Balkans 2016 – Day 70 : Wissenufer, Austria to Passau, Bavaria

Wow 70 Days already on the road. That was the original days I planned at first to complete my ride. Looks like I am nowhere near this. Later on it was revised to 80 days as my friend Jeff said it sounded nicer for the Lions Project Fund Raising campaign. I think even 80 days could be exceeded at the pace I am going. Anyway no big deal. After 80 days and at least 3,400 km cycled, I will consider mission accomplished and will decide then what happens next. Meanwhile just push on and enjoy the journey. 

I woke up this morning to a fantastic sun rise albeit cold temperatures of 2C. Never mind at least it’s sunny and blue skies. I can see the grass at the side of the road has one night frost so it must have dipped below 0C. Ouch. 

Anyway today will be a short easy ride to Passau which is in the Bavarian part of Germany. Yes I leave Austrian today and cross into yet another country. 

The ride today was not as spectacular like yesterday but with the sunshine and blue skies, it was enjoyable. It was a tad cold but you don’t really feel it when you are riding except for the face which is mostly exposed to the draft. 

There was absolutely no border crossing at all. So much so I didn’t even noticed that I was already in Germany. I only know it after noticing a signboard in a town called Obernzell. I think I already crossed into Germany at least 5 km before. 

I reached Passau at around lunch time. I am meeting my host at 4pm so I have some time to look around Passau old town. It’s a very interesting town with many old buildings and a massive cathedral in the middle of the town. There was the usual Christmas market in the middle of town. I decided to just wait out at a cafe nearby as its really too cold to walk around for two long. 

After meeting my host and settling in his apartment, we had coffee and chit chatted awhile. Tobias who works as a teacher in a special school for children with learning disabilities, likes Asian food. So I suggested I cooked for him and his girlfriend. We had a lovely evening together over dinner of Thai red curry chicken with leek and fresh paprika with Jasmine rice. Tobias made a improvised version of an Austrian dessert called Pofesen Powidl. It’s sweet but tastes great. We top it off with local Passau wheat beers. 

Tomorrow I will ride towards Straubing as last minute I managed to get a host there. It would be around 90KM ride at least and forecast for tomorrow will be #%{%}%<#\ cold at -2C till 1PM. ! 

Lions Project : RM 334.00

Good Morning Wissenufer. Doesn’t look promising.
And the sun breaks through
Yay blue skies
Buffet Breakfast included
Chose the best seat
Bring on the sun
Overnight frost
Ok now its blue Danube
Wonderful weather for cycling.
Totally desserted
Quaint villages along the way
Missed the boat? its working but only at 2pm
OK i am in Germany
Scenic Passau
Very windy across the bridge but photo opp is a must

Passau town center
The imposing St Stephen Cathedral
The information center is here
Yet another Christmas Market
Sunset in Passau. on the way to meet my host
Austrian dessert Pofesen Powild by Tobias

Balkans 2016 – Day 69 : Linz to Wissenufer, Austria

Wissenufer is really a small town but it is where I can find a reasonably priced room for the night. There were several bigger and more well known towns between Linz. So I aimed for riding to Wissenufer today. 

Michaela my host kindly rode me out of Linz. In fact she accompanied me for at least 20KM via the backroads and through small villages instead of going directly to the Danube. That’s was so much fun. Thanks Michaela. 

After saying our goodbyes we went our separate way on the R1 Danube route. She heads back to Linz and me towards Passau. Today the weather is slightly better than yesterday. Still overcast and cloudy but there are some specks of blue and the sun seems to be peeking out.  In fact the sun eventually came out and I could see blue skies. Immediately it changed the landscape and the sceneries colors and hues. It is also interesting that the sun also lifted my spirits and I could feel energized and more happy. We take this for granted in Malaysia as we enjoy so much sunshine the whole year round. 

The route today was also more scenic as it passes by the narrow parts of the river. After a quaint town called Aschach, the bike path started going through the narrow parts and it was really very pretty and beautiful as you ride along the bottom of valley between the hills on both sides. However the sun was swallowed by the clouds around this area. A bit of a set back but it’s still very scenic. Eventually I came to a town call Scholgen it is at the point where the Danube almost turns back on itself because of how it meanders back and forth through the deep valley. Very fascinating indeed. 

As I approached Wissenufer and about 4KM away, it started to rain slightly and I was happy to know that I have made the decision to ride to Wissenufer. 

