Day 2 -- Schlogen to Linz

In the morning I stood on tiptoes and peered out the small skylight window of my room overlooking the river. It was a gorgeous morning. The sky was deep blue and cloudless. A delicate mist hung over the river. The world looked pristine.

After breakfast we loaded up our bikes and headed east along our right bank of the Danube. The path here headed gently upwards through some woods.

Heading up through woods

Up ahead in about a mile we intended to take a bike-ferry across to the left bank, which we thought might be more interesting in this part of the river. But that's always a tough choice to make, and I suppose I can understand why the guide book wouldn't just come flat out and say "here we recommend the left bank."

A beautiful morning along the Danube

When we reached the little ramp at the river's edge where the ferry was supposed to be, there was no ferry. What were we supposed to do? There was a mobile home nearby and a woman was standing outside. Len asked her about the ferry, and she said we should use the telephone on the post to call the ferry man.

Calling the bike ferry

Len told the ferry man that we needed him to come and get us. I could hear on the speaker his reply in German. Apparently he didn't understand a word of English. There was some more this conversation where Len spoke English and the ferry man spoke German. Eventually he must have decided that we needed the ferry. We saw the boat coming around the bend in the river towards us. As it docked, the single passenger on the boat trotted off -- it was a dog.

A dog trots off the bike ferry

The dog did his morning business, and then trotted placidly back on the ferry. Obviously he went back and forth all day with his master. Good doggie.

This was a bit longer of a ferry ride, because the docking point on the left bank was up a little ways. What a great way to travel, we thought! For a minute or so we had a silly debate about whether we should turn off the GPSs while on the ferry. After all, we were getting "credit" for miles biked while we were sitting still. Well, so I cheated for a half mile or so.

On the north bank the path went through a cool, woodsy segment that was quite pleasant in the early morning sunshine. So far we hadn't seen any other bikers this morning. We had the place to ourselves.

We have the path to ourselves this morning

We often saw swans along the Danube, and this morning they added to the magic of the scene.

Swans on the Danube in the early morning

Rounding the bend by a solitary house

At about this point we saw what looked like viking boat coming towards us on the river. The oars were held high, and we heard chanting echoing across the river. Was this some tourist gimmick, or was it some group out for fun? Would we be attacked?

A Viking boat on the Danube

We made one of our wrong turns where the path left the river and crossed a stream. We followed the stream for a ways before we decided we weren't getting anywhere. Returning to the path we came back out on the Danube and the bike path sign pointed to a dock, rather than ahead along the bank. We weren't sure what to do. There were some other bikers lined up at the dock, apparently waiting for the ferry. A young woman looked at our bikes, and said, "You need a mountain bike up ahead if you're continuing on this side." Apparently the path climbed a hill up to a castle on an unpaved path. There wasn't anything in our guide book about this. I think Len wanted to try the hill, but we took the ferry back to the right (south) bank.

At lunch time we reached the town of Ashbach. It was a surprisingly beautiful place; certainly the prettiest town we had yet encountered. There was a long promenade and park along the river bank. We rode down a parallel road a block inland through the business district, looking for a grocery store. At the far end of the town we found one and walked through the store deciding what we would get for lunch. All of the grocery stores we entered during the trip we quite well stocked with many varieties of fruit and food. We compared these with the stores we had seen in Ireland, France, and England on previous trips. Here, even in the smallest towns, the grocery stores seemed to be better than those near my home in New Jersey.

Even though the grocery stores were well stocked, we never quite learned how to work the stores. In Ashbach the checkout attendant had to take our fruit back into the store and weigh it, while other customers waited patiently behind us. We had similar problems in other grocery stores, where we didn't know the drill.

We took our fruit and sandwiches and had a pleasant lunch sitting on a bench along the Ashbach promenade.

Lunch along the promenade in Ashbach

After lunch we saw a number of well-dressed people heading into the church. A coffin was rolled across the small square. In the midst of such beauty, a dark note had been sounded.

