Sept. 12: Zürich to Donaueschingen
The plane journey to Zurich went off sans a hitch. Our boxed bicycles arrived exactly at the same time as we did and we were set to ride out of the airport in jig time. Now, if only we had been able to convince the train ticket lady that yes, we CAN take our bikes on the trains all the way to Donaueschingen, Germany where our trail begins. The book says so! After being derided (no pun intended), along with all the OTHER people who "think they can snap their fingers" and ride the train across the border, we finally purchased train fares to at least get TO the German border! Upon arriving at the border, finding trains to Donaueschingen appeared to be no problem......we're thinking the agent in Zurich would insist that we may be the only people ever to have managed it!! (Not, I'm sure!)
So we are in a pretty little hotel in Donaueschingen where we will either wait out the rain or ride out the rain. We'll decide tomorrow. The temp is 15C, but we are prepared. Now for some Schweinebraten und Rotkol.
|September 12, 2014
Sept 13: Donaueschingen to Beuron - 61 kms
It may not seem far to seasoned cyclists, but with scenery to drink in, cheese to sample, beer to quaff and hills to scale, 61 kilometres took us to Happy Hour under perfect skies. Today's bike trail offered up breathtaking moments, whether hugging the Danube or touring through corn fields. Now, in a hotel furnished with serious furniture and superb dinners fortifying our mortal frames, we are nestling under feather ticks and open windows, dreaming of what tomorrow will bring.
Quote of the day: "The best part of this stop is Ed is buying my beer." (A.k.a. Ed loses a bet.)
|September 13, 2014
Sept. 14: Beuron to Ennetach - 40 kms
Things are getting interesting. Day 2 of steady cycling took us to Mengen where we encountered our first clearly advertised Zimmerfrei. After a brief conversation with Otto, the Wirt, who could speak English and had the semblance of everyone's favourite uncle, it seemed right to take him up on his offer of 42 Euros per room. Otto has quite a story, having morphed from being a baker who tired of the endless round of money-making into a social worker who masterminded, among a host of other things, a trip to New York with 15 people in wheelchairs. Otto himself has a marked handicap and requires a cane (or his riding mower) to get around. He speaks of meeting Vice President Hubert Humphrey and befriending Ivan Rebroff. If you would have heard Otto sing along with Ed while he jazzed up Amazing Grace on the out-of-tune piano, you would have believed it. After a typical German continental major breakfast, we bid Mengen "auf wiedersehn" and wended our way north east on the third leg of our trip.
|September 14, 2014
Sept. 15: Ennetach to Ehingen - 60 kms
Day 3 afforded us sixty kilometres of green fields, medieval villages, tempting apple orchards and a few aorta-challenging steep climbs. The book mentions cyclists having "come to grief" at a few of these sudden turns; luckily we are with the seasoned Rudy and Sue who are forever intuitive. The evening found us at the threshold of the Gasthof Sonne in Ehingen. The overly enthusiastic owner talked himself into giving us a deal (and schnapps, which he calls his "special antibiotic"), and the usual ritual ensued. Unpack and park the bikes. Local beer on tap at the neighbourhood nook. Then showers and dinner, this time at a restaurant named “Amadeus” where, ironically, Rudy finally gets a fine hamburger! In our beds by 10:00. Too bad about the church bells set to wake the dead on the quarter of every blinking hour!!
Did I mention the card game where the girls trounced the guys? Oh yeah.
|September 15, 2014
Sept. 16: Ehingen to Günzburg - 57 kms
Day 4 starts with a wild goose chase to look for a bike shop. Not exactly around every corner as the book promises. We find one in Ulm and Ed has his pedals replaced and other odds and ends tightened up. While lunch at IKEA hardly matches up with a ride through a twelfth century city, that's what we did! Rudy and Ed rhapsodized for hours about the Swedish meatballs. Still, one can't be in Ulm and not visit the Muenster Dome, the highest church tower in the world. We decided against climbing the 768 steps to the top. Ulm also claims Albert Einstein as one its famous sons. Many kilometres of beautiful paths along the Donau later (and a few tricky passages through busy intersections) we arrive in the pretty town of Günzburg. It's 6:00 which means it's late. Not much by way of accommodation to chose from, so we settle on a "suite". This means two of us get a double bed and two get bunk beds.
This is where we leave you, and love you!
Please, no church bells tonight!
Millie for both @218 kms.
|September 16, 2014
Sept. 17: Günzburg to Donauwörth – 68 kms
|September 17, 2014
Sept. 18: Donauwörth to Ingolstadt – 61 kms
In honour of same, Ed hoisted at least TWO Pils enroute today's 68 clicks, and I am planning on toasting you if we ever find dinner tonight.
