Willkommen in Österreich

I enjoyed a wonderful week in Czech.  Even though the country was doing everything to make me want to leave, I still felt sad to go.  I even lingered sentimentally in the rain in ugly, crowded, busy Znojmo, the last Czech town I visited.  It had started raining the night before and continued the entire way for my last 60 km in the country.

Ad for beer from Znojmo (Znojemské pivo):

Znojmo beer by bryandkeith on flickr

For some reason I was not looking forward to Austria.  Yet the country welcomed me.  The rain seemed to stop at the border.  The tailwind picked up and dried me out.  The first town was Retz with a pretty central square and the most helpful people.  I had to ask quite a few times: “has du ein karte Österreich?”, and each time not only did people pretend I wasn’t butchering their language, but they successfully understood and happily pointed me in the right direction.

So I now I know: if you’re looking for a road map in Retz, head to the Shell station.  It’s on the highway on the way out of town.  Somehow with the big pile of maps I bought in Berlin, I forgot I had to go through Austria.

Retz by bryandkeith on flickr

And if you’re looking for camping, well, I found the most brilliant spot just a few km away in a vineyard.  After all that Czech rain, I dried out everything completely in the breeze.  Fantastic country this.

First camping in Austria by bryandkeith on flickr

The following day I crossed the Danube at Tulln and found a spot for lunch.  As I was sitting at the wet table eating a damp lunch, a man with an umbrella was pushing his granddaughter in a swing.  He had short conversations with folks walking by on the path.  Since I don’t speak German, I imagined the conversations they were having:

“Hello there.”

“Hi.  Pissing down rain again.”

“Yes, but I think it was worse yesterday.”

“Maybe.  But not like last summer when I went on holiday in Holland.  Rainiest August ever.”

“Ah yes, summer in Europe.”

Holland August 2010:

DSCN1779 by bryandkeith on flickr

I think it was Tom who convinced me to bring the heavy raincoat on this trip.  Our conversation went something like this:

Tom: “Well, do both of the raincoats keep you dry?”

Me: “No.”

Tom: “I’d take the one that does.”

Me: “Okay.”

Brilliant.  It may be heavier and doesn’t breathe as well, but I’m pretty happy about the dry factor.  Tom’s usual advice is another marg which works for me.

Kerry and Tom by bryandkeith on flickr

From Tulln I ended up taking the path along the Danube (Eurovelo 6) all the way to Vienna.  That huge city felt drab, and I thought its streets would be more suited to darkness, rain, and a black trench coat than the pleasant morning when I was exploring on my bike.  Well, be careful what you ask for.  By noon, I had two out of three.  The sky turned dark, and rain came down.  I didn’t have a trench coat and once again I was wearing my useful rain jacket.

DSCN4595 by bryandkeith on flickr

Vienna bike sharing:

Bike share Vienna by bryandkeith on flickr

Even with the change in weather Vienna wasn’t doing it for me.  The large, gray buildings felt oppressive and overbearing so I found the Danube again and headed toward Slovakia where I knew the sun would be shining.

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