farthing….

Saw the fire engine bike….

The first inflatable rubber tyres (made by Dunlop)

The army bikes with sword attachments!

A bike with a waterproof cover (we need these back home!)

And a candle lamp (how did they stay alight? And how did they really guide the way?)

Ybbs itself was small but nice, although for a small place it had some massive buildings!

We crossed the hydroelectric bridge to Persenbeug, on top of which was a good view of one of these boat locks

And continued on our was along the north bank. Back through villages and agricultural land, until we found a nice lunch spot at Metzling, on the opposite side side of the river to the Theresien Chapel, a former Cistercian monastery. Looked nice but you can’t be on both sides of the river at once!!

We woke Evie for playtime and wiggle time. She chomped on more cucumber and tomato and then it was time to move onwards. Leaving Metzling, we passed these fun little stick men

We twiddled through the bumpy backstreets of villages because the cycle path was being replaced (will be super nice and smooth for whoever gets to ride on it soon!) until we came to a super curly bridge bike ramp!

The clouds were gathering so I feared they may unleash their worst

But as I said at he beginning, we lucked out and the sky got bluer.

Only 4 km to go to get to Melk, and our goal of reaching the Benedictine Abbey for getting our tickets before 4.30pm, the latest they let people in.

Impressive from a distance and ever bigger as you get nearer, this is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

However, despite its obvious popularity with tourists, there were no signs of how to get there by bike, which was odd considering it must be one of the major attractions on the cycle route. Anyway, we went up through the town (note the up, with the trailer, with a time pressure, equalled hard work!), and mum rushed in to get our tickets just in time whilst I did a much needed nappy change!

You enter through into a very impressive couple of courtyards and We then had 1&1/2 hours to scoot round the buildings and gardens. A well done exhibition of all things church related and super old (artefacts dating back many centuries), then through the library

Down some super fancy stairs

And into a highly ornate church with so much gold and colour

And a very impressive done

Back outside, the views from the balcony show us our route tomorrow

And we see a very old clock, that until recent times was made entirely of wood

Back out into the courtyard

Leaving 30 mins to see the gardens (don’t be late, you’ll be locked in behind massive metal gates!)

I rather likes this (amongst a set)

By going

By feeling

By speaking

By loving

By seeing

By thinking

By questioning

You are

(At least I think that’s how it translates)

And then it was time to leave, bump down the cobbled streets of Melk, and find our accommodation for the night.

Never easy, the owner had to search for somewhere suitable to store the trailer (I think it’s in his own living room!).

Au an der Donau to Grein – 29km

Only 14 degrees today! When we arrived at Au an der Donau at gone 7pm two days ago it was 27 degrees. A shorter day by far, that started after breakfast in the campsite ‘pool’, another lovely natural pool, but which must have had its source from elsewhere. It was so refreshing it left me tingling with cold. Too cold and deep for Evie, she practiced her sitting!

We set off in the rain, but it didn’t last too long, nor was it too heavy.

First thing of interest was at Machland; a fish ladder, considered Europe’s largest. They’ve even built an impressive viewing tower to look down on it.

…. and a massive man-eating fish!

After a while the cycle path left the Danube and headed inland. We were thirsty and in Mitterkirchen, a small little village, was an amazing restaurant called Radlerbauerhof, Familie Moser. I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are passing through this village.

Evie got to play in the pumpkins!

We got to drink homemade award winning cider and wine! And eat very tasty homemade soup.

It turned out they had a shop and were also a hotel. Somewhere I would happily return to stay. And that they made a large number of different wines, schnapps, brandies and even a whiskey!

Sadly it was time to leave again. So we cycled off through now very agricultural land, fields filled with corn and sugarbeet.

Before we knew it we were back by the Danube and in woods

Then the scenery changed again and the river got narrower, we were definitely going downhill (it’s the hardest gear I’ve needed to use yet!). It’s has also become more woody again. Sadly no sun to bring out the colour in the trees but pretty nonetheless.

