Friday, 26 May 2017

To Vienna

It was not a bad day the wind died but going through the forest lots of small broken branches littered the path, only 48km to Melk (pop. 5300).

The Benedictines abbey.
The Babemberg princely family moved to Melk in 976 and made it the capital of the eastern borderland of the H.R.E., in 1089 Leopold the 2nd  gave his castle to the Benedictines who used it as the base for a new abbey. 

Nowadays it is a major tourist attraction and the abbey houses a school for 900 students. It is a must stop destination for Danube cruise ships.

The morning noise of rain woke me up, I knew the good weather would not last. Fortunately the rain was only light and I did enjoy riding through Austria's finest wine growing regions the "Wachau". Centuries old tradition of producing wines has turned the steep south facing slopes into terraces " stairs to the heavens" called by the locals, in more ways than one.

I arrived to Krems (pop. 24000) mid afternoon had a long hot bath (just in case you are wandering then I mention a long hot bath or shower I mean the politically incorrect 20-30 minutes experience not a 4 minute wash) and a good rest, a nice diner washed down with an excellent white.
The remains of the gate to Krems.

Klosterneuburg (pop. 25000) is just 13km from Vienna but as the 3 photos show it has just reason to want to remain separate.


All the best to all. Tom. 

Klosterneuburg

Klosterneuburg

Klosterneuburg

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Passau to Austria

Hi there,

I left Passau this morning, the weather is fantastic, sunshine and a light breeze 22-26 most of the day. The surrounding is magnificent, the river winding between 2 steep mountain ranges and 90% of the bike path is 1st class. The traffic has increased in the last 2-3 days there must be 20-30 bikes crossing me each half hour last week it was one or two. 

I stopped overnight in a small village Inzell might have a population of 100, a couple hotels and a small caravan park. It was so quiet I slept through the whole night till 7am. After a good breakfast I got on the road with a couple of German bikers, friends from school (now in there 50's) living in different parts of Germany and they get together for a week each year for a biking tour. After about 25km they went their way and I continued to Linz (pop. over 190,000), the temperature went up to 34 Celsius at 3pm so I was happy to get in my hotel and after a shower and a rest visit the town.

I don't know why but I like much better the old parts of towns. The huge squares surrounded by baroque buildings and the Holy Trinity Column in the middle erected in 1700's as compared to all glass office buildings and 6-7 story apartment blocks in the new parts.

I have been passing through Mauthousen( pop.5000) established as a toll station in about 1000AD with a gruesome recent history. 

From 1938 to 1945 a Nazi concentration camp operated west of the town, initially most of the inmates were political prisoners from Austria and Germany who were used as slave labour in granite quarries, later prisoners arrived from other countries invaded by the Nazis many from Poland and the Soviet Union, approximately 100,000 prisoners died here.

It was after 3pm than I arrived in Grein (pop 3000) a medieval port, here barges were unloaded to be transported past the rapids of Studengau gorge. I am staying overnight in a very nice guesthouse and I can hear the wind hauling outside I hope it will calm down by the morning.


All the best to all. Tom.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Passau

Passau, the City of Three Rivers, the confluence of the Danube and the Inn rivers plus the Ils river from the north created optimal conditions for the growth of the city. Originally a Celtic settlement, the Romans set up a colony on the south side of the Inn, when they left in the fifth century St. Severin established a monastery at the confluence.

Three centuries later it became a bishopric. From 1161 to 1803 Passau was an independent self-governing city within the Holy Roman Empire ruled by a prince-bishop. With secularization in 1803 the city became part of Bavaria.



After a devastating fire in 1662 most of the old-town was destroyed. The cathedral or commonly called the Dom, a baroque nave was added to the remains of the Gothic choir and transept (not that I noticed). It is the largest baroque church north of the Alps and the organ with nearly 18,000 pipes is the biggest in Europe, organ concerts are held daily in summer.


All the best,   Tom.






Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Regensburg to Passau

What a difference the weather makes it was a pleasant ride out of Regensburg I was soon passing Walhalla a building modeled on the Pantheon commemorating about 200 Germanic heroes I do not know enough of German history to be able to appreciate it and make it worth the big climb up the hill.

I arrived in Straubing (pop. 45000) after a 50km. ride but I was much to early - they have the 2nd biggest beer festival in Germany (Gaubodenvolksfest) in mid August with 1.5 million visitors, they should call it 'August-fest' and double the visitors. The main square is huge lined with 14th century buildings it is the get together place of the town. The hotel I am staying in for the night is run by a Lebanese refugee with relatives in Australia he visits them almost every year he lived in Sydney for 2 years before joining his brother in Germany, finally I will know that will be my diner before it is in front of me.

