Cycling Down the Danube (3)
Much further down the Danube
In the post Down the Danube (2) I had hopped on a boat so now I could not say I had cycled from Linz to Vienna. I felt I had cheated myself by taking the boat so decided to cycle back upstream and cover ground under my own steam this time. The area through which the path travels from Spitz to Krems is one of the most beautiful of the whole Danube Valley and I was not going to miss it. The itinerary had a built in rest day staying at Krems so I decided that I’d make the effort and explore both sides of the Danube
I cycled the 6km back to the delightful Durnstein through the vineyards and orchards. The vines were beginning to change to golds and reds and the boughs in the orchards were heavy with fruit. At Durnstein I spent some time exploring the cobbled streets and sampling the apricot curd for which the region is rightly famous for – it’s great with dark chocolate I discovered. There was another Radfähre or cycle ferry at Durnstein so I crossed to the other bank where the best photographs of the town are taken. I took a few pictures and then peddled through wooded slopes to Mitterarnsdorf opposite Spitz where I caught the car ferry. The current here is strong and the the car ferry across is attached to cables to prevent it drifting on its chains too far down stream.
Have you traveled down the Danube? If so what mode of transport did you use? Have you followed any of the other Great Rivers of Europe?
Having completed the section of river I had skipped the previous day I was now ready to head back to Krems; this time using peddle power. Before that though I deserved a late lunch. Strand Cafe, quite literally on the bank of the Danube, came recommended and they included a local dessert of that apricot curd I had discovered in Durnstein. It consisted of crepes filled with the curd and were covered with lashings of chocolate sauce and cream. To think I could so easily have missed out on this indulgence had I not returned to cycle the part I missed.
After lunch it was time to burn off the calories yet again with a leisurely cycle back along the north side of the river to Krems. It was about this time that I noticed that the river was in fact the blue of that famous waltz. Almost all the way back to Krems the sun was out in a cloudless sky. conditions were right for the Blue Danube.
The following day, as if to signify an end to my Wachau sojourn, started out bleak and damp. Leaving Krems the mountains of the Wachau disappear with the last bluff overlooking the Danube topped by the abbey Stift Göttweig. A visit to the abbey is recommended because of the extensive views of this part of the Danube Valley but as it was a dreary day with mist hanging over the hills I reckoned the view was not worth the effort and contented myself with admiring the abbey from a distance.
Cycling was now mostly along the flood plains of the Danube broken up by a couple of hydro-electric dams and a string of power stations. It was obvious that I was approaching the a more industrialised section of the great river though there were still plenty of farmland, fields, meadows and woods.
One power station was notable because of the absence of power lines leading from it. This is Austria’s billion-Euro monument to the power of the people and the reason the Austrians pay a higher price for their energy. The Tullnerfeld/Zwentendorf Power station was to be Austria’s first nuclear power station. The decision to build it was supported by all three political parties but the project was highly unpopular with the people. The Chancellor called for a popular vote and threw his support behind the “Yes” campaign. He lost. The completed power station was never used.
Vienna was now with in easy reach. After a night in Stockerau I had the option of leaving my bike at a gasthof in Greifenstein and taking the train into Vienna. The day, in sharp contrast to the previous day was bright and crisp; the temperature had plummeted overnight and the wind had picked up; the first snows had fallen on the mountains. Wien, according to the Danauradweg sign, was only 18km from Greifenstein. There was no way, after having cycled
about 250km that I was not going to cycle triumphantly into Vienna especially as that long promised west to east wind was now aiding my efforts with considerable force. Additionally I wanted to use the bike to cycle round Vienna on its many cycle paths taking in as many sights as I could fit in.
By late morning I was sipping coffee and tucking into Kuchen in one of Vienna’s numerous coffee houses reflecting on the last six days and 271km of cycling. There were times when I wondered why I was pushing my way through the wind, the rain and the pain. Even when the elements seemed against me the Danube had thrown up its dramatic scenery. The grey-green Danube under the dark glowering clouds held as much appeal as the Blue Danube when the sun was shining… and the best way to experience both was on a bicycle.
Have you travelled down the Danube? What mode of transport did you use? Have you experienced any of the other Great Rivers of Europe?
Declaration: I travelled as a guest of Donau Reisen who organise cycling tours in several European countries and the Austrian National Tourist Board. As always I retain full editorial control and write from my experience and was not bribed with apfelstrudel or sacher torte.