We have completed Day 5 of our bicycle trip, arriving in Ingolstadt at 5:00 only to learn that the hotels are filled to the brim with festival goers. The festival begins tomorrow, too bad for us, and we are making the best of accommodations on the wrong side of the tracks, also too bad for us! (A pox on all the hoteliers who shouted at us for thinking that we would ever find rooms in this busiest-of-all-places-in-the-entire-world today!)
Still, there's lots of reason to laugh, live and learn. What else is there?!
Happy Happy Birthday to a wonderful person and kindred spirit, if we may say so.
We love you more than all the hotels in Ingolstadt!
Millie and Ed
|September 18, 2014
Sept. 19: Ingolstadt to Bad Abbach – 59 kms
|September 19, 2014
||Bad Abbach, Germany
||Hotel-Café-Rathaus Fam. Manglkammer
Sept. 20: Bad Abbach to Wörth an der Donau (Gasthof Butz) – 46 kms
In my attempt to cut and paste bits and pieces of journaling from the last four days, I have inadvertently deleted the summary in its entirety! Maybe it's as well. "Too many notes", as Emperor Joseph is said to have levelled at Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro". Ha, well ours is hardly an opera. All the music would sound the same. But it would be beautiful with only some dissonance. Sunshine, cornfields, potato crops, crossroads, uphill, downhill, the Danube either in easy view or never far away. Our accommodations have ranged from splendid to not-so-much, but the food has been superb. A little rich, but superb. Especially the venison.
Tonight we are tucked into the pretty village of Wörth, approximately 500 kms into our journey. I say "approximately" because we have uncovered an Abkürtzung here and there that has shortened the path without compromising the charm. It would appear that we have gained a day, according to "the book". We spent a good portion of today in Regensburg under an umbrella due to a bit of rain, which afforded a chance to visit the Dom St. Peter that dates back to the 8th Century. While that alone should give one pause, what will stick with me is the organ playing at the very time we were in the cathedral. Staggering. The rain was short lived which meant we were back on the trail by early afternoon. Our second notable adventure of the day saw us at Walhalla, a most peculiar construction modelled after the Parthenon in Athens and housing busts of famous personalities from German history. Not sure if it was worth the 350-odd steps, but there we were.
As for the cycling experience itself.....thanks for asking. Subjectively speaking, yes our behinds are smarting on occasion, the gravel paths have tested our wheels, a few downgrades have been crazy for this prairie girl, riding atop the dikes (don't look down) hasn't always been an option, nor has walking up steep climbs. But the exhilaration is ever present, the German people are helpful (even escorting us to our destination or back to the Donau Radweg) and drivers here are kind and accommodating to a fault.
And generally, the bike path is flat-out perfection.
Tomorrow is Sunday. Among our little group there is talk of a day of rest, as it should be, possibly in Straubing. According to "Virtual Tourist" there are 10 things to do in Straubing. Or maybe just one. That would be good, too.
We hope things are well in your corner; always love to hear from you.
|September 20, 2014
||Wörth an der Donau, Germany
Sept. 21: Wörth an der Donau to Straubing - 28 kms
- finished cycling by 11:00 to take our anticipated day of rest
- too much meandering to find accommodation, finally coming back to one of our first “tries”, just like when you buy shoes
- apple festival in the market square
- our second night of cards. The girls not so lucky this time.
- a healthy walk to a restaurant, good thing because we spring for the ubiquitous Schweinebraten
- gorgeous lighting at night, check out Rudy’s photos.
|September 21, 2014
Sept. 22: Straubing to Niederalteich – 44 kms
Accommodations found in a boarding school, for the love! But really great, mostly we have the whole floor to ourselves. And wifi that works in our rooms, hallelujah.
Dinner in the Old Kloster:
- what a remarkable setting, sure to be remembered as one of our favourites
- long conversation with the owner who spoke perfect English. Stories about the flood. Stories about himself.
- The best ever aperitif – Johannesberen: worth going back for.
|September 22, 2014
||Bildungshaus Landvolkshochschule St Gunther
Sept. 23: Niederalteich to Passau – 47 kms
A chilly evening
Our hotel is not a model of the quintessential German loveliness. Sue’s discerning eye spies that their room that has not been cleaned. Mind you, the view of the Danube form both our rooms is divine. On the other hand, breakfast is total ick, replete with mouldy bread! Really?! Yes.
You might be on the Donau Radweg if:
- there is a laden ripe-apple tree around every corner.
- there is a Biergarten around every corner.
