Waltzing along the Danube

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
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Trip End Feb 28, 2007


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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Friday, October 20, 2006

FRIDAY, 20th October
 
Vienna or Wien was 320 km away so we needed an early start...but we didn't. One of us wouldn't get up out of his comfortable bed. And then he took his time over breakfast.  
 
The hotel was practically on the doorstep of the A1 which could have taken us all the way to Vienna if we so wished but I didn't so we didn't. We started off on that autobahn and made up some time from our late start. It was not too busy. There was a continuous stream of traffic in both directions of which the trucks were the most irritating. If you don't drive at 110 kph they are up your behind with lights a'flashing. All that did was slow me down which would force them to overtake only to be overtaken again by me on the hills. Not that there were many hills. The countryside was very pretty and the weather was kind to us again with bright blue October skies. No animals. Not a single cow or sheep or goat. Two ponies were seen in the distance I recall. Anne says she saw some deer in a pumpkin patch! No pigs either but we have it on good authority that the ham houses are deep underground. As for the turkeys (which is more popular than chicken over here) I can only assume that they are either imported or have purple combs and are planted in fields.
 
We eventually exited the A1 and headed towards Steyr along the 122. In Steyr, a strictly industrial and commercial place, we coffee'ed and tea'ed in McDonalds. They are all over Austria...in towns you would never expect them to be. I suspect that their beefburgers are true blue hamburgers from the underground pig colonies.
 
Leaving Steyr we passed through fields and fields of rape seed or canola with still some corn hanging in there. There was also a strange purple headed crop and, supposedly, orchards full of pears because there were posters, signs and plaster models of that fruit all through the towns and by the road sides but not a tree did we see. Perhaps they are underground in the pork factories.
 
We stopped again at Amstetten to buy some ham and cheese filled bread rolls for lunch. The Austrian bread is marginally softer and more palatable to me than the German and French bricks. We returned to the autobahn for a short time but because I was determined to picnic on the Danube we had to find a bend in the river close to our route. As luck would have it there was a bridge close by near a place called Kleinpochlarn so we ducked off the main road and crossed the Danube or Donau over that long bridge and parked on a grassy edge of the road beneath what looked like the embankment to the river. We climbed up the embankment and found a bench on the rivers edge. Not the most popular part of the Danube but it was quiet and clean with only the occasional cyclist passing by. The river was very wide and flowing quickly but I reckon in the wrong direction! We were sitting on the north bank and it was flowing left to right. There was no traffic on the water...not a boat to be seen...and the blue Danube it weren't!
Mind you the blue skies had gone by now.
 
At last we reached Vienna or at least we thought we had but the busy road seemed to go on forever. Every time I thought we were crossing into the actual city centre Anne would correct me. She kept me going along the signposted roads to centrum whilst I was insisting that we turn off towards what I thought was the Danube. I was wrong. It was like entering Sydney from Engadine and believing the Opera house was just around the next corner. It was a big city and all we had was a small scale map. But suddenly all became clear and there was the Strasse we were looking for...Lassallestrasse where our Ibis hotel was located. We crossed what we thought was the Danube but it was the Donaukanal which separated the city from the real river which flowed just up the road from the hotel. We did a U turn and Anne hopped out to find out where the parking was. The entry was in the rear street and parking was underneath the hotel. It was a public car park and would cost us 10 Euros a day. It is strange how harrowing it is to find one's way around an unfamiliar city and yet by the time you leave (in our case in three days time) it feels like you have always lived there.
 
We left our cases as usual in the car and checked in with our overnight bags into an Ibis room. An Ibis room looks the same anywhere. The furnishings, I kid you not, are identical from the bed to the curtains to the corner shelf. This room was at the front of the hotel and a bit noisy at first. Even noisier as I opened the window to let some cool air in. The air conditioning was controlled by the hotel and was set too high. We presumed that because it was October the Ibis rule book said to set it on warm, no matter that it was 20 C outside. Otherwise it was clean and tidy.
 
Before we retired for the night we went for a walk up the street to the Danube. It was certainly very wide at this point on the Reichsbrucke (bridge) with an island in the middle which precluded us from seeing the other side. The river bank looked like a port area with wide flat concourse with little in the way of tourist facilities. There were two or three riverboats tied up, one of which was providing visitors with an evening meal. We walked under the bridge and returned to the hotel on the other side being very aware that we were in a gloomy, unattractive part of town and did not hang around.
 
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