A Brief Visit to Austria

Vienna skyline from the Summer Palace

Vienna skyline from the Summer Palace

We didn’t spend much time in Austria. It was more of a destination to meet with family and friends which happened to be in the direction we were headed.  Austria is beautiful. The gardens are well kept, there is little trash on the ground and the people are generally helpful. A little rough around the edges at first, but once they open up, we found most to be nice.

However, Austria was not cheap. By any means.   We chose to hang out in Vienna for an extra day in an Air B&B apartment which drove our lodging budget through the roof.

We headed into Austria from the Palava area of the Czech republic. Immediately we were happy to find beautiful rolling hills with old schlosses (castles) on the top of bergs (hills).

We found a small, discrete campground in Loosdorf.  The campground was really nothing more than a corner of grass in front of a house that was converted into a sanitary room (as they like to call them) and a small sitting room.  It actually was very peaceful, a welcome reprieve after our experience in the largest campground in the Czech Republic where we were camped with 5000 of our best Czech friends.

In the early evening, Jen and I rode to the store in the next town – 1 km away up a big hill according to our camp host who actually offered us a ride because the hill “was so steep”.  We politely declined the ride and pedaled, slowly to the klein (small) store which had very little to offer.  “if you want anything more” the shop keeper stated ” you’ll have to head to Mistelbach 16 km the other direction”.  We had enough food for the night so we coasted back to camp and enjoyed a very quite evening. Only one other couple joined us in the camping platz- they were looking for a couple of nights out of the rain on their motorcycles.

The next day we rode from Loosdorf to Vienna- a long day – 84 km with lots of hills and no food.  Well, we had some snacks but had planned on hitting up a store along the route.  Unfortunately, no stores were open.  It was a national holiday in Austria and nothing was open.  By the time we got to the Danube, 15 km from our lodging for the night, we were all starving.  A little snappish and ready  to eat.  The first open biergarten on the river was a welcome site and we tucked into spatzle and radlers.  Food never tasted so good.

Vienna was beautiful. I could definitely spend some serious time in Vienna except we probably couldn’t afford it.  We met with my brother Nick, his son, Mark and our good friend Annett and her man Rudy. And Jen was with us for the first three days.  It was fun to explore the rich culture and taste the fine food of Vienna with family and friends.

On Tuesday morning, We left Vienna and followed the Danube east towards Slovakia. We had a pleasant ride and did not see anything out of the ordinary as our friend Jen reported on the previous day.  She said that there were hundreds of naked people bathing on the bike path and that they were all Australian – in her words ” there were so many Austrian willies everywhere. I did not know where to look without chuckling”.  We were spared the Austrian willies.

We were unable to secure any warm showers hosts in Bratislava.  We knew there was a camp site north of town but are always leery to get into a major city later in the day.  Navigating through city streets when we are tired is not a good idea. So we decided to wild camp in the national park in Austria – just west of the border.  Although wild camping is forbidden in the national park, we found one spot that allowed tents – and it was all ours.  It was a beautiful spot however, it was not quiet- there were river barges trudging upstream all night and you could hear the traffic on the bridge just to the west.  Plus, my overactive imagination kept me awake most of the night (axe murderers – there was an axe in a pile of wood near our camp – rising rivers and wild dogs) – all stayed in my head and we had an otherwise peaceful night.

The ride into Slovakia was mostly along the Danube EuroVelo 6 bike path.  We had a short stretch which we had to share our path with cars being diverted off the main hwy.  Otherwise the ride was flat, easy and uneventful.  The border crossing into Slovakia was equally uneventful.  It was obvious that you are in another country because all of the sudden the signs are in Slovak, there were bars on all the windows of the casino and adult night club and the remnants of the border crossing buildings lie abandoned as merely a monument to times past.

It is interesting how a line drawn on the map causes changes in aesthetics, culture, language, attitude, economy and the infrastructure as you pedal from one country to the next.  These changes are obvious the minute you pedal across that line.

More pictures to come!

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