Self-Guided Trip from Passau-Vienna is Ideal for Family
by Karen Rubin, Eric Leiberman and Dave E. Leiberman
In the morning of our second day on the Danube Bike Trail, we have another wonderful buffet-style breakfast of breads, cheeses, meats, coffee and juice in a most charming breakfast room at the Landguesthouse Dieplinger in Eferding.
At breakfast, we meet Anthony, a nutritionist and holistic practitioner from Vancouver BC who made career change from photographer (architecture). He is traveling on his own without any pre-determined route or arranged accommodations – essentially doing the great explore the fellows would have wanted to do. (During the course of our trip, it is surprising how few Americans we meet – mostly Europeans and Canadians.)
Following the directions provided by the bike tour company, we bike over bridge to the north side of the Danube toward Linz – surprised to find ourselves going through cornfields and farms, and then, just as Justin suggested, we come to an amazing recreation facility consisting of a series of ponds where people swim, there is even this contraption that people use for water skiing. It is the weekend, and families are gathered on the grassy areas that surround the ponds like a beach.
The fellows go “native” and go for a swim – how could you pass up the opportunity!
We ride through what seems to me to be an enchanted forest, then through citified area into Linz, where as coincidence would have it, we meet up with Anthony again.
Justin, the bike tour company representative, has told us during our orientation that one of the attractions in Linz is a tram ride from main square to the mountaintop where there is a church, for a great view.
The tram is fun – it takes at least one-hour for the roundtrip (costs 16.50 E for the three of us), and is a great way to relax after the biking, but it puts us way behind schedule.
Linz is a large and interesting city, with much to see. Even though it is becoming late in the afternoon, we still go through the old town – to the Neuer Dom (New Cathedral), which is supposed to be the second biggest in Austria with a capacity for 20,000. Justin has told us that the Cathedral would have been the biggest, but the Emperor did not allow it to be finished because it would have been bigger than the one in Vienna. I find the Cathedral large but unimpressive and cold, and it doesn’t help that the hall if filled with a sermon (recorded) by what sounds as an African preacher in English. More interesting to me is the Landhaus, a 16 century Renaissance building, that serves as government offices. (For tourism info, www.linz.at/english/)
It is already 5:30 pm before we leave Linz. I realize that there is no way we are going to be able to visit Mauthausen concentration camp which would already be closed for the day, let alone the old city of Enns, which Justin has said is really special.
We make it nearly to Enns, where we were supposed to visit the old city, and then take the ferry back to the other shore, which was a necessity because the Danube Bike Trail suspends on this side before it picks up again. We go straight to the ferry landing, but by the time we got there, at 7:18 pm, we learn that it stops running at 7 pm.
Now we are really in a kerfuffle.
As we are contemplating our predicament (this is the stuff of adventure, after all), a nice man on a motorcycle sees our distress. Though he doesn’t speak English, he realizes our plight and we realize he wants to lead us to an alternate way to get across the river. It turns out to be the main road and he patiently convinces us that that is the way we have to go. We have to go over two bridges – the second one, I do not see where to use a walkway, so we bike with the traffic in the dusky grey light. Definitely verboten.
This puts us right into Mauthausen and we see signs for “Memorial Center”. This was the concentration camp which Justin had told us about – I had never heard of it before – but I had already realized that we wouldn’t have been able to get here in time to visit that day, anyway.
It is four miles from Mauthausen to Au/Donau, our destination.
We continue on as night falls, as the trail turns back from the river into the countryside, through cornfields. It is a good thing I looked at our map to see where the guesthouse was. We have to overshoot where the trail turns to follow a canal, and make a left turn onto a small road to get to the guesthouse, just as the night envelopes us in complete darkness.
The Guesthouse Jägerwirt proves to be the most charming, wonderful at all, and such a welcome sight after our adventure. It is family owned, traditional, with a cozy fireside lounge, a conservatory, a hunter room. In fact, the inn has an earthy feel of a hunting lodge.
Our rooms are delightful – clean, comfortable and charming, TV, private bath, even WiFi. The boys’ room has a balcony overlooking the courtyard garden.
It is nearly 9 pm at this point, and we have not had dinner. Though the kitchen would otherwise be closing, Johanna Landerl, the proprietor, make arrangements for us to dine.
The inn actually has been a restaurant for decades. We dine in the courtyard garden.
The potato soup gets rave reviews from the boys. I have spinach dumpling with cheese that is out of this world – the sauce is perfect – light and flavorful. The fellows have fish. We eat slowly to savor every bite, and reflect on our adventure of the day…
The waitress, who is studying at college, interprets for us, as Johanna tells us the story of her family and the inn. They came to the area decades ago for the woods – the lumber was used for most of the construction through much of the region. The Jägerwirt has been a restaurant since 1867, and about 30 years ago, she turned it into a (guesthouse).
At dinner, we resolve to backtrack to Mauthausen Concentration Camp the next morning. It is too important to miss.
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Danube Bike Trail Ride is Trip of a Lifetime
On the Danube Bike Trail, Day 4: Persenbeug-Durnstein-Krems
On the Danube Bike Trail, Days 5-6: Krems-Tulln-Vienna
On the Danube Bike Trail: Seeing Vienna by Bike
Thursday, 24 May, 2012
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