Nuremburg to Krems an der Donau (Austria)

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Sep 09, 2010

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Flag of Austria  , Lower Austria,
Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monday 19th July. Nuremburg to West of Regensburg (107 km)

After another typically over optimistic alarm time and many uses of the snooze function on Jim's phone we eventually arose to a light breakfast at 9am. After the talented Chrissy 'goat fence' Ruger took a few more photos we eventually attempted to leave Nuremburg at 11am, our attempts were in vain as we quickly got lost. Having finally located our route out of the city we stopped for quick energy hit from the gusto stock of snacks that Chrissy had sent us packing with, with chocolate peanuts and bananas the obvious choice!

We then made brilliant progress East before stopping for a bread and tinned herrings lunch in an Aldi car park in Neumarkt, it really does not get any wilder than this! We were soon back on the bikes and once again (surprising even ourselves) made brilliant progress East and made camp/hammock only 10 km West of Regensburg. The day was warm and clouds scarce so we were able to set our hammocks up in the trees above a nice quiet lay-by. We then treated ourselves to a self-prepared local speciality of Regensburg’s finest bangers fried up with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, served with ciabatta bread and a cracking spicy schnitzel sauce called zigeuner. We both slept soundly helped by full bellies and a good sense of achievement after a long afternoon of hilly cycling!  

Tuesday 20th July. West of Regensburg to Straubing (66 km)

We once again awoke later than planned and after packing up and as always leaving no foot print of our presence, we rolled down the final 10 km of the Danube drainage basin to the student city of Regensburg. After grabbing a quick Weiner Schnitzel and a coffee for breakfast (it honestly seemed like the best value item on the menu) and locking our bikes in a nice busy public area we began to explore the city. There were various highlights including Dom St Peter and the Steinerne Brucke but it was mainly the general vibe of the city and the small side streets that we enjoyed most about Regensburg. After finding a nice cafe with free wireless internet and what we believed to be Danube cycle path map we left the city much later than planned but in high spirits and keen to reach Passau as soon as possible.

The late afternoon cycle was pleasant but fairly uneventful due to the fairly continuous high flood barrier next to the river and regular diversions through fairly uninteresting farm land. Progress was good though and we made it to our destination for the night which was a campingplatz in Straubing, where we knew the washing facilities were free, things had begun to get a little pongy of late! After a couple of beers, chatting to some lovely campers and being served by an untypically rude German we slept well with the washing in the dryer. Being the only tent in our field there was no snoring to be heard, other than that of ourselves (it’s a fairly uncommon occurrence and can be almost pleasant at times)! 

It was awesome to reopen our acquaintance with the Danube today and a nice feeling to know that the next week or two would be spent cycling along the mighty river’s tailor-made cycle paths. The most important factor being that we would be cycling DOWN RIVER!

Danube Quiz time....... The Danube is the only river in the world that passes through four capital cities, can you name them? Answers in the comments section please.

Wednesday 21st July. Straubing to Passau (102 km)

We awoke early (yes) and cycled into Straubing for coffee where Jim was able to toast his three year anniversary to his girlfriend and finally open his card, only to find another one inside to be opened on 1st August! Straubing had a definite Italian feel to it and had a nice long and narrow main square on which friendly old timers chatted to each other and school children played. We left for Passau at 11am in the full knowledge that we had a good 100 km ride ahead of us.

For some unknown reason the day’s cycle was particularly gruelling and we both struggled to get the bikes moving at a decent pace, after a bratwurst and tomato sandwich for lunch the post lunch cycle was even harder and the km countdown to Passau became almost unbearable. A little treat for Jim was Linton harmlessly skidding off his bike and blaming the whole incident on a poor innocent child cyclist who simply activated his break in preparation for the forthcoming sharp turn!

We slowly slogged our way into Passau at 7 pm and planned a quick internet stop, pizza dinner and look round before heading back to the cycle path to find somewhere to wild camp. The internet stop was quick, however over dinner we began to discuss the possibility of staying in Passau for the night. Our kind waiter Pascal tried but failed to convince his boss to let us stay at his hotel for free after he learnt of our trip, Jim then began to chat to a group of three students outside a bar and this turned out to be a great move. Our new friends Paul and Maurice tried to find us a bed for the night at a local bike hostel but this was closed, so after buying us a few beers they eventually found a friend to take us in for the night. Once a place to sleep for the night was secured we stayed in the bar until late with the students and their many friends who came and went as the night progressed. This was probably our best night out of the trip so far and it was probably the most unplanned, that’s usually how these things work! The night was made all the more interesting due to the fact that a local young politician trying to make a name for himself, by banning indoor smoking across Barvaria, began filming and interviewing local chimneys about the pros and cons of the smoking ban, pretty sure we were on TV a good few times!

A massive thanks to Paul, Maurice and Jenny for their hospitality and kindness, it was more than appreciated. Hope to see Paul and Maurice at Glastonbury 2011!

Thursday 22nd July. Passau to Aschach (75 km)

After an amazingly comfortable sleep on a sofa bed our new friends of Passau treated us to a great continental breakfast, leading Linton to discover the delights of Philadelphia and honey on bread. Cracking.

