Biking the Danube – Part 6

Day 5 Bike

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.  –J.F.K.

Weissenkirchen to Tulln    -35.1 Miles

We awoke to another cold and rainy day.  Breakfast wasn’t going to be served until 8:00 AM, so there was no reason to get up extra early.  The breakfast proved to be worth the wait as it was one of the nicer ones we’ve enjoyed so far.

All of the breakfasts have been more or less continental style with a selection of cereals, yogurt, breads, lunchmeat, cheese, juice…etc.  Some places have more variety, adding eggs or bacon/sausages.

We hoped that the weather would lighten up as the day wore on, but if it wasn’t going to –we were happy to know that we had a much more manageable day mileage-wise.

QUACK!

QUACK!

Our first task of the day when we were ready to leave was getting our water/snacks sorted for the day at the grocery store around the corner.  It was closed.  We thought –that’s odd, the sign said it opened at 7 AM.  We had passed a bakery on the way to dinner last night and talked about stopping in there on our way by this morning (having checked the opening time) and when we got there, it was closed too.  As we rode on during the day we noticed that nothing was open –and assumed (correctly) that it was some sort of holiday day in Austria.  Later I checked the internet and it said it was Ascension Day.  Luckily we did have one bottle of water left over from the day before for back up.

The first part of the day was really nice –except for the pouring rain.   We were riding along narrow side streets and bike paths that provided a continuous panorama of views –from vineyards… to wineries… to quaint villages… to castles peeking out here and there through the mists.  Let’s not forget the river too!

One of the first towns after Weissenkirchen was Durnstein, which immediately piqued my interest.

A look back toward Weissenkirchen

A look back toward Weissenkirchen from Durnstein.

Durnstein is famous for, among other things, as the place where Richard the Lionhart was held captive in the winter of 1192-93.  The place where he was held is now a ruins.

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A glimpse of the ruins?

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As we continued through, our route put us on a narrow, cobblestone street that looked to have some really cute stores…something that would be fun to stroll along and peek in windows and maybe go inside most of them too!  As we began to pass along the “main” street we realized that it was completely filled with red umbrellas.  There was a tour group (or two) off of one of the ships …all carrying red umbrellas…and clogging up the road!  Our bikes were equipped with little bells and Mike “parted the red sea” with a continuous  brrrrrng… brrrrrng… brrrrrng!   I just followed behind him looking sheepish as the tourists huddled along both sides as we passed!  In all honesty, if he hadn’t of done that we’d still be back there politely saying…excuse me!  Pardon me!

Confused in Krems.

The next real city after Durnstein was Krems.  Krems was firsts mentioned in history in 995 and is considered Austria’s oldest city.

Outskirts of Krems

Outskirts of Krems

It was a good size city and that was part of the problem.  The written instructions in the guide book were a bit convoluted –especially the part where it said:  “Ignore the Donauradweg signs and….”  We couldn’t figure out exactly at what point we were supposed to do that.  We stopped to check ourselves against the map and were able to pinpoint our location and get an idea of how to proceed, but as we moved on, Mike saw a left-turn bike route sign that I’d missed and so we backtracked and took it.  I was complimenting Mike at first for seeing it and keeping us on track.  After about 10 minutes we pretty much figured out that that was the sign we should have ignored!  At this point, my inner GPS was completely discombobulated.  I was crazy turned around, which is a rare situation for me.  Between the guide book, a separate map of Krems we’d been given by the tour company,  Mike’s certainty that we needed to go “that way”  and me confirming his opinion by asking him to show me his compass on the bike GPS… we got our act together and got back on the road.  It took me several miles to get my inner GPS adjusted to the direction we were going.

We’d had a chance just before all that happened to take a detour to Krems’ old section too –but chose to minimize our time in the elements and take the bypass.  At the end of the day I told Mike that I’d love to go back and have a do-over at Durnstein and Krems.