After checking into the guesthouse, I had a quick bite to eat from my packed food and checked out the town. It was drizzling and everything was closed. Well everything means one of everything. One restaurant, one mini market, one church , one police station and fire station and that’s it. So it was a quick walk. 

Tomorrow I will cross into Germany and say goodbye to Austria. 

Lions Project : RM 329.80 ( Target is RM 340.00)

Goodbye photo with Michaela.
Michaela showing me the country backroads to the Danube.
Hello sunshine !
Blue skies at last
Very quaint towns on both side of the Danube.
Transport barge that used to ply the danube transporting salt and other stuff.
4,500 years old ?
iPhone zoom at its best
Hey you Danube. I am here.
Castle on the hill over looking the Danube.
Totally desserted and closed campsite.
Passed by many folks fishing aling these parts
No chance of crossing over to the other side with this
The most beautiful section of the route
Hello Danube
I am here because …………
This is where the Danube almost turns back into itself.

Balkans 2016 – Day 68 : Linz, Austria 

Linz is the capital of Upper Austria and an industrial town. I am told that the biggest industry there is steel. During Hitler days, the town was used for building ammunition and weapons. So actually it was heavily bombed during WW2. Many of older buildings were not restored or rebuilt so there isn’t many old buildings to speak of comparatively. 

I decided to stay one more day to look around Linz and also to catch up with my blogs and also some emails. More so actually my host Michaela said she would bring me to the local market and later on to have the famous Leberkase ( Austrian meatloaf). Michaela and her husband Herbert are also cycle tourers so we have a lot to chat about. Also Michaela have given me great trips about the route to Passau, Germany in the Danube cycle path. 

After breakfast we cycled together to the local farmers market. Spent some time looking at folks shopping for local produce. Michaela also bought some items for herself. After that we walked over to Michaela and Herbert’s friends shop where they chatted for awhile and I just tag along and kaypoh and observe. 

Then we proceeded to go to a Waldorf school. “Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Its pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils.” For more information on Waldof you can check out the wiki here

The school was have a fair to raise fund. So it was fun looking at the activities and taste some of their cakes and pastries. 

After that we proceeded to the famous Leberkase shop in Linz for a quick lunch and a glas of beer. I had a horse meat Leberkase ( Meatloaf) which tasted really good. 

We cycle back after this to Michaela’s apartment to rest. Michaela has an appointment with her friend tonight so I am on my own. I did some more research for my route tomorrow and also day after to Passau. Tomorrow I will stop probably somewhere halfway between Linz and Passau.  

Lions Project : Same as Day 67

Michaela and her bike
Constant reminder of Christmas
Live big band music at the farmers market
City bike parking
Meatloaf galore
The legendary Leberkase shop. Opens daily till 4 am and on Saturday 5am.

Balkans 2016 – Day 67 : Krems to Linz, Austria

I have been cracking my head the night before on trying to find a place to stay between Krems and Linz as its really a bit too far to ride all the way. With the grey and cold weather it is also not so fun to be on the road for so long hours. All the campsites along the Danube River is closed for winter. Wild camping could be an option but I wasn’t that keen. 

Suddenly I had a brain flash. I have a host in Linz. Perhaps I could consider taking a train from somewhere mid way between Krems and Linz. That way I get to ride and then train to Linz where I have a host. So I contacted the host to ask if this would be ok. It was and so I started planning for it. 

This morning I woke up at 430am and was thinking of catching Robert my host in Krems to ask him about taking the train and also if bikes are possible on board. He told me he leaves the house at 530am or so. However it’s past 6 am and no sound and sign of him. I realized that he has left for office already. It must be that I have dozed off as I am in and out of sleep as he leaves the apartment probably in a ninja kind of way. Oh well never mind I will check the internet on train connections to Linz and also taking bikes on board. My host in Linz also have been very helpful and have given me a ton of great information about the train and connections and also what to do while in Linz waiting for her to return from work at 6 pm. 

My plan was to ride to Melk which is around 40KM away and then train to Linz. So I left Roberts apartment in Krems around 930 am and I should arrive Melks at around noon and then go to the station to buy the train tickets to Linz. It seems that there is a train connection to Linz every hour. 

The weather is still much the the same. Foggy, grey, slightly cold and around 8 or 7 C. The scenery however is much nicer that yesterday. The route to Melks passes by several quaint villages in the famous Wachau valley. Also passed by many vineyards. I am told in this region, the vineyard on terraces are famous and the white wine is famous here.  I also pass by a very beautiful town called Durnstein, which has a beautiful church and castle. 