Getting ready to depart in the morning I realized the rear tire was flat the day is Sunday and Mothers Day everything is shut, fortunately the hotelier knew the owner of the bicycle shop next door and got one service men to come in, the tire did not have a hole the tube facing the lining on the wheel had some rubbish rubbing it until it started leaking air I got a new tube a lining and charged 20 euros for the lot I gave him an extra five, he was pleased and I even more.

I dread the thought what if? I could still be there instead of Deggendorf  (pop. 32000) a lovely town with its restaurants full with people celebrating Mothers Day. Few would think that this town gained a place in infamy due to an anti-semetic program in 1337 when the entire Jewish Community was destroyed by fire.(Look it up on the internet.)


Best regards to all.      Tom.



Saturday, 13 May 2017

Regensburg

I booked my hotel east of Regensburg for 2 nights I saved approximately $250 I figured bus to return for a visit $5 and taxi back to hotel $20 well worth it, and it is. It is even worth the one and a half hours of aimless wandering in a 6km maze. Take the section of Melbourne with the giant wheel and then triple it you have it about right.
Fortunately a cyclist took pity on me and guided me to the hotel a good 15 minutes x 2 detour for him, he certainly did his good act for the day.

Regensburg (pop. 36000 is regarded as one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities.The Romans built a fort here to control there northern borders. when the Romans left Regensburg become the capital of Bavaria from 530ad. The old town is a UNESCO heritage sight and it is easy to see why from the photos lovely squares, narrow alleyways and the old stone bridge.


All the best.     Tom.




Friday, 12 May 2017

Ehingen to Bad Gogging

Left Ehingen on a rainy morning a large part of this stretch is through wet-lands (even before the rain)  the Danube was regulated years ago and a lot of the old flood planes are now farms. Much of the bike tracks runs on top of the dykes or alongside them, then running alongside they often are below the water level of the river. Ulm population 170 000 on it's most famous building the Cathedral construction began in 1377 but due to various problems (C.F.M.E.U.) it finally was completed in 1890 with it's spire increased to 161.5 meters 4 meters taller then Koln cathedral and the tallest spire in the world. To have one of the greatest religious monuments and the greatest scientific minds (Albert Einstein 1879) cumming from a medium size town ads to it's prestige.

Bier Akademie
Street photos. 
A nasty day going to Hochstadt the rain keeps fowling all day I got lost twice so had to ride an extra 7-8km. and then I arrived to Gundelfingen a very impressive town my camera's battery was dead. Than I finally arrived in my hotel, the owner was kind enough to help me find my bike by hosing down all the mud, due to extensive use of my Bike Trail book in the rain it got soaking wet I had to interleave the pages with toilet paper to prevent them sticking together ( I did not waste all those years in the printing industry).

Just a fancy building.
After a long shower I went out for diner, having a glass of wine while deciding what to order an American couple I met during the day and commiserated with about the difficulties following the road signs sat down at the next table, we started to chat about our trips they are only going till Passau the end of the German trail and after have an extra week to look and see so it was a pleasant finish to a bad day.

Street photos. 
The next town I stay in is Neuburg  pop. 29 000 I did a bit of cheating I took the train for the hilly part so I will make up the 25km.on a side trip but the bonus for me is I feel fit to go and see the old town, beautifully maintained old buildings the photos do no justice to actually being there. Diner time again and who is coming down the street from the opposite direction the American couple from yesterday 3 times in 2 days, they noticed a restaurant so we decided to go there we had a nice long diner and chat. I do not think any of us would be to surprised if we meet again.

The altar in a church
The 1st really beautiful riding day on the trip and guess what, after 10 minutes on the saddle I noticed 2 familiar figures in front of me I caught up with the American couple and we rode together for some time, mostly on the dykes wet-lands one side farms and villages the other they are riding on to Kelheim  and I am going to Bad Gogging  a spa town I want to compare it to the ones I visited in Hungary and I can safely say Bad Gogging did not measure up.


A photo of me.
The 2nd good riding day to Weltenburg  and then taking a 5km trip on a ship to Kelheim through the Donaudurchbruch  gorge next stop Regensburg.

The ship to cross to Kelheim. 

