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.

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…

Mühldorf to Au an der Donau, 51km – 23/08/18

I promise I won’t generally write about hotels, but Hotel Schloss Mühldorf was a pretty special place, and because of this we struggled to leave!!

We started the day with a swim in what was actually a pond but made to look like a swimming pool. And it’s water filtration was a reed bed. In fact all but it’s shape was very natural and just delightful.

Even the grey cat was pondering a swim!

From there to breakfast….. I’m not sure I have ever seen such a beautiful breakfast buffet!

Well, we stayed long enough but could have stayed for hours more!

One final stroke of grey cat….

….. and, at nearly 11am, it was time to leave.

Evie was asleep within 100m of cycling off after the excitement of the morning. That was the upside to leaving so late. The downside was it was hot hot hot again.

Our first place we cycled through was Goldwörth, where they tried to pan gold somewhat unsuccessfully. We peddled along pretty lanes surrounded by agricultural crops until we met up with the official route again.

This section of the Danube is very wide and is surrounded by much flatter woodland. We even saw the bees that made the mornings woodland honey! Well the hives were very jolly and in woodland anyway.

Inspiration! Came across a family from Canada who are away cycle touring and camping for two months! It can be done. And they had two children, a 6 month old and a 2 year old. All they had were pannier laden bikes and a laden trailer. They were even carrying a balance bike for the 2 year old. Their secret, only to aim at about 30km a day in one hour stints.

The main town of note was Ottensheim, with its lovely main square. Had Evie not still been sleeping then it would have been a fabulous place to stop and relax over a drink. It’s church was surprising. Looked super old on the outside and then modern on the inside.

The next stage of the journey was not so nice, we continued on the north bank as there was a cycle path off the road, so there was no risk from traffic, but it wasn’t pretty as we cycled through Linz suburbia. The South path though was on the road, even if prettier, not recommended when towing a child.

We thought that we would go and see The old part of Linz, so cycled into its Hauptplatze. It was nice, full of cafes. But we were hot, we had a packed lunch, so the shores of the Danube were calling louder! And somehow Evie was still asleep.

At this point we were back to Costa del Danube, with the pebbly shores full of sunbathers and people enjoying swimming safely downstream before getting out, walking back upstream and repeating the whole thing.

Even Evie had a bit of time in the very shallowest parts of the shallows. She wasn’t so sure of the waves from passing boats but did enjoy splashing and playing with pebbles. Without knowing it I’m sure she also enjoyed cooling down!

Highly reluctant to leave, but we still had nearly 30km to cycle in the unrelenting sun. Thankfully the break had tired Evie out and she slept again, but we were running out of energy.

Still, trying to see the positives, there were lots of beautiful swans, and the distance to our end point was getting closer, even if it didn’t feel like it.

Evie woke at an appropriate moment, and we found ourselves in a ‘Texan’ bar, where we parked our bikes in the ‘Harley’ spaces! The music was great so Evie had a dance. Then there was even some live music. Evie got into the swing off it, desperate to join everyone else drinking from beer glasses! Sadly we had to leave the fun behind, and Evie was NOT happy to go!!

This made the last miles very hard, and seem even longer than they were already feeling. Typically, she fell back to sleep just as we were arriving at Au an der Donau! But that was a good thing as it took us a while to find our accommodation and get sorted…..

Looking forward to a day around here tomorrow.

Passau to Mühldorf 22/08/18 – 67km is a long way with a baby!

Day one of the cycle tour part of this trip, on new heavy bikes, fully laden with panniers and a trailer loaded with Evie…. and stuff.

So first thoughts…. it was too far in one day.

Second…. we set off far too late! That won’t surprise some of you.

Third…. Evie was a star. She slept most of the day

So our first stop this morning was in Passau, at the church of St Nikoli, as yesterday we were told of this very peaceful 1000 yr old crypt that was there.

We ruined that peace! Evie was tired, hungry and needed a change. So I saw it for all of about 1 minute, but it was worth the visit.

And then we were off! And what a glorious morning it was to!

Our final trip through Passau down the Inns, then out and away. We probably got our best view yet of the confluence of the Inns and the Danube.

I didn’t know quite what I was expecting. But I wasn’t expecting a fairly main road to run alongside us for so long. However, it felt very safe as there was a barrier between the road and the cycle path. I also wasn’t expecting to be literally next to the Danube the whole way, that was a pleasant surprise.