We left their ridiculously plush student accommodation to venture to the furthest eastern point of the old town where the three rivers of the Danube, Inn and the Ilz meet. This was a beautiful spot as it was another lovely day and the different colours of the conjoining rivers a sight to behold. We rejoined the cycle path out of the city where the river narrowed and the valley became steep and mountainous as we entered Austria, creating some breathtaking scenery which blew us away. We stopped after a couple of hours cycling on the bank of the river where we had a much needed snooze to compensate for the late night previous.

Rested and rejuvenated we cycled on following our "cycle map" believing we were making good progress until the asphalt path ended and the rockier path became steep. Puzzled and confused we struggled on until the path became practically impassable with bikes, we again studied the map. This time however we glanced at the front cover, at this moment we realised that the map we had obtained a few days earlier was in fact a hiking map, a dead giveaway really due to the smiling couple on the front in full hiking gear at the summit of a mountain. Whoops. We probably should’ve realised this sometime earlier as the cycle path had previously been abundant with cyclists whereas now there wasn’t a bike in sight, other than muggings one and two’s bikes! We swore and blamed each other for some time before venturing back down the mountain and on to the nice, flat asphalt cycle path. On a way back to find the bridge we saw a man with a dog and a boat who had witnessed our misfortune and he explained that the only way to get to the cycle path was to head back some 10km. He explained though that he would take us across the river back to the cycle path free of charge rather than us travelling all the way back. After our half hour struggle up the mountain we felt this was a legitimate move as he was merely taking us to the opposite bank and we had travelled much further than we should’ve done already.

The rest of the day’s cycle was again incredible with more of the same fantastic views, tired and exhausted we called it a day at a town called Aschach some 40 km into Austria. After stopping at the local Spar we met a Hungarian who was incredibly once again called "Daniel", he was doing a similar trip to us only from Ireland to Hungary (not quite as far as us though). After chatting for a while about our relative trips he told us that he had arranged to stay on someone’s land by the river and we were welcome to join him, we politely accepted the invitation. While cooking Daniel some dinner and sharing a beer, we were then invited by a local art group who were partaking in an instrument making workshop to come and join them within their campus. We again politely obliged and spent the rest of the evening sheltered from the ongoing storm, chatting and playing their strange percussion instruments they had crafted. A great end to a peculiar day.  

Friday 23rd July. Aschach to Grein (98 km)

We awoke to an amusing surprise for Linton any way with Jim once again being comprehensively Avatared! After breakfast of bread and homemade jam (remember Sandra from Heidelburg) we headed out onto the cycle path once again with Daniel the slightly crazy but awesome Hungarian in tow. Leaving our friend in the town of Linz we eventually arrived in Mauthausen for lunch on a private lawn (the gardener didn’t seem to mind) and feasted on a cracking cheese and tomato baguette with some mature mayonnaise. After lunch we went in search of the Mauthausen memorial to commemorate those who died in the concentration camp nearby, unfortunately it was closed.

 Slightly annoyed at missing this opportunity to pay our respects we cycled without stopping for 48km, our longest without a break yet. We arrived in the town of Grein just in time to get into the local Aldi/Hofer to get some supplies for the night’s dinner, as Jim navigated the aisles Linton ran in to demand the purchase of beers as a storm at suddenly hit the small town while Jim was inside. We weren’t going anywhere for some time, our luck had finally run out. We sheltered for four hours under the trolley park of the supermarket keeping busy by making a decent ratatouille and consuming the well ordered beers hoping to see out the storm. It didn’t go. At 11pm and considering our few options we made the decision to put up our tent on the only piece of grass in the Aldi car park. At the lowest point of the trip so far we did question what the hell we were doing, although with this being the first piece of bad luck we had suffered we didn’t get too despondent. We would have definitely stretched our budget to some cheap accommodation that night but the rain was too persistent to even leave the supermarket!

Badger you wanted our blog to include more tales of nightmares, you got one!

Saturday 24th July. Grein to Krems an der Donau (86 km)

We awoke to find our tent surrounded by the cars of the Aldi staff so thought it best to make haste and get out of our supermarket nightmare, so we headed towards the centre of the small town to make a coffee and warm up. The rain was still steadily falling but we decided to cycle on knowing that we needed to arrive in Vienna by Sunday mid afternoon for a special appointment!

We cycled a good 25 km in the rain with plenty of cars splashing us and we arrived in a small town very cold and wet. We picked a lucky local cafe in which to dry ourselves and it turned out to be a real treat of a breakfast, a griddle pan full of ham and eggs greeted us and we warmed up sufficiently to cycle on to Krems with four cool Austrian guys who were doing a mini cycle tour from Linz back to their hometown Vienna, the rain had eased a little by this point. The cycle to Krems was a lovely route with the lovely walled village of Durnstein being a particular highlight, despite the abundance of yanks! After locating an internet cafe to send a very important email regarding our very important appointment in Vienna we met the four guys for a quick beer with our new friend Martin, who was cycling from Switzerland to Moldova.   

The rain then began to come down hard again so with Martin we checked into a clean but basic hostel and cooked our new friend a decent chilli con carne. We all slept soundly in the comfortable bunk beds and discussed meeting up again post Budapest to cycle towards Romania together. We hope this will happen as he was a true gent like his fellow country man Roger Federer!

PLEASE NOTE - we will be live from Slovakia on BBC Essex radio at 09:40 on the morning of the 28th July. Please listen!

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