Monday 11.06.2012 Gaishofen - Feldkirchen (15 kms short of Linz)
Sometime today, we passed into Austria, but so obscure was the line, we never even noticed it. What we did notice and enjoy, was the change in the countryside. Today, we were riding through a forested gorge with the river immediately to our right for most of the time. However, before we could enjoy these views, we had first to negotiate Passau. We had sharpened our wits overnight and, in finely honed form, we were up for the challenge. It was all a bit of a damp squib really. Having a ruddy great river to follow probably helped a lot! Apart from a nerve racking road/bridge crossing, it went well. Passau is apparently a very beautiful Bavarian town but viewed from the quayside another picture is painted. The quayside was a jostle of people and souvenir shops. The people were either embarking or disembarking from various river cruisers and the shops were attempting to waylay them before they completed the short journey from coach to cruiser. The latter varied in size, but all were ostentatious. Nonetheless, I am sure they provided a thoroughly pleasant experience for those taking the holiday. (It’s sour grapes really. We thought an up-river cruise would be a relaxing way to finish our holiday but they wouldn’t take bikes! How inconvenient!)
Passau is a beautiful town. Although we saw little of its splendour close up, the views of the old town that we did see, confirmed the comments in the travel brochures. It helped, that for the first time in days, the sun shone intermittently and I was beginning to regret wearing long trousers.
The boat theme stayed with us all day. In addition to the cruisers, the river was more usefully providing a thoroughfare for huge barges. At least one was transporting an entire deck load of cars: of the other cargoes, we could only speculate as they were contained below deck. Not only cruisers and barges, but ferries played a role in our activities today. There were short sections of the gorge that no self- respecting path could cling to. On these occasions the ferryman and of course, his ferry, provided the means to continue. We took to the water twice, the first time in the wake of a barge, and the wash it caused reminded us of our sea legs.
It has been a beautiful experience today, and the rain has still held off! As usual, our search for accommodation was left to opportunity. Opportunity was not on our side, but with the help of a local restaurant owner, we have met a dear old Austrian lady who has made us welcome in a room. Well, three rooms actually!
Tomorrow we cross the path we followed last year (all things being equal) and will find ourselves more than half way to this year’s destination. Keeping our fingers crossed for a bit more sunshine. I want to wear my new shorts!