July 11 - 13: Passau - Linz

A short ride to Engelhartszell

Today we did a ride of about 24 kilometers, we took it very slowly and arrived around noon, which was just a little bit more time than I would have wanted to spend here. But going all the way to Schloegen would probably have been too far. Tomorrow we're headed to Aschach which is past Schoegen and will be about a 42 k ride.

Getting out of Passau was a little stressful - little narrow cobblestone streets, lots of pedestrians. But we finally made it out to the bike trail. It's all paved now, not gravel like the Inn bike path. The first stretch seemed to be a little dead - lots of abandoned looking businesses. But then it picked up. Many business are advertising to the cyclists, and there's e-bike charging stations in some places as well.

We met a Belgian couple along the way - they had rented bikes and hotel rooms as part of a package, like a self-guided tour. They were very friendly, and we chatted in English. They're really the first bikers I've talked to - I thought I'd e talking with bikers all the time, but what happens is that they either pass us, or they're coming in the opposite direction.

We went past the dam at Jochenstein, which, finally, was one that was not under construction and could be ridden on. It was very impressive looking, and then right in the middle of the damn, as you walk across it, you're in Germany.

Here's a few photos from the ride.

One of the abandoned businesses
Here the bike trail is RIGHT on the Danube
A strange staircase structure on the other side of the river
The dam at Jochenstein

Once we got in town, we checked in (a little bed and no breakfast, right off the main road, large room, found it on booking.com).

Very close by there was FINALLY a little grocery store - a Spar branch - where we could buy a few things. We put together a simple picnic lunch, including a whole kilo of apricots, and sat by the river and ate, and then we called my mom, and Ann and Ken. From now on, we'll be in Austria all the time, and so I should have internet everywhere, not just at hotels. After a rest in the room we took a walk around town - there's a trappist Abbey, we went there and one of them was doing a talk for a riverboat tour group that we listened to (well, I did, Peter is engrossed in his book).

Lunchtime on the river
These apricots were about half gone very quickly
A ferry crosses the river here regularly
The local grocery - pretty well-stocked, this time
An interesting-looking cantilevered structure off a garage
The local abbey - 5 monks are left
Relics of a saint
And crazily, in the greenhouse, they had pot growing. Or was it hemp? It smelled like pot.

In the town of Aschach

For breakfast this morning - no breakfast buffet! That was a first, this trip - the lady who runs this particular private room (Anita's Zimmer) didn't offer it. Luckily there was a Spar (the grocery store) nearby, where I bought some rolls, bananas, yogurt, and a poppyseed pastry. We went to the playground opposite our room, which had a covered picnic area, and had a decent breakfast.

The ideal side of the Danube to be on was the north side - the opposite of where we were. Here on the south side, the trail went up a long hill, and also went right next to a somewhat busy road for a long stretch. But after that it was fine - a nice wide paved trail (road), with a very occasional car on it, for people that live right off it. We didn't hit any gravel sections at all, and apparently there are almost none, here on the Danube bike trail. On the Inn bike trail, it's about 80% gravel. It really slows you down, too - it was very noticable, how much faster we went on the paved trail.

There's also much, much more bike traffic. It's not annoyingly crowded or anything, but there are at least 10 times as many bikers on this trail as there were on the Inn bike trail. That means there's more opportunities to talk to people as well. I talked to Scottish couple who were here with folding bikes, and going a bit faster than we were (which isn't saying much). I also spoke to a Chinese biker, living in Paris, but taking a really long bike ride, and camping all the time. And he said he mostly does wild camping, i.e. not in campgrounds. So, no facilities or anything.

Overall, it was a very pleasant day. I copied a bunch of song lyrics to my phone, which I can attach to my handlebars with a silicone holder, and belted out a few songs when nobody was around.

It was supposed to rain, but it ended up raining only after we'd been in the hotel a few hours - around 4 or so. It was actually kind of cozy, sitting in the hotel room and watching the rain and thunder outside.

