Tag Archives: Austria


Day 15: Vienna, Austria to Laa an der Thaya, Austria

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Start: Vienna, Austria
End: Laa an der Thaya, Autria
Distance: 75.5km
Elevation Gain: 2478ft
Elevation Loss: 2416ft
Time: 6h08m
Reading Material: The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown – Hugh Agnew (figured I should bone up on my Czech history as I’m basically crossing the country twice);
Audio Material: The World in Words Podcast; Re:Sound; Nerdist podcast

After several days exploring Vienna, it’s time to start heading to Krakow. I’ve chosen another EuroVelo-inspired route. Sometimes called the Krakow-Moravia-Wien Greenways trail or the Amber Route (either an ancient trade route or a nice piece of marketing). The planned route is about 700km in length and might take 8-9 days of cycling with a few stops along the way (Brno, caves, Ostrava, Auschwitz).

Today was a bit of backtracking from Vienna north to the Czech border. To keep things interesting, I plotted an alternate route that conveniently landed me in Laa an der Thaya, a thermal spring town just a few km from the border.

Unbeknownst to me, today was Ascension Day — a public holiday in Austria. This meant the streets were empty as I bicycled away under blue skies at 830am. Unfortunately, it also meant I wasn’t able to get a farewell breakfast bagel from my local cafe. I had a beautiful farewell cycle through Vienna and up the entire length of Danube Island, much friendlier than the route I took on the way in. Twenty km north of the city, I was able to stop and get a proper breakfast — espresso + marmalade rolls.

The remainder of the ride was on quiet backcountry roads and some stinky fields freshly fertilized. Achtung Wildwechsel! (Beware Wild Children?)

Don’t tell anyone, but I decided to stay an extra day and enjoy the thermal springs in Laa. I’m a sucker for hot tub soaking — hopefully this doesn’t ruin my cred.



Day 14: Poysdorf, Austria to Vienna, Austria

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Start: Poysdorf, Czech Republic
End: Vienna, Austria
Distance: 86.6km
Elevation Gain: 1916ft
Elevation Loss: 1993ft
Time: 6h31m
Reading Material: A History of the Jews – Paul Johnson; Attempting Normal – Marc Maron
Audio Material: Sound Opinions, Planet Money (lots of “is Economics a science?” discussion after the Reinhart/Rogoff Excel error)

Arrived in Vienna a bit ahead of schedule. This last section follows EuroVelo Route 9 into Wien, a section I might repeat in reverse when heading to Brno and then Poland.

The last ~20km was spent tackling the sprawl of Northeast Vienna. Pretty much a straightshot, but the drab cityscape goes on for a long time before the Vienna you remember from covers of philosophy textbooks appears. All sources indicated that Vienna would be a bike-friendly town. And, indeed, there are dedicated bike lanes on many roads. However, they also end unexpectedly with poor signage and occasional misplaced curbs.

One positive aspect of this bike lane confusion is that I had my first opportunity of the trip to exchange the universally understood bicycle/motorist salute: the raised middle finger. Like Prague, Boston and many other elder cities, Vienna is built along a river. However, unlike those other cities, the main bridges over the Danube River do not have bike or pedestrian lanes. I was following what I thought was a bicycle lane over the 4-lane wide Gürtelbrücke bridge. The lane ended and I was forced onto the roadway. Two hundred meters or so later, a sidewalk appeared but with constant traffic, a fully loaded bicycle and high curb to navigate, I deemed it safer to continue pedaling with traffic over the bridge. A woman two lanes over leaned her head out of the passenger window and yelled at me. She was a good 10 car lengths ahead by the time I flipped the bird but luckily I was acknowledged with the reply. I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to be welcomed to Vienna after two weeks of bicycling from Berlin.



Day 13: Slup, Czech Republic to Poysdorf, Austria

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Start: Slup, Czech Republic
End: Poysdorf, Austria
Distance: 80.1km
Elevation Gain: 2120ft
Elevation Loss: 2245ft
Time: 8h23m
Reading Material: A History of the Jews – Paul Johnson; Attempting Normal – Marc Maron
Audio Material: Marketplace; Channel Orange – Frank Ocean; West – Lucinda Williams

I’m getting my sea legs under me. Probably should have trained a bit before starting, but these first 12 days have done the trick. I covered 50km before lunch, aided by flat beautiful asphalt track. Supposedly, these narrow and straight tracks were created by the Soviets as a means to enforce the Czech border zone but someone has been spending time and money keeping them in great shape.

In addition to making it easy to spot humans, the tracks are favorite hangout spots for large bunny rabbits and snails. The bunnies are adept at running away from bicycles, I can’t say the same about the snails.

Transcendental moment zooming along at 35km/hr, listening to Lucinda Williams and turning my head to watch stands of trees covered in yellow leaves blur.

Stopped in Mikuluv for lunch and a quick tour of the local sights. After Prague, Mikuluv was the second largest Jewish community in Czech lands — nearly 50% of the town was Jewish in the 1750s. A few buildings remain along with a giant cemetery with its final burials coming from inhabitants killed in WWII.

Crossed the border into Austria where the crossing (thanks to Schengen) has been dismantled and only a few abandoned buildings and a sad museum remain. European border crossings no longer involve document checks (or electrified fence, for that matter) but now they require SIM card switches and ATM runs. Accomplished both at Poysdorf, a Napa Valley for Lower Austria, before finding a place for the night.


May Day

Happened upon what I assume was a raising of the May Pole in anticipation of May Day tomorrow. A marching band (oompah style, now that we’re close to Austria) and local firemen who raised the pole using tree branches in a method I was sure to result in injury to someone. Also, waist lines are definitely increasing as I approach Austria.