At just 325 km from Passau, I reached Vienna shortly after lunch on day three. Riding on the relatively flat Eurovelo 6 made for good progress, at least on this part of the route, although I’m told the surfaces deteriorate the further East you go. The difference between the Euorovelo 6 (Danube) and the InnRadWeg couldn’t be more striking, I’m not surprised it is the most popular cycle path in the world because it is set up almost perfectly for cycle tourists and you are never far away from the Danube river.
The facilities along the route are top notch, with water and toilet stations at regular intervals and the selection of accommodation and cafe’s along the way are just mind boggling; if I wasn’t riding on a tight budget I would be in heaven and probably addicted to caffeine!
There is plenty to see and you’re not routed away from the beautiful villages (most of which are set up for the visiting cyclists) with the signage making everything pretty easy – only where cycle paths converge do you have to watch you take the correct one.
I try not to miss too many important landmarks (difficult when you haven’t got a proper guide) and usually stop if I see something I think is photogenic. When I happened upon the Wehrkirche (defence church) St. Michael near the vine growing village Weißenkirchen in the Wachau region (and read the sign in German) I was amazed to find it is the oldest parish church of the whole Danube valley, dating back to the 10th century. It was fortified by the addition of the round tower (on the right) in the 15th century.
If I was impressed with finding the oldest church, then my next find was even better. Here’s a trivia question for you: where does a statue of Atilla the Hun stand today? A: In the small town of Tulln, approximately 20km from Vienna. The statue depicts Atilla receiving his bride Kriemhild, who’s come by boat from Passau.
Kriemhild, coming from the left (from the direction of Passau) is accompanied by the Markgraf of Osterland – today’s Austria – Rüdiger von Bechelaren and by the other “high princes twain” mentioned in the legend, to Attila waiting for her on the right side, in the direction of Hunnia. Behind Atilla stands his brother Buda, as well as two German princes living in exile in the Hun court, Dietrich von Bern and Gibich. The queue is ended by the little child of Attila and Kriemhild, Aladár, (strangely not yet born) – swinging his wooden sword and peeping curiously from behind the cloak of Gibich at his future stepmother.
The story is told in a large bronze book, with the quill of a goose laying on the open page.
There were additional bronze sculptures nearby, giving more detail into the story.
This rat (from the boat?) was apparently watching the whole procedure with a look of shock.
The campsite here in Vienna is huge (and as far as I can determine, the only one) but just off the cycle way, so I found it no problem. This was going to be my rest period and I wanted to get all my washing done and have a good look round without worrying about my kit, so wild camping was not an option this time. As I settled in, the other cyclists I’d met turned up too.
As I went to collect water from the communal washing area to make my pasta based tea, a conversation was struck up with a lady from Leeds in Yorkshire. In no time at all I was invited to share with Barbara and husband Steve their evening meal – unbelievable! We chatted till well past my bedtime, Barbara was a retired teacher and Steve an actor/director/producer – what an amazing couple. They had recently bought a VW campervan and decided to see more of Europe. Details exchanged (and photos taken) we met the next morning and said our goodbyes, once again I was reminded of the phrase – ‘the kindness of strangers’. Thanks Steve and Barbara, do keep in touch.
I’ll update you on what I got up to on my rest day in the next blog…