My last blog post I wrote while in the Black Forest, since then I cycled down to Donaueschingen to meet my travel companion the Danube River. I have followed the river all the way to Slovakia which I’ll follow until Bulgaria and then leave for Turkey.
The Danube has been nothing but a treat. It is mostly flat and well sign posted which is a good thing since I took no map and just assumed that I would find my way. This has worked out pretty well, however, I have been lost a couple of times but that was mainly due to me missing signs and not concentrating.
The ride through Germany was comfortable and relaxing. Heading into Austria was equally comfortable but much more scenic. It started as soon as you crossed the Germany/Austria border. It was like something from a Disney film, I had flocks of birds weaving in and out around my bike along with butterflies riding along with me all while surrounded by green forests and of course the trusty Danube. I half expected people to come out of their homes and start signing to aid my Disney fantasy. The cycle pathway from Passau to Wein was simply stunning and I now know why most people start their cycle trip from Passau.
It was also in Austria that I experienced my first encounter of random friendliness. I was cycling along the river and was going to overtake a local cyclist who was trying to see over a huge box he had in front of him. He started chatting to me and asked where I was going etc. He told me that he was a local fisherman and was going to feed the fish. When his place of work came up he told me that he had family about 60km from there, I thought nothing of it and said it’s nice to have family close by, we then said our goodbyes.
10 minutes later I noticed a cyclist come pretty fast behind me so I moved over, it was the fisherman. He told me that he had phoned his mother and it was ok for me to go and say with her for the night, she would feed me and let me rest etc. He then went out of his way to create mini maps for me including his mother’s house address and exactly how to get there. I have read a few travel blogs and I know that this happens quite often but it’s one thing knowing something and another experiencing it. I was taken back by it, I don’t even think that he would have been there. I kept asking myself would I send a random cyclist who stinks and I’ve spoken to for 5 mins to my mothers? Unfortunately his mother lived too close for the distance I wanted to cover that day so I had to thank him but explain that I wanted to cover double the distance. This is something I now regret as it would have been something different to break up my trip.
I’ve also noticed an increasing trust in people the further I travel, so much so that I haven’t yet locked Mariee (my bike), I just don’t feel any threat. Although I feel this trust I have to admit that I did take advantage of it by sneaking out of a camp site in the wee hours of the morning without paying, it was a huge campsite with loads of motor-homes so they weren’t struggling for business and I’m on a budget.
My tent was also put through it paces and failed unfortunately. We had a freak storm about 8am in Austria with the winds getting too much for my tent and it uprooted the whole thing while I was in it and snapped a pole while ripping a hole in the tent. I was rollin’ around in the tent while the wind continued to blow me away. Eventually there was a break in the wind and I managed to gather everything that had blown away, great start to the morning. Although this was one of the things that makes you want to go back to bed I rode that wind until I hit Linz
With Western Europe out-of-the-way I’m heading to places unknown to me. I don’t know a lot about the countries I’m about to visit but it’s exciting and leaving Austria and entering Slovakia you notice the cultural change. I’m really looking forward to leaving Europe and heading further East. Experienced cyclists say Europe is a training ground for the rest of the world and I think I’m about a couple of weeks away from taking on the East.