AUSTRIA

27th APRIL 2011

DAY 26: PASSAU – MAUTHAUSEN (RIVER DONAU)
START: 8:30 – FINISH: 19:00 – DISTANCE: 127 km – RIDE TIME: 7h 05

This morning I unzipped the door of the tent and was surprised to find myself surrounded by thick fog. I packed the tent up and it was soaking wet. The goal for today was Linz and shortly after 8:30 am I was on my way. Not long in to it. I meet two 60 year old Japanese guys who were very interested in the bike. One of them wanted to take my bike for a ride. I politely declined his request and he had to settle for a photo instead. Shortly after that break there was another one for the customary photo as we crossed over the border in to Austria and said goodbye to another country. After 40 km the cycle way

I had been following came to an end and I had to get a small boat to ferry me to the other side. This stretch of the Danube was beautiful. I had a guy cycle pass and then slowed up and wait for me to catch up. He was a student and was cycling 60 km back home after visiting his girlfriend. We ended up riding together and chatting for about 30 km which was nice. At 3 pm I got to Linz. Being a bit early to set up camp I pushed on. Though come 5 pm I had had enough and after spotting a camping sign leaning up against a garage I thought I was in luck. So I parked up and headed into a garden where I found a very hippie looking guy. Asked if I could camp in his yard – he explained the sign was old and that he had sold his camp site 4 years ago. He invited me for a small beer and we got chatting. I asked him what he did expecting his answer to be not much. He said he was a writer and asked him what he was writing about and he replied……..When I was kidnapped…………….and I thought here we go fruit loop. He looked pretty spaced out. He actually had a very interesting story. In 1997, him and 3 others were kidnapped by Columbian rebels as they tried to cross the jungle to Ecuador. They were held captive in the bush for 29 days before the Columbian army attempted rescue. In which his brother and his friend were killed. He got the manuscript for the book and showed me the photos he had secretly taken of the rebels guarding them and the photos of him looking over the body of his brother. His name was Manfred Kehrer and his book will be out soon.

DAY 27: MAUTHAUSEN

Today turned out to be a bit of an unplanned rest day. I decided to stay an extra night when I found out the camp site had free wi-fi, this has been an excellent opportunity to catch up on the blog and skype a few people. I was actually still feeling really tired from the day before. 127 km was a fairly big day and a lot of that was riding into the wind as well.

In the afternoon I went and visited the Mauthausen Memorial which was the site of a concentration camp in World War Two and had a shocking history. A lot of the camp has been preserved. In the evening one of the camp site owners invited me for a beer and said to call in for a coffee in the morning before I left. The owners are great I got a nice cup of coffee and a bottle of Schnapps to take with me and I didn’t get to go before having a breakfast shot of Schnapps. I am drinking more on this trip then I did when I lived in London…………….at least it’s all good cycling fuel

DAY 28 MAUTHAUSEN – ROOSSATZBACH (RIVER DONAU)
START: 8:45 – FINISH: 16:45 – DISTANCE: 115 KM – RIDE TIME: 6h 32

Another very satisfying milestone, as I broke the 2000 km mark. Again some very beautiful stretches along the cycle trail. Just 90 km from Vienna, so should get there in good time tomorrow.

DAY 29: ROSSATZBACH – VIENNA
START: 7:45 – FINISH: 15:45 – DISTANCE: 104 KM – RIDE TIME: 6h 20

This morning the bike felt very heavy and I was struggling to get going. I normally cycle 20 km before I stop…..but after just 10 I was ready for a break. I had great stretches again riding with the Danube on one side and the forest on the other. With no one around. Just a few birds.

Mid-morning I cycled into Tullen and just as I reached the main square I was in time to see them raise a big tree. With all the pomp and ceremony of a brass band. The villagers then have to sleep under it to defend it from being chopped down by the next village and while doing so drink a lot of beer.

DAY 30: VIENNA REST DAY.

Really it’s only a bike free day because I spent the whole day exploring Vienna and feel just as knacked as usual. I left fairly early and headed out to Schonbrain palace where I spent a few hours walking around the palace and its beautiful gardens. Then headed into the city and saw the Spanish horses and loads of other fancy buildings.

Tonight in the kitchen I meet a fellow cyclist, Jeremy from the UK, who is heading in more or less the same direction. He had already heard about me and was wondering when he would run into me as in Germany he had been approached by an oldish German couple and they asked if he was from New Zealand as they had read about this New Zealand guy in their local newspaper. The camp site owner in Bullay told me he was going to put it in the paper. I wish now I had taken the details……..but you just don’t think.

DAY 31: VIENNA – BRATISLAVA (SLOVAIKA)
START: 8:45 – FINISH: 13:30 – DISTANCE: 72 KM – RIDE TIME: 3h 30

It was a relatively easy ride out of Vienna and Austria to the next country Slovakia. The English guy Jeremy joined me. It was good to have some company for a change………….though giving him the map was a bad idea as we had to double back after going the wrong way.

Though in the end he did get us to the campsite which was some way out of Bratislava. So he did redeem himself. We got to Bratislava in good time so we had the afternoon to go up to the castle and wander round the old town which was very busy because Slovakia are currently hosting the ice-hockey world champs. Bringing a bit of atmosphere. The campsite we are staying must be right dodgy because they told us to lock our bikes in the shed.

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