I arrived Melk around 123opm and proceeded to check out the famous Melk Monastery. It was truly magnificent and huge. You can basically see the whole monastery all over the Melk old town. After checking out the Monastery I proceeded to the Melk train station. I plan to take the 2:22 pm train. I need to change train twice and the allow bikes with surcharge. Total ticket cost around Euro 22. Expensive but beats staying in a guesthouse middle of nowhere. 

I had some time to spare so I went to a cafe with wifi and idle myself there until time to take the train. Actually as it turns out taking the train was not that straight forward. First you have to see what train it is. For old train the bike carriage is in front and for mordern ones its in the middle. For the old one, you can’t roll in the bike as there are steps to get on the carriage and the new one you can. Of course I didn’t know that. For the first train I completely missed the first carriage and was thinking there is no special carriage and had to haul up my bike together with my panniers. Thanks to the help of some passengers I managed. The second one I could roll in and the third one lift up again. Interesting experience. 

Finally arrived Linz T around 415pm and my host will be home around 6pm. She told me I could hang out at the public library and use the free internet and toilet there. Which I did and it was wonderful to have place to hangout that is warm and with Internet and best of all for free.

Sometime past 6pm, I was at my host Michaela’s home and had a wonderful Austrain meat dumpling soup for dinner. We chit chatted awhile and made plans for tomorrow. 

Lions Project : RM 323.20

Leaving Roberts apartment in Krems
Grey Danube
Wine country
Deserted old town
Eventhough crappy weather, you pass by some very scenic anc beautiful places.
I am so happy to bump across fellow crazy folks cycling during this period. They are from UK and cycling to Asia.
Great placd anc time for lunch
Inisde the courtyard of the Melk Monastery
The mighty Melk Monastery imposing and can be seen all around town.
Hello train station
Busy taking the photo and completely missed the bike friendly carriage.
My bike seem to be enjoying the train ride.
Visited the city library while waiting for the host to come back from work
Austrian dumpling soup.
Private room and bed
Thanks Michaela for this nice touch.

Balkans 2016 – Day 66 : Vienna to Krems, Austria

Day one on the Danube bike way also know as Euro Velo 6. Weather is expected to be cloudy and no sun. However it was really more misty than cloudy. No rain though. After cooking me a scrumptious breakfast, Hermi accompanied me downstairs her apartment to show me the way to the Danube bike way. Her place is really very convenient as its around 2km or so to the bike way. 

Soon I was on the bike path. As expected the path is mostly flat. Direction signs ade generally good but not the best. I was lost a few times and had to ask for directions. Sometimes I got on the right path by intuition and good guesses. In terms of scenary there was not much to see mostly because it was so misty the whole day. 

I came to a point where I need to decide which side of the river to take to go to Krem. This is very tricky if you don’t have a proper map to guide you. You have basically the following choices to cross the river. One is a bridge then a ferry and lastly hydro plants. Ferry is not an option this time as its shut down for the winter so only bridge or hydro plant. If you miss a bridge you might have to ride back or go quite far away to the next crossing. The crossing i came across is a hydro plant. I followed the direction to Krems but because I was itchy backside I ask one of the worker if this is the direction. He says yes but the other side was better. So I followed his advice as he says its bike path all the way and the other one shares road sometimes with car. I kind of felt I made the wrong decision when the distance marker says 28km to Krems where just now it was only 20KM. Then I was on the side of the path that was total deserted and no town in between. But I powered on anyway. I underestimated also the time to get to Krems and it was getting late and will definitely reach only after sunset or close to that. And the final blow came when I reach the bridge to cross over to Krems. You can check out the picture to see why. Took me at least 15 mins there. 

Once arriving at Krems I went to a cafe to wait for my host who comes back only after 6pm. His apartment was easy to find. After meeting up, we chit chatted. Robert , my host works at IT support for a company that does GST tax refund settlement. His company has teams both in Vienna and Singapore. He commutes daily to Vienna from Krems to work. Robert is also a Vegan. He cooked a simple vegan dinner or cabbage and pasta and potatoes and after dinner we call it the night as he has to get up at 5 am to go to work. He says I can stay at the apartment for as long as I want and just drop off the keys in his mailbox when I leave.  

Tomorrow I will ride towards Linz. 

