Austria 20th -24th May

The hills were indeed alive. It was like something you would draw as a child. Big, green, sweeping hills with a token house and the sun in the corner. We didn’t know what to expect from Austria. Neither of us had been here before. The clues to crossing the border were the change in beer signs at the bars, and the architecture. The houses instantly changed, they became, well, typically Austrian houses. Alpine like, with big overhanging roofs. Cycling along the river and not on the main road means you don’t see the usual signs to inform you that you are in a new country.

A lot of the riverside paths we wanted to take were closed due to the volume of rain. Big diversions were put in place. There is always a bit of dilemma in these cases. ‘Is it really that bad ahead?’ you ask yourself. ‘Risk it?’ we say to eachother in unison. Once you wheel your bikes round the bollards there’s no turning back. Our experience of this yields mixed outcomes. Today was manageable with the added benefit of a million frogs (I didn’t count them). Their group conversation was a beautiful symphony of rivets (Hannah’s words, not mine). It was getting late and it was time to make the call. Try and find a campsite or wild camp. We chose the latter as the map showed a lot of green areas along the river. Three hours later and getting dark we chose our spot. It was not ideal. The green areas on the map turned out to be incredibly steep forest areas that not even hikeable let alone cyclable. We laid out our sleeping bags in the long grass (never ideal, my Brother Craig knows only too well about camping in long grass, ticks!). As we opened up our kitchen and started the stove, the ants and flies came in droves. This was not going to work. We packed up and rode in the dark in search of a) a better spot, b) a camp site or c) last resort, a hotel. We were gifted only a kilometre later with a farmhouse and a camping sign. The cutest little spot next to the house was a god send. We cooked up in the dark and under stars. And relax…

The bridge we were to cross the next morning was non-existent. The owner of the farmhouse took us across in his boat and sold us a shot of his homemade walnut liqueur, it sat nicely on our porridge filled bellies. I told Hannah that I dreamt that a peacock was screaming in my ear in the night before. It was no dream apparently. The scenery in these parts has blown us away. You could be in New Zealand. The river cuts through towering forests. We look around mouths open. Austria by bike or boat along the Danube is highly recommended. Hannah was finding it harder to enjoy the surroundings as she had developed a pain in her thigh which was only getting worse. She’d had the same problem before on a previous tour and was worrying about the repercussions for the rest of the trip ahead. We stopped early at the next campsite we found which ended up being one of our favourites to date. It was a wake-boarding lake and we enjoyed watching the skills of the locals as we caught up on some admin and serviced the bikes in to the early evening. As the sun set over the lake we were appreciative of the break that was forced upon us. We had yet to take a day off the bikes, maybe the continuous pedalling was taking it’s toll…

The following day had it’s ups and downs. The stunning views continued as we hugged the river through more natural beauty and picturesque villages. Hannah’s thigh however was getting worse. We were seriously thinking that a couple of days off may be in order. Saw our first dead snake on the path. Hannah’s enthusiasm for wild camping was now as dead as the snake. We rode through beautiful vineyards and tried to scope out a spot to hide for the night. We stumbled across a restaurant selling wine from the neighbouring vineyards. My Mum had given us some money on the day we left with instructions to spend it on a bottle of wine on the ferry from Dover. We were so tired on the ferry we thought it would be wasted. Here was the perfect moment. Mum would have agreed. The wine was outstanding and we stayed a lot longer than anticipated. I rode behind Hannah, laughing as she zig-zagged her way on and off the path for the next few kilometres to our campsite for the night. I told her this was not the time to try and ride no-handed, too late, she crashed in to some vines. The campsite was too crowded for our liking, but we’d bought a bottle of wine from the vineyard attached to the restaurant, situation saved.

Cities are not fun on our big heavy touring bikes. You can’t weave through traffic, you can’t quickly change direction, you don’t really know where you’re going, and you can’t really leave your bikes for a wander around. Vienna was a city we both wanted to see but like most big cities they warrant a lot of time to get to a real feel for. I’m not really a fan of going to big cities for the weekend as I never really feel like I have properly seen it. Big cities, for me, need to be lived in to be understood. Not having 6 months to hand, we rode through for a glance. On the way in to the city we noticed a naturist area on the banks of the river. I love naturists. ‘Why not!’ is my opinion. We again hunted out a wild camping spot as we rode through farmland away from the river. We were aiming for a national park as figured the land would be public and easier to sleep in. Two attempts failed. The first due to swathes of lakeside mosquitos. The second due to a nearby structure that looked like a bomb. It wasn’t a bomb, obviously. But we didn’t know what it was and our instincts had taken over. So we ran away as if it were about to explode…

We were awoken by the sunrise as we lay in our sleeping bags in a national park car park. We had failed to find the idyllic spot the night before so settled for a hidden patch of grass on the edge of a big concreted area. It’s not all glamour this lark…

5 thoughts on “Austria 20th -24th May

    1. We find it very efficient. We charge our mobiles phones in a few hours and it works great charging bike lights too. We also have a dynamo on the front that powers a power bank. Would recommend both!

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      1. Hi Stephen, no not too heavy in the grand scheme of things and well worth the weight. I’d it’s the weight of a hardback book. Have a look on Amazon, the brand we have is called ‘portapow’ and it’s a 15w 3 x foldable panel. Hope this helps!

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  1. Great blog guys, and the photographs really make it come alive. You’ve really had bad luck with the weather in Europe this year – chin up, it can only get better (hopefully). Love to you both. Clive and Maggie

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