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Entrance to the older part of the city

The whole point of the weird directions in Krems was that we were going to cross the river again at a power station up ahead and doing that was actually sort of a side route only for people who were crossing.  Riders continuing on the N. bank were routed a bit differently.  It was well-marked once we got through the confusing part in Krems.

It turned out to be a long slog of about 12 miles from Krems to the power station along what was historically the towpath for when barges had to be towed upstream by horses and mules.  I think many of the paved trails along the river originally had their start as towpaths.   There wasn’t a whole lot to see, but the good news was that it didn’t rain for a while.  🙂

By the time we arrived at the Altenworth dam we’d gone 25 miles and it felt like 50 to me today.  I don’t know if it was because it was the second day of rain (mentally draining) or the long miles the day before, but I was feeling a bit ready to arrive at the end of our day already.

View from the dam

View from the dam

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There was a definite roar as we passed the open dam gates

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A look back

Just after the dam we passed an area that looked like it was being set up for a big outdoor concert or something. We dubbed it Woodstock. Lots of people setting up campsites and a big stage being prepared.  Just past the stage, a restaurant miraculously appeared and we decided to stop for lunch.

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What looks good for lunch?

What looks good for lunch?

After lunch we only had about 10 miles to go and we dug in and got them done.  Tulln is a very old town with Roman beginnings.  This building is the oldest standing building from Roman times in Austria.

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As we rode into town, we enjoyed seeing their really beautiful riverfront park.

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This sculpture/fountain is based on a story from an old German epic/saga. It seems to depict a marriage.

Our hotel was on the far side of town and was only a couple of blocks off the river.

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We checked in and asked where we could leave our bikes.  They had a bike garage in the basement area of the hotel that could be entered through a back door.  We opened the door and it was pitch dark inside, but we could see OK with the door open…so we left it open after we rolled the bikes in so that we could get our bags off and so that Mike could lock the bikes up.

We realized once we were down there that we could get to an elevator to go back up to the lobby without going back outside, so I walked over to the door and was going to shut it, but realized if I did it would be like when they turn out the lights at Mammoth Cave during the tour so you can see how dark it is in a cave.  Complete blackout. I began looking for some sort of light switch.  You have to understand that the light switches here do not resemble ours…they are often a bit odd looking.  I’m such a dork!  In the dim lighting I saw a box next to the door.  There was a symbol of a hand with a pointed finger printed on it with the finger pointing to a button and I thought.. “hmmm maybe this is one of those timer light switches and if I push the button the light will stay on for a few minutes –and that’s enough for us to see what we’re doing and go.”  So I start poking at the button and nothing is happening and I’m just standing there…. POKE… POKE… POKE… and Mike walks up and goes… “What are you doing???”  I said… “Trying to turn on the light.”  He said, “Uh that’s the fire alarm dear!”  OOOOOPS!  Of course I’m not going to live that down.  He has repeatedly asked me since to not turn on any lights around here.

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We had to wait for our luggage again, so I took a nap.  By the time we got our luggage and had showers and changed our clothes the rain had stopped and we walked back into town.  Nothing was open because of the holiday …so that was disappointing.  I was able to get some more pictures of some of the things we’d seen coming in to town earlier.

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Statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius

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section of old city wall

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Back at the hotel, we had a really great dinner… a sort of chicken cordon bleu with some hash brown patties and some greens too…

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A soup for starters and an amazing dessert of “meringue floating on a layer of egg nog.”  I’m a fussy eater and won’t try anything that looks or sounds weird…and I almost didn’t try the dessert –but it was really good!

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We had asked when we arrived about laundry and were told that the maids were all leaving for the day and laundry wouldn’t be possible.  So we improvised!  There was a towel warmer in the bathroom and we hung all of our wet things from the last two days on it like cotton Christmas tree ornaments!  It worked like a charm.

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Categories: The Danube Bike Trail 2014

2 replies

  1. Beautiful photos and story.. I am enjoying this so much.. Loved the layered rock water (fountains?).. Very cool.. Also the statue of what you think was a wedding. Simply beautiful..

  2. I don’t think I would eat anything from Vom Grill. LOL

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