Lions Project : RM 319.10

The Danube Cycle Path.
I find this grafitti facinating
Quick stiop here to warm up and have a coffee
The big bear says stop for coffee.
Grey scenes but atmospheric
Pretty much sums up how the whole day ride is like.
Dang. I had to climb up this.
Between coffee which cost 3.30 Euro anf this at 3.50Euro. The choice is clear.
Robert , my host in Krem

Balkans 2016 – Day 65 : Vienna, Austria. 

I decided to play tourist today and go have a look around Vienna. I have been to Vienna before about 15 years ago I think. So I have basically seen the major sites like St Stephans Cathedral and Schobrunn Palace. So I decided to check out something I have not seen before. Hermi told me the biggest collection of Klimt paintings and in Belvedere Palace. So that’s what I am going to check out. 

So the plan would be to leave for the city form Danube Island where Hermi’s apartment is and spend a few hours and Belvedere and then Hermi will meet me somewhere in town and show me around the city and visit the largest Christmas Bazaar in Vienna. 

I had wonderful few hours looking at Klimts and other classics before catching up with Hermi. She brought me the most famous Vienna cafe to have some coffee and apple strudel and the we walk around the city and visited the famous Christmas Bazaar at the City Hall. 

After that we went back to Hermi’s apartment and had a nice dinner of Goulash chicken with rice. Turned in around 1130 pm. Tomorrow I will head to Krems. The weather is cloudy but no rain. Around 9c. 

Thank you Hermi for your wonderful hospitality and showing me Vienna. 

Lions Project : Same as Day 64

The huge garden of Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace
Manicured gardens of Belvedere
Inside the palace
St Stephens Cathedral
The famous cafe in Vienna
Coffee and Strudel time
Cakes galore

Balkans 2016 – Day 64 : Sollenau to Vienna, Austria

Reflective Saddle

The night before Marco suggested that I should take the Ragweg i.e. the bike path to Vienna instead of the planned B17 motorway. He said it’s more scenic and also safer as traffic will get more crazy as I approach Vienna. This makes sense. So I decided to follow his advice. After  breakfast Marco left for work and I left much later as I have a short ride to Vienna so not necessary to rush. I left Marco’s house at around 10am. The forecast for the day was great but it was actually greater. Lots of sunshine and warm. The route that Marco suggested was fantastic also. Very scenic and peaceful.

I had plenty of time to get to Vienna and the weather was good so I stopped many times to take pictures and also to rest. The radweg EV 9 to Vienna follows most of the way the canal…

View original post 152 more words

Balkans 2016 – Day 64 : Sollenau to Vienna, Austria

The night before Marco suggested that I should take the Ragweg i.e. the bike path to Vienna instead of the planned B17 motorway. He said it’s more scenic and also safer as traffic will get more crazy as I approach Vienna. This makes sense. So I decided to follow his advice. After  breakfast Marco left for work and I left much later as I have a short ride to Vienna so not necessary to rush. I left Marco’s house at around 10am. The forecast for the day was great but it was actually greater. Lots of sunshine and warm. The route that Marco suggested was fantastic also. Very scenic and peaceful.

I had plenty of time to get to Vienna and the weather was good so I stopped many times to take pictures and also to rest. The radweg EV 9 to Vienna follows most of the way the canal. Once one the outskirts of Vienna it gets a little complicated. So I had to ask several cyclist on how to get to my host’s apartment in Vienna.

After awhile I finally managed to arrive at my host’s apartment in Danube Island. Hermi my host is a friend of my wife. She is also married to a Malaysian but now living in Vienna. She cooked and we had dinner and wine together and chit chatted a while before I turned in for the night.

Tomorrow I will explore Vienna and do a city walking tour.

Lions Project : RM 310.30

Yay dedicated bike path all the way to Vienna
Good Morning !
Canals most of the way

More canals
Fantastic day for riding
Wow !

Multi terrain bike path to Vienna
Hello Vienna
Healthy plants growing here.
A different kind of high
Cycling path under the bridge across the Danube
Blue Danube

Balkans 2016 – Day 63 : Hartberg to Sollenau, Austria

Wow what a wonderful short stay at Hartberg. I had a fantastic host and a very quaint little village. I really wish I had some more time to stay longer to enjoy Hartberg. I had to push on just because the weather for the next few days seems fantastic and during this season, you need to take advantage of that. I believe in transition months the weather can be fairly unpredictable as we have seen already.

So with a bit of sadness I decided to leave and had a nice cup of coffee with Ulrich before he left for work and I went on to pack to leave a little bit later.