- everywhere you see high water marks, evidence of past floods.
- you eat Schweinebraten every night 'cause you'd never do that at home.
- you make sandwiches for the road with your breakfast supplies.
- the pillows are almost as big as the feather comforters.
- your room is decorated in Early Laundry.
- one of us cannot resist yodelling under every underpass.
- the same one of us chants "Hodie Christus natus" in empty cathedrals.
- you begin to believe you're actually making sense in German.
- the paved cycle paths are better than most highways we know.
- the dogs you encounter have perfect manners.
- the signs make perfect sense.
- And the list goes on...
This is our last day in Germany before crossing the border into Austria. We are in the city of Passau where the rivers Ilz, Inn and our beloved Danube converge to form an even mightier Danube. It is the consensus of the group to stay in Passau until noon when we will join many others in hearing a concert on the largest cathedral organ in the world, located in St. Stephen's Cathedral. It's actually five organs comprised of 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, all of which are connected by a five-manual console. The anticipation is great.
Tomorrow marks two weeks into this incredible journey, and we thank you for following along.
Millie and Ed
|September 23, 2014
Sept. 24: from Passau to Niederanna – 34 kms
Organ concert :Bach's Prelude and Fugue in D, Cesar Franck's Choral No. 3 and the amazing Toccata by Charles-Marie Widor
Easy ride into Austria but against wind
The hills are alive! It all looks like a Sound of Music set.
Beautiful hotel right on the Donau, called Draxler
|September 24, 2014
Sept. 25: Niederanna to Linz – 52 kms
Day dawned foggy and rainy, like so many. We waited for a window and then cycled, mostly free of rain, to Linz. The path was quite perfect and included 2 ferry passages. Ended up at the Park Inn, actually a Radisson hotel, for the love. Not-great food at a way-too-expensive restaurant.
|September 25, 2014
||Park Inn by Radisson
Sept. 26: Linz to Grein – 56 kms
We used to call days like this "trüb".... Generally grey and somewhat damp. Still, we work up enough of a sweat to feel warm from the inside out. Met the Australians, in their seventies. Took a few unnecessary turns.
|September 26, 2014
||Hotel Pension Martha - Garni
Sept. 27: Grein to Krems an der Donau – 90 kms
We're told that we are now in one of the most pleasant stretches in the entire route. Besides cycling through some of the oldest medieval towns in the Wachau area, we are amid vineyards, peach, plum and apricot orchards. We were as close to the ripe grapes as you can get, so naturally we stopped to taste a few. They were perfect and sweet.
The other distinction that yesterday brought was our first 90 km day. It didn't even seem that far, what with the sights and stops.
Today will be a short day with visits to cathedrals where we hope to hear more grand organ playing.
Krems an der Donau: This was the night of the party dudes, who claimed innocence when confronted the next morning, probably because they didn’t remember a thing!
Great story waiting to be penned about how Sue and Ed managed a half-price deal after the sleepless night. (See “party dudes”.)
|September 27, 2014
||Krems an der Donau, Austria
Sept 28: Krems an der Donau to Tulln – 44 kms
Beautiful sunny day.
Hugging the Donau
Stopped for coffee and apfelstrude
- introduced to sturm
- the traditional dress is everywhere, a fellow at the pub explains that there is a resurgence of this garb in Austria
Stayed in a thankfully quiet hotel called Adlerbräu.
|September 28, 2014
||Gasthof zum schwarzen adler
Sept. 29: Tulln to Vienna – 41 kms
City riding....watch out! Right to Stefansplatz. Finding a hotel was a bit of a shocker ....big prices.
Ed and I spent the evening with Elizabeth! Great to catch up.
|September 29, 2014
||Meininger Hotel Vienna Downtown Sissi
Sept. 30: Vienna
Walked to the Volksoperhaus to buy tickets for “Eine Nacht in Venedig”. Rode the ring road; this is not Miller time! Ed and Millie didn't get to Schönbrunn, sniff. Organ concert, such as it was. Absolutely delightful opera.
|September 30, 2014
||Meininger Hotel Vienna Downtown Sissi
Oct. 1: Vienna to Hainburg – 51 kms
Leaving Vienna was amazing, as Rudy led the way through a beautifully negotiable wide avenue, originally built that way so the emperor could sail through it with his entourage.
This led to a massive bridge across the Donau. It all seemed so effortless.
We arrive in Hainburg at “Die Drei Raben”.
Hainburg carries the distinction of having been the home of Joseph Haydn as an unhappy child living/studying here. Ed and I walk through the town, wonderful walls and gates.
