Passau to Straubing (via Neptune)

(No WiFi at last night’s hostel in Straubing, so you get this a day late from Regensburg. Today’s post later, after a reader…)

Longest day of the whole trip today at about 105km, and also the end of our first full week on the road, having started in Vienna last Friday.

While wandering around Passau yesterday we found part of a scale model of the Solar System, done at 1mm equals 1000km, so the Earth is a ball bearing about 6mm wide.

Riding out of Passau today, we discovered another scale solar system on the north bank of the Danube and actually got to ride the whole length of this one, from the Sun (over a metre wide) to Neptune almost 5km later.

Despite being so long today’s century (100+km in one day) was generally an easy ride, mostly through farm areas and small villages on the north bank of the Danube. Tiring, though!

Straubing looks like a nice city, although we didn’t have much time or energy to explore after eight hours on the road from Passau.

Straubing hostel is a real retro throwback, no WiFi and super basic. Good location just outside the old centre, though, and clean and comfortable enough.

Off to Regensburg tomorrow, fifty odd km to a big city, hopefully with hostel WiFi so I can actually post this!


Willkommen in Deutschland!

Short bike ride to Passau, Germany today, then the afternoon exploring Passau’s spectacular old town, on a peninsula where the Donau (Danube) and Inn (as in Innsbruck) rivers join.

Tonight’s hostel is the Jungendherberge Veste Oberhaus – and the Veste Oberhaus is Passau’s spectacular old schloss on the ridge above the town, with an awesome view across the river into old Passau.

Part of Passau's castle, the Veste Oberhaus, from the stairwell of our hostel.

The hostel’s location is amazing, although the climb up from river level, pushing a loaded bike, was a bit of a grunt. This makes three nights of the last five we’ve had a steep climb up to our lodging at the end of our riding day…

Off to Straubing, Germany tomorrow, and our longest single day of the whole trip, 105km or so. Long day, but the weather looks like it’ll be clear and warm again, like today and yesterday.


In Which We Accidentally Wander Into Germany…

Long day today, 86km or so of riding from Linz to Kasten, just 20km or so short of the German-Austrian border. Tomorrow we’ll be in Passau, Germany.

In the mean time, near the end of today’s ride we found ourselves crossing from Austria into Germany and then back into Austria basically by accident. There was a sign saying Freistaat Bayern, a billboard with a URL that ended in .de instead of .at, and that was about the extent of our border crossing excitement.

For someone used to the rent-a-cop histrionics of the Canuck and Yank border monkeys, it was a refreshing and somewhat startling way to cross (then re-cross) an international border!

Aside from failing to cause an international incident, this morning I took an hour and a half off from the riding to visit Linz’s Schlossmuseum, which is hosting a special exhibit on the First World War (Der Erste Weltkreig, auf Deutsch) and specifically the effects in what is now modern Austria. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a terrible war and ended up collapsing entirely in November 1918 immediately after the Armistice. The front lines never reached Upper Austria but the effects were certainly felt, from rationing and privation among the civil population to the large collection of military, POW and other camps the region wound up hosting.

Should you happen to find yourself in Linz between now and December, I recommend the WW1 exhibit. Well worth an hour or two.

After the museum visit I booked it out of town up the Danube to try to catch some of the rest of the group. Riding with the group has been great, but it was also nice to head out and set my own pace for a few hours!

The guesthouse here in Kasten is very nice, a definite step up from the hostels. Eight or nine rooms, the lady who runs it does all the cooking too, and she is well set up for bike tourists.

We’re less than 20km from Passau, so tomorrow’s ride will be very short and easy and give us lots of time to explore Passau, which is supposed to have a lovely old town.


Grein to Linz

The day started off with a very nice zooming ride downhill into Grein proper after our night at the guesthouse built into a long-ruined hilltop schloss, Burg Kreuzer.

View downhill this morning. Much nicer ride down than up!

Unfortunately the day also started with the abrupt death of my new bike computer. It popped off it’s handlebar mount just as I started rolling, as computers sometimes do, hit the pavement and was done for. Not impressed with the fragility – bike equipment should be more shock resistant than that!

Aside from that we had a good day riding, about 65km, with only a couple km of headwinds right near the end along the river, and an unpleasant taxi driver cutting us off as we rode through Linz to our hostel.

We spent several hours in the afternoon wandering central Linz – the Mariendom is a grand spikey Gothic pile, and there are lots of nice Baroque buildings in town.

Off to Engelhartszell tomorrow, another 65km or so and our last stop in Austria – we’re into Germany by the end of Thursday when we get to Passau!