Heading out of Ashbach we rode through fields of wild flowers. From here to Vienna we were often surrounded by these wild flowers. I think they followed us.

Wild flowers border the path along the Danube

Typical scene approaching Ottenshein

Occasionally we would exchange greetings with other bikers. Along here, approaching the town of Ottenshein, we encountered a family from Belgium. They were lining up for a group picture, and Len volunteered to take the camera so the photographer could be in the picture. We spoke to them for a while, and the most remarkable thing was that the biking family included the grandmother, who was 80 years old. I took her picture. She sets a good example for all of us.

An 80-year old woman bikes the Danube path

At Ottenshein the right bank path abruptly ended, and we were forced to take a large ferry across to the left bank. From there the path to Linz was in the form of a sidewalk beside a major highway with considerable traffic. Of the whole 230-mile trip, I found this segment of perhaps five miles the least pleasurable.

Along the way we passed a young woman and a little girl, burdened with heavy panniers. Len imagined that it was a homeless mother and her little girl. We saw them again later in Linz and worried about them. It's hard not to make up stories about some of the people that you pass, and it was about here that Len was saying that you could tell a lot about people the way they responded to your "hello" as you passed them. There were people with big smiles and a warm greeting, and those that remained unresponsive and sometimes even sullen. It seemed everyone had a particularly unique response.

The approach to Linz was a little tricky. We stopped short of the bridge across to Linz and checked our maps. Len had the address of our hotel in Linz, and he set a "go to" on his GPS for that address. Now there was always an arrow on his GPS pointing in the direction of our hotel. If only the streets ran in the direction of the arrow!

We circled somewhat aimlessly around some city streets to get on the big bridge and eventually crossed into Linz, where we pushed our bikes across the main square.

The main square of Linz

Several times we got out the instructions from our information packet about how to find the hotel in Linz. They talked about crossing a small river, which we never saw, turning on streets that we couldn't find -- stuff like that. We put the instructions away for good and turned randomly on side streets and one-way streets, trying generally to go in the direction of the "go-to" arrow on Len's GPS. Eventually we got there -- the Arcotel hotel, a 12-story hotel on the river bank. We could see that there had been lots of easier ways to get there than how we had gone, but we consoled ourselves that we had gotten a tour of the city. The trip this day had totaled 36.6 miles, which was just a little short of what we had to average to arrive in Vienna on the sixth day.

After dumping our stuff in our rooms, we went out for a walk around the city. It was Saturday night in the big town, and the evening was as nice weather-wise as you could have. After walking up to the castle and all around the city looking unsuccessfully for a restaurant, we ended back in the main square, where we ate in one of the many outdoor cafes. It was a mideastern restaurant and we ordered lamb cutlets, which actually didn't taste like lamb. While we ate we kept watching the customers at the adjacent cafe, which was an ice cream cafe. We saw these mountainous desserts with ice cream, fruit, and whipped cream. Who could resist? We paid our bill and moved over a table or two to the other restaurant, where we had disgusting desserts.

Irresistible desserts

We walked back to the hotel in the darkening evening. I was especially impressed with the architecture of the modern art museum along the bank of the river.

The Museum of Modern Art in Linz

We walked through the empty center area of this museum that framed the river. I walked square into a transparent plaque. My nose was never quite straight anyway.

In the dusk of the park along the river there were many groups of young people sitting in the grass. Each group had formed a circle. It looked like a congenial way to spend a beautiful Saturday night on the river in July.

Socializing on the river in Linz

The tall building in the distance in this picture was our hotel. When I got to my room for the night, I went to get my guide book to look at the itinerary for the next day. It was gone. Obviously I had lost it somewhere on the way into Linz. I had been fussing with the way it was seated on my handlebar bag for the whole trip this far. It was a little too wide to fit in the plastic map holder, so I had been constantly trying different ways to tie it on top. None of these attempts was very successful, and I had now paid the price. It was a bit of a down way to end what had been a beautiful day.

Proceed to Day 3 of the Danube trip

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