Evie fell to sleep before we even left Passau. It was roasting hot, with no shade, but we decided that we just had to keep going whilst she slept. Luckily she woke literally as a Resthaus came into view, as drinks were welcome by all of us. We got a rest, and she got a wriggle!! I also decided to completely soak her romper and hat in cold water to keep her cool as we continued on.

We passed through a couple of lovely small towns, with beautiful old buildings.

And then onwards, back past the lock and the power station before heading through pretty countryside.

Evie Bean did of course sleep through the important border control!

We kept going as long as we could, or at least as long as I could before a lack of energy and too much heat got to me. A lunch stop, another wriggle for her and a dunk in the Danube fully clothes, shoes and all, for me to cool down.

Onwards through lanes of trees, the road by the side of us had now disappeared.

We then got to a big bend in the river where we needed to get a little ferry across to Schlogen on the south bank of the river.

Evie slept through the excitement of a boat trip but woke up just as we arrived at Schlogen.

We knew we still had about 30km to go, time was ticking, an Evie did not want to be in the trailer any more… after a few stops and cuddles, she did fall back to sleep again. And she missed the beauty of the wooded hillsides, which are already turning autumnal. The scenery was just stunning for mile after mile.

There was a point in the river where you could see all the way around the bend on the other side. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

Then we saw the Neuhaus castle high upon the opposite bank, one of the largest castle complexes in the region. Certainly it looked impressive from below.

Despite the gorgeousness of it all, the energy was low again. Boosted by some flapjack, we pedalled onwards, but my legs were tired and I was looking forward to getting to Aschach for some food. Lucky for us all I think, Evie stayed asleep until we did finally get there.

Aschach was smaller that expected, but it had some lovely old buildings. It also had a good dinner and some good cuddle and clambering time for Evie. Her new thing today that she enjoyed were some very strongly flavoured mushrooms!

Final push, less than 7km to Mühldorf, where we are staying tonight.

And that final push was worth it. We are staying at a castle…. it’s pretty cool. And it has an outdoor swimming pond!!

Much fewer miles tomorrow…. will be no bad thing. We got away with it today somehow, but I wouldn’t fancy repeating it. And that’s just with Evie, never mind the legs!

Passau – cruising down the river on a sunny afternoon

Another amazing breakfast to start the day, although this morning Evie is more interested to practice her standing than she is to try food.

We headed out to the head of Passau peninsula, to see where the rivers Inns, a glacial river, and Danube (not glacial) converge. Quite a stark contrast when looking down on it.

We then boarded another boat, as we had decided that the best way to avoid the heat but still see things was to go on a 5 hr river cruise. This was really reasonable at €18 and it was a beautiful boat journey, passing through woodland and agricultural areas and past small villages. Have us an idea of what is to come when we start cycling.

Leaving Passau we saw the convergence more clearly. Another interesting point was a big lock that the boat entered, due to a change in river heights due, I think, to a hydropower station.

Took quite a while to get through…. twice.

We took a picnic with us, but when we saw other people’s food come out and saw the prices (cheaper than most land restaurants), we decided to save the picnic for later and treat ourselves to food on the boat.

Evie’s interest in food continued, and today she discovered strongly flavoured courgette and red pepper! Can’t say I blame her, it was scrummy.

We took in some more gorgeous views….

Before treating ourselves to ice-chocolates…. must not make a habit of this! Enjoyed this as we headed back towards Passau.

The boat trip over, but as well as being relaxing and enjoyable in its own right, it served its important purpose of keeping Evie Bean out of the heat of the day (because it certainly is hot here in the afternoons).

So we decided that by now a leg stretch was in order and ascended the many steps up to the castle, to gain a view over Passau.

Even with Evie in a front sling, keeping a steady pace, this was fine. And it was worth it. The views from the top were spectacular. So many different coloured building and roofs. And the cathedral just towers high above the rest (the the other buildings are not small!).

The descent was pretty special to.

And probably one of the best nappy change spots yet…

We also caught the sun setting making it all very pretty, and turning us into golden girls!

Back to the peninsula park for our picnic.

I had to test the waters with my toes. And I’m not sure if I was surprised or not, but the Inns was notably more refreshing (cold) than the Danube. I would say there are degrees in difference.

From there, a stroll back in the beautiful light and past time to get Evie to bed. What an amazing day we have all had…. and, thankfully, no toilet incidences tonight to finish the story!