It was bright and sunny when I started my ride but temperature is still cool at around 9C. I am anticipating lots of climbing as the Route shows that I need to climb to 1000m before decending and Hartberg is at around 320m only. For the first 30KM or so it was climbing gentle and before I knew it I was already at 600m. Then the climb was visibly more steep but nothing that you need to dismount and push but very manageable. And the I was at 800m and that’s when the cross wind hit. Thankfully it was not too much a problem but it did make it more chilly. Finally I arrive at the peak at around 960m and had a wonderful decend for at least 6KM down to 400m ! Wohooooo! After that it’s gently downhill all the way to Sollenau.

My host only come home from work at around 4 pm but 1 arrived at his place at around 3 pm. I was asked to chill out at his verandah till he comes home.

At around 4 pm my host came home and showed me around his huge home. I was first shown his newly acquire chickens. He has one cock and 4 hens. The hens after 20 days already laying eggs. Usually 4 eggs a day.

Marco just ordered a big ass Smeg gas cooker and he needs help to move it into his apartment from his garage. So together with neighbour we managed to move it. After that Marco made a wondeful dinner for us and we had a nice evening with some wine.

After that we decided to call it the night. Tomorrow I will head to Vienna.

Ready to leave Hartberg
You see a lot of corn fileds in this area
Fantastic day for riding. Sunny and Warm.
Coffee break
Constant reminder of Christmas
Weiner Nuestadt
My host’s house
Our dinner
Herbal snapps. 100x better than Jagermeister
My host Marco and me posing with his big ass cooker which we moved to his hall from his garage
The big ass cookef
View of Marco’s garden and barn.
well equipped kitchen

View of Marco anc Susan’s house
The chicken hut
Free range Eggs

Balkans 2016 – Day 62 : Graz to Hartberg, Austria

Today my plan would be to head to Hartberg which is around 60KM plus from Graz. The weather forecast is good although the start of the morning was a little grey. I do not have a host for today. One Couchsurfing host called Ulrich replied that he cannot host me as he plans to be out of town this weekend. So I plan to arrive Hartberg slightly after noon so that I have enough time to explore places to stay.  I saw on google maps that there is a camping site in Hartberg but it’s closed for the season.  I ear marked it and plan to check it out when I arrive to see if I could still camp even though it’s closed for the winter. 

After breakfast, I started to pack and was ready to leave Tobias apartment at around 830am. Tobias decided to accompany me cycling to help me find my way out of the city and on to my intended route. 

Once outside the city and on the route I had to start climbing and a steep one. The signboard says 14% incline. I had to climb for the next 15 km up to 600m before decending. After that the route profile is mainly climb up to the village and then decend and after that climb again to the next village and decend. It was a bit of work but rewarding vistas. This went on until I reach Hartberg. 

Since Hartberg was a village or town rather than a city, there are not many choices for places to stay. It’s either high end hotels or private rooms. I was prepared to camp for the night whether on proper camp site or wild camping. The weather is mild and good so it will not be an issue. 

I went to check out the paid campsite first and true enough it’s closed for the winter but the grounds are open and there are a few camper vans there. My plan was to try to call the operator and ask anyway if I could camp. Failing which I will still camp there and see what happens.  So I went to the city center to try to get a free wifi spot and call the campsite operator. I managed to get a free hotspot right in the middle of the town. As I called a few times and no answer so I decided to wait and call later. Just as I was a about to move a gentlemen and a lady with her young daughter came up to me and said Hi ! He said he is Ulrich! It appears that his plan changed and he is in town after all. He said he noticed me and guess I must be the one requesting to be hosted. I was so shocked again. What are the chances. Anyway he asked if I had other arrangements and I said no. So he invited me to stay with them and I gladly accepted. 

Ulrich has a huge house near the town and next to the old castle. It is surrounded by trees and a park. I was given the entire ground floor to stay with my own kitchen, bathrooms and a huge sleeping room. After settling in I was invited for dinner with Ulrich and family. He cooked a fantastic and delicious dinner. After dinner we all played a couple of round of Memory with little one before turning in for the night. 

What a fantastic end of the day. 

Lions Project: RM 296.20

Tobias apartment in Graz
Nice of Tobias to show me the way out of Graz
Tobias ‘s touring bike
We fie before we say goodbye
Constant reminder of autumn
No idea what this is but it looks cool
Charming Hartberg
Hartberg town center
Hartberg church
Old castle in Hartberg. just next to my host’s house
Nice park to relax
Ulrich beautiful and large house
My private abode for the night
Even acces to a patio
Delicious dinner cooked by Ulrich