As the latest stage in my many-staged journey southeast from Brussels I spent five days at the end of October and beginning of November cycling from Passau, the last town in Germany, across Austria to Vienna. More or less along the river Danube.
You can hire bikes in Passau and drop them off in Vienna. But this service stops in mid October. So on the way there, I hopped off the train in Munich at 5 pm and bought a bike at Rocky Mountain and Friends, the only bike shop in the city still open that late on a Saturday afternoon.
The shop was rather cooler than I would ideally have liked, even though the bike I bought was a city bike with three gears. Looking at the bike’s saddle (see arrow), I asked the salesman/mechanic for a padded cover. He gave me a look. He said he would have to ask the manager. He asked whether the saddle provided by the shop was not adequate for me? I caved in. I regretted it later.
I spent the night at the IBB, a big 70s-style hotel in Passau. From then on, in Austria, all my nights were in places with monosyllabic names: Linz, Au, Melk, Tulln and Wien.
In the morning I had coffee and a cheesy pretzel at the railway station, bought the guide to the Danube cycle route (which I left behind in Melk), manoeuvred my panniers onto the reluctant bike rack and set off.
Day 1: 84 km, Passau – Eferding (with a side trip by train to Linz to sleep. You hoped to find somewhere to sleep in Eferding? on a Sunday? said the hotel receptionist in Linz.)
Day 2: 59 km, Eferding – Au
Day 3: 81 km, Au – Melk
Day 4: 93 km, Melk – Tulln
Day 5: 46 km, Tulln – Vienna
Silver birch are one of the five trees I am looking out for this autumn. Along the ride I saw lots of beautiful silver birch with leaves still a-flutter.
Some may be self-seeded, I suppose:
Others look to have been planted for their looks near where people live:
or as part of a memorial:
or to advertise a hairdressers.
(Still to come: oak trees, plane trees, conkers and dogs on the ride.)