Clear skies and cold nights – cycling the Danube
13 October, 2010 7 Comments
We’re currently in Vienna and since the last post we’ve been enjoying cycling down the Danube, although mostly into a hefty headwind. Bex has become a master of riding 3 inches from my rear wheel – apparently I create a nice big wind shadow. I can hear cries of “it’s SO easy back here” as I’m grinding the pedals into a force 5 gale.
We had a great day off in Passau (where we first joined the Danube) and we were greeted by glorious sun from the minute we arrived. It was hot enough to rival an English summer’s day, not bad for October! Our state of the art, high tech expedition thermometer (purchased from a supermarket for €2.99) nearly exploded when we put it in direct sunlight.
Whilst in Passau we were lucky enough to stay in an amazing flat belonging to Max and Annika, friends of a friend of a friend. Max runs MyMuesli where you can create your own custom-mixed organic cereal online. They also have a small store in Passau and after a couple of visits to taste test, I can confirm it is excellent stuff. Cereal is something we’ve been missing (as we can’t keep milk fresh), so it was a double bonus.
With our batteries recharged (it’s funny how just one day off and a clothes wash can leave you feeling like new) we set off down the Danube, which we planned to follow for the next 700km or so. As we crossed the border into Austria, country number six, it felt like the sort of cycling that we needed back at the beginning of our journey to patch up any holes in either of our equally intensive (cough) pre trip training regimes – short days, flat roads and good weather. Just before arriving in Vienna we had 5 days in a row without seeing a cloud!
We’ve been mostly staying in campsites whilst on the Danube – there are loads on this popular cycling route, and they’re quiet and cheap as it’s out of season. Whilst looking for a campsite one evening an old man picking apples pointed towards what looked like a farmhouse. Apparently their garden was the campsite, although there were no signs to show it. Either way we were happy, and even more so when he gave us some dodgy home brewed cider to sample. His English was poor and our German is even worse so conversation was a challenge, but he seemed impressed when he found out that we’d cycled all the way from London.
The following evening in the next town we were directed to a rowing club – for a small fee we could sleep on the mattresses in the club house, use the showers and kitchen, and even help ourselves to the bar. The lady then left us with the keys to the boathouse and instructions to leave our money on the side in the morning.
The nights are getting colder as autumn arrives – it was below freezing on clear nights in Austria and we could see our breath inside the tent as ice formed on the outside. Fortunately we were nice and warm inside our sleeping bags, although it did make the night time toilet trip swifter than usual.
Bex’s knees have recovered now and we’ve cycled every kilometre together since leaving Munich a few weeks ago. When Bex started cycling again I thought it would be nice if she had the compass and map (we only have one to save money). Unfortunately Bex didn’t fill me with confidence when she took a confused look at the compass and said “what does the red pointy bit mean? Does that show the way we’re going?” “Only if we’re heading north” I replied, trying to remain calm. After a quick compass 101 lesson we were good to go.
Whilst on the subject of navigational issues, our low point so far came when we decided, over breakfast on a village bench, to take a handy scenic shortcut through a forest. Three hours later, after walking our bikes through a shallow river twice, we returned to the same bench for lunch. Horrific for morale and a few toys were promptly ejected from my pram. We stuck to roads for the rest of the day.
After a rest day or two here in Vienna we’ll continue to follow the Danube to Budapest. Now if the wind could just swing round a bit…