Niederosterreich on wheels: seeing through the fog

Austria's flag
Europe » Austria » Lower Austria
October 23rd 2019
Published: October 23rd 2019
Edit Blog Post

Like always, departing NZ bound for Europe is lengthy. In line with a major event on the professional development calendar late in October, I just had to go. Without P2 this time.

Just under 18 hours can pass surprisingly quickly when half of it is asleep. Qatar Airways direct to Doha from Auckland has the longest flight in the world, slightly more than the other Middle Eastern countries and on par nearly with some AirNZ to the America’s. And yet the cabin crew retain that unflappable appearance. Passengers, as myself, look more rugged!

Hamad airport was buzzing at midnight, everyone on hasty short or taking-their-time long layovers. Fortunately this aircraft parking spot delivered us (via buses) right to the landmark of the giant teddy bear, lounges, and the much appreciated, Vitality Spa. If I needed a 4am massage, the reception were busting an arm and leg to up-sell it from a fitness centre or pool only access. On it went; a gym workout, a swim, a soak and some quality therapeutics, well before dawn.

The final leg departing for Vienna early morning meant I arrived early afternoon. Perfectly, the OBB office is at the arrivals hall, near local train lines, the subway ‘U Bahn’, and some intercity services, so getting that correct ticket when I’d yet no idea on ticket machines proved easy.

Swift and clean, the train took me direct in 30 minutes to quiet Traisengasse, around 20 minutes walk from Wassnergasse and the Augarten. As I was unusually on time to the minute, my Airbnb host met and explained all, including the quirks of their body corporate when it came to decor, or what shouldn’t be left in the stairwell. A poor track record with bikes downstairs in the common courtyard led to a compromise of where to store it, especially when I’d handed my drivers license to the bike hire company as photo ID for the week.

If I could lift one up the narrow Girona old town steps as in February, this would be simple.

Vienna explorer again dealt with the hire arrangement. A women’s bike with front suspension was presented as my transport/ exercise machine.

Over the foggy hills yonder was Sunday’s plan when I hoped the majority were off the road. I was right.

Jan, my host, had directed me to the Vienna Woods west of town, and depending on your love of hills, choose them correctly. An ankle straining seated climb of 100m or so brought me to the start of the vineyards just above Kahlenbergerdorf. Rain had made for slippy roads, so in safety’s name, I revised the itinerary to get me over to Tulln.

Fortunately I’d made the wrong turn, so following one route instead inland near Weilding, I mapped it out stood on the road side a gentle ride of 300m ascent over 15km. That bet doing 2km riding with 150m elevation any day.

The mist and autumn colours of the forest were gorgeous. A few road cyclists passed me on their way over the hill, toward me, and the odd small group of non cyclists were climbing with me. Peacefully, I wove steadily up, down and up, passing the monastery at Mauerbach, and on to the summit at Passaurdorf. Four winding kilometres downhill brought me virtually river level, several kilometres inland and south of Tulln.

‘Umleitung’. Commonly seen signs last time, the diversions of road works, EuroVelo-works, and digging up all around led me where no offline navigation knew. At one point I carried the bike around fresh tar seal after going down a closed road, to join the main minor ‘L’ road into Tulln.

A coffee in the town square warmed up a cool weather time, and once that sun finally appeared, everything glowed, all the flat way via Klosterneuberg and home.

The weather forecasting was upside down, sun symbols across several weather resources not revealing the dense fog and mist lingering beforehand, and for most days subsequent.

Monday was one of those. I took off early north, to cross the bridge to Donau Insul and pedal onwards north and east to Wiesen and
Ernstbrunn. The itinerary changed around Seebarn, as I was not able to properly resolve the EuroVelo website trail map, and hence couldn’t determine where the exact route was. Reconciling that information with scarce green route markers, I chose to stick to the mostly quiet rural roads of Niederosterreich.

Fog lifted as I coasted down into Ernstbrunn mid morning, leading me to head east and then south towards Higgles. The undulations eventually became a gently, steady downhill through pretty villages, and on to Bisamberg. All bridges from the Donauweg could be crossed from here, so down I pedalled to Vienna on the north side.