Looking back on Weltenburg.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Riedlingen and Blaubeuren

I did not have much luck with the weather so far rained nearly every night and light showers during the days. I am told it will improve in the next 2 or 3 days, 80% of the tracks are generally good but it leaves up to 20% unpaved or bed, and than it rains it is worst.


Of course every coin has 2 sides, the country side is lush green and I pass a brook, stream, or river every km coming from all direction and most will join the Danube making it noticeably wider every 20-30km.


Much of the roads used as the cycle-way are  duel purpose country roads so the farmers can get to there plots and cyclists can enjoy riding in the fields. Than I cross some of the small villages it is easy to tell whether they breed animals or grow vegetables and there is a village every 5-6km. or a small to medium size town 5-25000 population every 30km., but people love rivers that is why they settled there first. A magnificent medium size town I am passing through is.


Riedlingen population 10 000 dating from the 13th century with it's traditional market square and half-timbered buildings from the 16th-18th century.


Blaubeuren population 12 000 medieval town with it's Benedictine Abby founded end of 11th century dissolved mid 16th century and later used as a school, a number of half-timbered buildings  draw the tourists as well as the main attraction the Blautopt a 20 meter deep lagoon fed by a karst spring 2000 liters of water per second it is one of Germany's largest and the source of the Blau River named because natural chemical impurities make the water blue is a special day trip on my rest day.


Best wishes to all.....Tom.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Tomorrow I will finally hit the road...

But today I will use my free train ticket to visit the biggest city in the Black Forrest region Freiburg.  A city is just a city but the 'old' Freiburg is certainly worth a look,  Many of it's buildings are from the 15th and 16th century and to see the magnificent Cathedral with it's leaded stain glass windows is a unique experience. 

I was in general impressed by bike parking facility's provided at railway stations, may even get your family 'cage' to hold 2-3 bikes, what you see on the photo is only one quarter of the available parking at Freiburg. 


Finally the Big-Day---The Danube Cycleway has it's official starting point so I made sure to ride by it on my way to Tuttlingen, the rain was not heavy but not a pleasant ride. The famous sinkholes could not swallow all the water (to much rain), so I rode through pleasant country side and got lost for 15-20 minutes but I still arrived at Tuttlingen population 27 000 and a lovely town. 


It is a major producer of surgical instruments and medical appliances with over 300 company's producing 50% of world output. 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Not Strictly to Plan

Hi there.

Friday was a good day, no rain, no snow, but still just 4 degrees (you cant have it all). The bike was ready at 10am a Giant Trekking cost just under 800 Euros with mud-guards, back-rack, front and rear lights with a dynamo in the front wheel and disk brakes, triple chain-ring on front and an 9 cogs cassette on back. 

All good, now for the test ride after 500 meters I had to stop I could not  see through my sunglasses just like in a car in winter but the damned bike had no demister. After 25km I called it a day I still need my nose and ears for the rest of the trip, however I did buy a wind protector and tested it on Friday it is like a tube of cloth just pull it over the head then pull part up to the mouth nose or eyes, it appears to work but maybe it was just a better day, I rode over 50 km and I am ready to start.

On my test ride the snow started to melt.
Not strictly to plan- I allocated 7 days for Donaueschingen to buy the bike and dispatch my suitcase to Budapest, unfortunately the website for bike shops had no English version so I could not be sure to find the bike I wanted but all 3 main shops are very good (it seems so far at least) so I did not have to go to Freiburg or Strasbourg. I could have saved 2 days expenses if I just known.

Religion and
Government co-exist in a small town.
Sunday is a really fantastic spring day, all the outdoor restaurants and cake shops are full. This morning I visited Triberg a lovely small town with Germany's highest waterfall just 2-3 hundred meters from the town center, the water falls 160meters over 7 cascades, there is plenty to see and do for all. The Black Forrest occupies 11 000 square km. and anyone staying in registered accommodation in the more than 145 communities can get a " KONUS" card ( www.blackforest-tourism.com/info/konus ) giving free rail and bus transport and discounts on many other services it can save 100's of Euros and only takes 5 minutes at the hotel reception.

Souvenir shops near the waterfalls. 
Today is Monday the fantastic sprig day of Sunday is only a memory, it is raining non stop the temperature moves between 3-6 degrees and to top it of today is the 1st of May a P/H, Sunday all the shops were shut, today the same again, I had to pay 3 Euros for a half liter of water in a cake shop Saturday it was 75 cent for a liter in the supermarket.


Best wishes to all     Tom.  



A friendly squirrel.