Then suddenly…. we turned a corner and there was Grein in front of us. Even from a distance you could see it was a pretty town.

But it did have a short sharp hill just to get into it!

Having struggled up the hill to our lovely guesthouse, a lady who speaks no English welcomed us into her home. I was glad of my (somewhat terrible) German. I think she would have played with Evie all evening if we had hung around!

It wasn’t till we went to walk back into Grein I realised that the hill up really was quite steep, so I needn’t have berated myself for not being able to cycle up it!

We went up to the Schloss, but were to late to look around. The view was good though!

I knew Grein was old, but not quite how old. First documented in 1147, with major renovations in 1642, after a great fire had consumed most of the city.

We had an interesting hour looking around, in part because we accidentally visited two places at the same time as an American tour group off a Danube cruise was being shown around.

The Old Rathaus, from 1563, converted into a Municipal Theatre in 1791 was very interesting.

It was very quaint inside

Bit of particular interest were its original ‘locking seats’ – you owned a seat and locked it up so no-one else could use it

A loo with a view, so if you needed the toilet during a performance you could peep through the curtain to continue watching!!

And the fact that there was a prison cell attached to the theatre, but there was a peephole through, so the prisoners could watch the performances!! It is even said that folk brought them brandy and food to keep them quiet!

And the theatre is still in use today, but we didn’t get the chance to see a performance.

On into Grein church, with beautiful vaulted ceilings

We were lucky in that the American group, and therefore us to, got a short organ recital, which was very nice to listen to.

Then out for dinner, which is becoming ever more entertaining with Evie!

Tonight, she was after my wine big style!!

From there an amble back up the hill, in the rain. I had not taken out the bundle bean as I wasn’t expecting rain again, so ended up in mums waterproof worn backwards!

And the all essential evening play!

Enns – Austria’s oldest town – 24/08/18

When organising this trip I spotted that we would be passing close to Austria’s oldest town, Enns. We were not going to pass through it directly from the North bank, but I did want to visit it.

From the north bank you can catch a little ferry from Mauthausen that runs back and forth all day long. From the far bank it is only 6km to Enns, and beats cycling along a road with traffic.

Unfortunately I was expecting too much. Don’t get me wrong, the buildings were very impressive and well maintained. And it had a massive clock tower in the middle. But for me it was ruined by the number of cars driving through and parked in the square and the number of advertising flags hanging from buildings.

We enjoyed a late lunch anyway in the square. Evie enjoyed a play on a little rocking horse in a bank (random!), and then we had a wander around the back streets to make sure we weren’t missing something more special.

With very dark clouds appearing in the sky, we cycled the 6km back to the ferry and enjoyed a ride back over. Which just left time for an ice-cream on the front in Mauthausen and a bike back to our accommodation for the night.

Mauthausen – 24/08/18

So from a postcard we saw in an exhibit today, Mauthausen used to be a holiday destination from which people sent postcards.

It has a beautiful front running along the river bank and a gorgeous old town to match. But it has a darker side to, up a slight hill (or a massive hill when towing a trailer and a baby), is the site of a concentration camp. This was in operation at the same time that people were sending their postcards, in which they complained about the nearby smell.

Some 190,000 people were ‘processed’ through the camp. It was a ‘working’ camp, where the prisoners were put to work in a quarry or in nearby factories, but most died within 4-6 weeks of arrival. The conditions there were brutal and appalling. You first come across many memorials, put there by the countries whose people ended their lives at Mauthausen.

There was a lot, but not all, of the buildings left, and some of the sites are now mass graves.

It was a sombering experience, walking through not only the huts where prisoners slept, but through the crematoriums and gas chamber. A room with a very modern exhibit displaying 81,000 known names of people that died there and in satellite camps.

If you go, definitely pay the €3 for the audio guide, as it was very informative. It took about two hours to absorb, and I was glad that Evie slept through most of it.

Feeling a bit subdued, we cycled back down the shorter but steeper route into the town of Mauthausen. We headed to the river to catch a little ferry for the next part of our day…