The open shops today meant I had an afternoon mission, to go via the recommended (by Jan) XXL Sports, and that discount outdoor goods store we have come to love, Decathlon. Like the Girona store, it was inconveniently located on the motorway and railroad mess of the city fringe. In Vienna’s case, I navigated 18km from the Augarten, which ordinarily would be well under an hour. Add the constant stop-start of pedestrian lights and tram traffic, and it took an hour and a half.

Jacket comparisons, cycle gear and cheap swimming pull buoys, I came out with plenty of change from €50. The light was fading but I pressed on to XXL at Donau zentrum, 20km back in a homeward direction. An hour and a half later, I pulled up to The Mall. All lights and glamour, quick action was required; I was tired and hungry. ‘Five seasons’ brand was scoped out, and two jackets retained for another 24 hour hold.

There was plenty to report back to the buyer in NZ that evening.

Decisions made, I went on a final sporting goods mission the next day. First up was back to XXL, then on the opposite side of the city, going south to Baden, a spa town 35km away, and also via decathlon at Vosendorf. Almost on a first name basis with the security guard by now, little did he know I’d be back for a third and final time that afternoon.

The same misty weather pattern gave way to a beautiful sunny day, such that spending it indoors in a make-believe Roman spa, Romentherme, didn’t seem quite right. Still, that association with Beethoven living here and bathing in the sulphurous water was bound to address something therapeutically, like my growing left Achilles problem.

Amongst the retired crowd, of all shapes sizes, there was a stillness in the air that lent itself to just physically and mentally letting it all hang out. An hour in the 34C pool did me, and should I exceed the three hours for €15 mark, it was possible

to pay per minute.

It was mid afternoon that I headed home, and the EuroVelo was better identified here, called the Thermenradweg. That led me back via Laxenburg, and my final days stop, decathlon, again. You can never have enough 30 pack hand warmers when traveling with P2 in winter, and additionally, I got what I’d always been searching for, a mini bike foot pump, with a pressure gauge for long haul cycle trips. Testing it out in the shop, there’s hopefully going to be no more air compressors like in Wolfsegg!
Fingers crossed.

It was dark when I pedalled into the City, Viennese cycling etiquette demanding acute attention even when I had my auto front and rear lights. What might seem like a war path bike rider, or Lime scooter rider coming towards you, could be. Pulling up at stops it’s a first come first served arrangement, so if you’re caught behind a slower coach, it’s a long ride home. Near seamless road and pavement levels are however both a good and bad attribute, as I’ve come a cropper with tyres abutting and not ‘mounting’ the curb several times.

Rest was in order, the Achilles crying out for reasons I could only put down to too much fixed front suspension and ankling when climbing hills. Thanks to the Austrian apotheke staff in Vosendorf, over the counter 600mg brufen would hopefully be the medication saviour I needed.

Feeling marginally better the next day, I wandered down to Brigittenau swimming pool on Klosterneuberger Straße, only to immediately turn to leave when it transpired there’s one lane for all, including a school group
of children. It wasn’t that important to swim!

Remarkably feeling ok walking, I instead made a cycle jaunt to Donau insul, what Viennese cyclist forums seem to refer to as the definition of seeking freedom. Golden foliage and that misty weather combined with mid week dog walkers or joggers, so in relative peace, you can ride for miles. In 90 mins I’d crossed over from Augarten, and three quarters circumnavigated the island, with still a return leg to go from the southernmost point at Hafen Wien.

Riding bliss continues with the EuroVelo 6 following the northern Donau, around some dense water based industry, and under, on this day, the flight path of arrivals into Vienna Flughafen.

When the sun came out I had made it to the start of the Donau Auen, a National park. It was almost nice enough to swim at the many pontoons river side on my return to Vienna. The water is clean!

By now a few contingencies had built up that l needed to return to Vienna Explorer. I got the bike changed after the mix up with that supplied, tips from the mechanic on local rides, and made the down payment/ set the plans for 2020s return. It’s was so golden outside, I made a deviation to Stephansplatz afterward. Then I knew why I’d so far avoided it. Stunning, versus our last wet weather visit, yet so very crowded. Oh, Vienna.

Additional photos below
Photos: 37, Displayed: 28


Tot: 0.526s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 9; qc: 57; dbt: 0.0122s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb