We crossed the border in to Austria on Saturday 9th August and were pleased that with the Sat Nav set to ‘no toll roads’ we could cross the country without the need of a Vignette. (needed for motorways and expressways) Taking the ‘slow roads’ gave us plenty of time to admire the Austrian towns and countryside. As mentioned in our last post we reached the Mondsee by lunchtime; a beautiful place to swim and relax in the sun. Although we managed to find a small space to park for the night, places were very few and far between. Over 90% of the lakeside is privately owned. There are ‘private lakeside gardens’ everywhere, plenty not even near a house. Most parking places along the lake did not allow parking between 8pm and 8am and many said no motorhomes at all! No camping or fires were allowed either! However we were encouraged to see the Austrians happily ignoring the signs!
On Sunday after a morning swim, 2 paces from our front door! :), we followed the Sat Nav mystery tour through Austria, via the Altersee (with many more wonderful places to stop) and along the very quiet roads through an empty Wels (Sunday is very definitely a quiet, rest day in Austria!) to Mauthausen (just outside Linz) by the Danube for a lunch break. The Danube has grown a lot bigger since we last saw it. We are now 2110km from the Danube Delta and 670km from its ‘source’ in Donaueschingen.
After a little siesta in the sun we drove the last 20km to Bauernhoff Ziermetzer near Tragwein to meet up with our friends Nick and Silvia, who were staying in a holiday let at the farm. The farmer was happy for us to park for free and finally the weather behaved so we able to enjoy good food and good company outside well into the night.
The farm has a small dairy herd, chickens, and rabbits. The family makes apple juice and cider from their own apples as well as corn and pear schnapps. The farm has been in the family for 250 years. The farmer gets up at 5.30am to milk the cows before going to work at a local timber yard where he works until 2pm and then it’s back to the farm! The farmer and his wife were both friendly and hospitable. The farmer’s wife even took a picture of Heidi and asked for a tour – ‘kleine aber feine’ was her opinion of Heidi.
On Tuesday after a rainy Monday cycling along the Danube we headed to Linz with our local tour guides Nick and Silvia..
There’s a huge area of free parking overlooking the river at Linz – ideal for us!
We wandered around Linz in the drizzly rain. This summer? really hasn’t been kind to us! Lots of impressive old buildings, most built around a ‘hof’ or courtyard in their centre. I wonder if this stems from the Ottoman’s traditional building style? although there doesn’t seem much need for shade here!
Linz is very ‘arty’. There are loads of galleries and craft shops. There’s also a major art college. After lunch in one of Silvia’s favourite student haunts, we opted for the ‘hoehenrausch’ http://www.hoehenrausch.at , a combination of various walkways, a tower high above the rooftops and various art installations. It was originally supposed to be a temporary thing, but has now been in place for several years. Unfortunately much of the walkway was closed off for repair – reopening 2015 – typical! We did get in cheaply though; courtesy of a friend of Silvia’s working on the desk – ‘student’ (of life) rate. Hehe! Great views over the rooftops (which would’ve looked much nicer in the sunshine!)
We said farewell to Nick, Silvia and the boys and lingered hoping for some sunshine and tried to plan a boat trip back up the Danube and a bike ride back …this never happened. Because of unuseful boat trip timetables, meaning we’d have to spend 2 nights away and the continuing rain and greyness not exactly inspiring us! We spent another day wandering around Linz in the drizzle, eating ice-creams and drinking coffee, trying to soak up the COLD summer vibe, before heading south and east in a desperate attempt to find some sunshine!
We travel through the flat, mainly agricultural, landscape, following the Danube, past Grein and through an attractive section where the valley narrows and becomes more wooded, as far as Ybbs a. d. Donau, where we cross the river above huge locks. As soon as we are away from the busy east west corridor across the country (Innsbruck – Salzburg – Linz – Wien), it is much quieter on the roads as we cross ‘lower Austria’ towards the Neusiedler See on the border with Hungary. We came down out of the hills and it was much drier and warmer with fields of sunflowers and grapevines. That’s better!
We spent several days just outside Morbisch am See enjoying the (mainly) sun, sun sun 🙂 . Unfortunately the lake is surrounded by reeds, miles deep in places, and the only access to the water is via artificial ‘beaches’ that are fenced off and demanding a fee to enter! We took a boat trip and then cycled all around the Austrian bit, which was most of it, ..and a whole lot further than anticipated at 80+ km! Tired legs and bums! Luckily it’s mainly flat and on dedicated tracks through the vines, the sunflowers and the corn fields. Almost back, we stopped for a drink in Rust. Rust is the centre of the wine industry around here and a real tourist draw. Every other place is a wine cellar / ‘hof’ offering a taste of their wares.
Surprise surprise, the next day was a rest day. We spent much of the day ‘chillin” in the sunshine, reading and even doing some washing. There have not been many opportunities to hang washing out in the sun on this trip! We finished the day with a short bike into Morbisch, a nice little place, with plenty of cafe’s and more wine places, for an ice-cream. Well it was our Anniversary – 17 years! We even went and stuck our wheels (bike wheels) into Hungary – an adventure for tomorrow perhaps?…