Most evenings, after we've gotten to our hotel for the night, I wash out a few items of clothing in the sink. That's the only way that we can travel as lightly as we do - by continually doing laundry. It doesn't take me very long, and Peter helps with the wringing out, which is the most strenuous. I carefully chose all our clothes for this trip, and one of the factors was the "quick-dry" ability. The long-sleeve one that I bike in most days - seems like it only takes about 30 minutes to dry.

I heard from my uncle in Linz today. We've exchanged emails, and then I reached him on the phone - the first time we've talked in 30 years, probably.

He's headed down to Kaernten today, and will be back on Sunday, when we'll hopefully see him and the family. But we arrive in Linz tomorrow - maybe we'll check out the science museum, since it's supposed to be raining all day long.

Often when I look up into the hills alongside the river, I see a castle
Beautiful smooth paved bike trail
Villa along the river - probably gets flooded frequently
Another castle
Taking the ferry across the Danube at Schloegen
Swans were everywhere
This stone table/chair reminds me of the Lord of the Rings
Some campgrounds have these interesting round structures, for people to stay in
The dam just above Aschach
In our hotel room in Aschach
Most comfortable mattress yet
Interesting use of the traditional Lederhosen

A rainy ride to Linz, the hip capital of Upper Austria

As forecast, today was a very rainy day - and supposed to be rainy all day long, so it's not like we could have timed our bike ride for the dry part of the day. I chatted this morning with a friendly older gentleman at the breakfast buffet, he was also biking to Vienna. His plan was to take the boat from Aschach to Linz, and avoid the rain.

After thinking about it, checking the forecast, checking the ferry schedule, I figured that Peter and I could do one day of biking through the rain, especially on a short stretch (it's about 27 k to Linz). Also, we would have to wait till 12.40 to catch the ferry, that was another factor. So, we went up to the room, packed everything up water-tight (the dry bags are already water tight, and I put everything in our day packs into plastic garbage bags). Peter and I both have nylon jackets, but they're not water-proof, so we got wet. It was a little chilly, to be biking in the rain, but I figured that with a decent hotel at the end of the ride, it wouldn't be so bad.

And towards the end of the ride it was raining a lot less, so our clothing (which is all very quick-drying) was almost dry when we got into the hotel room.

The ride itself was very pleasant, mostly very quiet along the Danube, with just some fishermen out. Wish I'd gotten some photos of them - they have enormous umbrellas - like 10 feet wide - and multiple fishing poles going at the same time. There was almost NOBODY else biking at all, a big difference to what it was like yesterday. Peter was behind me the whole time, singing his songs (Mr Blue Sky, ironically) and I was singing my songs (a big medley).

The signage on the bike trail has been absolutely top-notch - there's no possible confusion as to where we need to go. I didn't need to use my mapping app almost at all. And once when I did have my phone out, looking at where we were on the map, a lady stopped her car right away to ask if we needed directions.

A rainy ride
A memorial to handicapped people who were executed by the Nazis, their ashes scattered here
Peter, across the river from the castle at Ottensheim
Waiting for a ferry, Peter made friends with a cat
We just missed the ferry, and it took a LONG time for the ferryman to come back over and pick us up. Finally another car came to be ferried over, and he came back to our side.

My first impression of Linz was similar to Passau - it's very hip and cool, almost more so than Passau. People have funky hairstyles, they have interesting eyeglass frames, etc. Also lots of quirky, unique shops.

This is the bike storage area for our hotel. It must be VERY popular with large bike tour groups
Electric scooters have arrived here, too
The cathedral in Linz - absolutely huge

We're back in the hotel room from our earlier stroll around town. The plan was to rest up a little, then go out again, but the rain has started up so I think we may be in for the night. At least we have a view of the cathedral from our room...

the rain stopped and we did ended up walking around town a bit this evening. The roads are starting to make sense now, we got some ice cream for Peter, and walked by my uncle's house - it's not very far away. On the way home, we heard a concert (taking place just outside the cathedral) and listened for a while, along with many others.

Some of the cafes have monster big umbrellas here
People listening to the concert