Saturday, September 11, 2010

Biking the Danube, part IV

  After my tour of Stift Melk, I hopped on my bicycle and rode out of town, back towards Krems.  This time, however, I rode on the south side of the Danube.  It was a much nicer ride than the previous day; if you only ride it one way you should probably go on the north side to see all the little villages and such, but the south side was much more peaceful.  Mostly green, with fields and orchards and views across the river to the towns on the other side.  That's not to say that the south side was uninhabited, by any means; just more sparse and rural.  Here's a schloss that, as far as I could tell, was privately owned and not open to the public:

  Here are some typical views from the path:

  For part of the way it was a nature trail of sorts, with signs identifying common birds, mammals, and amphibians:

  I got passed by a pair of long-distance cyclists:

  My mama didn't raise no fool, so I got up to warp speed, caught up with them, and drafted behind them for an hour or so.  They had full panniers on their bikes, and sleeping bags and tents, and all manner of stuff; it was like drafting behind a semi.  Between the downhill grade, the tailwind that had been a headwind the previous day when I was going the other direction, and this beautiful draft, I barely needed to pedal, and the miles flew by.  All good things must come to an end, however; when I saw this spot, I knew I had to stop and have lunch:

  That's right across the river from me.  I'm not sure which town it's above; I quite missed it the previous day.  So I sat on a park bench, stared at the castle on the hill, and ate my sandwich.  A little zip through a village:

  Then sailing through orchards:

  And now I was opposite Dürnstein, with the ruins I had hiked up to the day before.  The clouds cooperated with some dramatic zing, and I got a couple of nice photos:

  From here it was a very short ride back into Krems:

  It started raining just as I pedaled into town, so I holed up in the first restaurant I saw and had some munchies:

  That's Styrian pumpkin soup with pumpkin oil drizzled on it, and potato croquettes with a gravy-like sauce.  Not the greatest food, but it was salty and I was tired, so it hit the spot.  I actually sat in that restaurant, on their patio, for about two hours reading academic papers.  It may sound odd, but it was really quite ideal sitting there with the rain coming down around me, highlighting passages and writing marginal notes to myself while snacking on croquettes and sipping beer.

  After a while the rain stopped, and I walked briefly around in Krems:

  It's a nice enough town.  The tourist district is filled with shmaltzy dreck and is to be avoided at all costs, but the rest of the place felt like an actual functioning city, unlike Melk, which pretty much felt like a Disney reconstruction from beginning to end.  But the restaurant I wanted to have dinner at was closed, and the rain started again, and a room for the night was going to cost a pretty penny, so I decided to skip town back to Vienna (where I'm staying on a friend's couch).

  So that's my bike ride along the Danube, through the Wachau!  I enjoyed it immensely, and I hope I've given a bit of the flavor of it here.  I've been sitting in front of my computer for way too long now, and I'm quite tired and sore for reasons that will become clear several blogs posts from now; so for now, farewell, adieu, auf wiedersehen, good night...

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