Crazy card game amid too much wine and raucous laughter, terrific fun. Experience a true Heurigen, where we eat a board FULL of local meats (like blood sausage and head cheese) cheese, pickles, bread.
|October 1, 2014
||Gasthof zu den 3 Raben
Oct. 2: Hainburg to Moson-Magyarovar – 50 kms
Easy ride to Bratislava, gorgeous inner city, most picture-friendly. Spend moments only in Slovakia, it seems. We are reminded of Romania.
The big beer is 1 Euro! (also like Romania)
So much water under the bridge...
The pages that could be written will either have to wait or go by the way. Meantime, a few notes to cycle you through our travels since last time:
- First of all, we're either becoming more stoic or we're getting stronger. Maybe both.
- Now, 22 days and 1000 kms into our odyssey, we seem to have traversed every possible surface and marvelled at countless landscapes. Not long ago 40 kms seemed daunting; now 60 and even 90 are easily manageable and Millie mostly stays in 3rd gear, even uphill. She has also learned to STAND while pedalling uphill, a task impossible heretofore. (..always wanted to use that word...)
- Around us the trees are still mostly green, although leaves and chestnuts crunching under our tires announce that fall has arrived.
- We have indulged in the necessary Austrian Apfelstrudel and sipped on Sturm, a domestic little number that reminds us of Ed's wine before it's hardly ready for bottling "but-let's-try-it-anyway". We were surprised, and at times amused, to see that Austrians are entertaining a return to their traditional garb....lederhosen and dirndls....especially as waiters, hosts and during weekend activities.
- We have cycled the ring road of old Vienna, avoiding everything in our path, and taken in a Strauss operetta in German, thankful for the subtitles so we could chuckle along with the locals. We left Vienna in Wednesday morning's mist and, thanks to Rudy's ausgezeichnete navigational bent, made an easy exit out of the largest city we had yet to navigate.
- Last night's hotel in Hainburg just happened to be situated across from the house where Joseph Haydn spent his childhood.
- Today we rode into Bratislava. Our path through Slovakia was perfect but short-lived and tonight we are nestled in a lovely Hungarian town called Moson-Magyarovar. Try saying that without tripping over your tongue! For the first time we are away from Euros and our calculators are busy trying to solve the "wheel barrow" amounts known as florints. Everything costs thousands of florints.
- For most of our dear readers it is mid-day. But our foam mattresses and humongous pillows are beckoning and we bid you a fond "jó éjszakát" until next time.
Love you all,
Millie for both
|October 2, 2014
||Feszek Fogado - Pension Nest
Oct. 3: Friday, MorosMagyar to Babolna – 68 kms
Mostly riding on roads now, some quite awful and even scary. This area is known for its Arabian horses.
Finding our hotel.....blundering into the Imperial Hotel which miraculously had the key we needed to get into the Park Inn way down the road, almost out of town.
Back to try finding Supper, it's a cafe that serves pizza. Tonight they have two pizzas left, one salami, one ham. Busy week!
|October 3, 2014
Oct 4: Babolna to Estergom – 71 kms
Mid day we happened upon a canoe rally of some kind, with excellent bean soup for lunch! The hotel we have reserved was way out of town so we found a Panzió closer to the centre. Wine festival on the bridge.
Supper at a cozy restaurant. Goulash not as good as it was in Austria.
|October 4, 2014
Oct 5: Estergom to Szentendre – 61 kms
We take a wrong turn. Too many ferries.
Rudy gets locked in the ladies bathroom, we miss the ferry. Stuart McLean, where are you?
Late getting it into Szentendre but score a great Panzió on the riverfront. Another delicious supper. For breakfast we find paper baked into the pastry. Nice. A morning walk through the old town, and then we’re on our way.
|October 5, 2014
||Corner Panzió Hotel
Oct 6: Szentendre to Budapest – 25 kms
Final everything, including a morning beer. Sniff.
Hotel Medosz, decorated in early communist era, but we like it. Who needs more space than accommodates 4 people with 4 beers anyway.
|October 6, 2014
Oct 7: Budapest
Fabulous walking tour that included the history of Hungary and many iconic monuments to its past.
Inside the elegant opera house.
|October 7, 2014
Oct 8: Budapest. Happy Anniversary to the Nikkels
Ed and Rudy take one last spin in their bikes before packing them up. Sue and Millie try shopping. Where are the cool shops? Walking tour through the Jewish quarter. Sobering. Back at the hotel, we launch a spirited conversation about what each of us will take back from our trip together. Upshot is pretty much thumbs-up.
The last supper takes place at a hip, loud joint.
|October 8, 2014
Oct 9: Homeward Bound