OE Day 18 Vienna to Brastislava 72km

A new country Slovakia at the end of today’s short ride. Vienna was relatively easy to get out of apart from the traffic lights where you aged as you waited. Soon into open country.

And visiting a summer palace. Those poor royals needed to escape the pressures of their town life.

Buildings start to change now in this border region. Single story in the main. Border crossing is as it should be (easy). And then a new language.

Bratislava is the only capital that borders on two countries, Austria and Hungary. It has a long avenue of display boards celebrating Eliz 11 70 anniversary. She made an impact in 2008!

OE Vienna 2

A forced tour of coffee and cake shops with the odd diversion to gape at some more grandeur. You’ll have spotted that Barbara was in Art Noveaux baths not Baroque yesterday.

The wealth to create such a place boggles the imagination. Somehow it all fits though and isn’t OTT. Must keep the equivalent of Cadw or English Heritage busy. Even the Hapsburg place (or one of them) is getting a makeover. They all seem open so can’t have any Historic Scotland gurus advising on making life difficult for visitors.

The Botanic Gardens probably mean a lot to botanists. Weeds and welcome shade to me. Not even statues they came in abundance in the next door Belvedere park grounds.

Been a lovely two days exploring and getting lost with Mrs Google Maps which makes it all interesting. Tomorrow into Slovakia and Brastislava.

OE Vienna 1

A rest day, 1 of 2 here. Vienna has a population of about 2 million, wide urban area 3 million. So on a par with Wales.

Wales, rather Cardiff, had the Butes and their unbelievable wealth. Vienna had the Hapsburgs and years of being a cultural centre. Which it wears well. Wide cycle lanes running parallel with trams. Why did we get rid of trams and the infrastructure?

Service is mixed. Germanic efficiency mixed with Highland timescales. There’s no rush though as we meander the inner city. No prevarication or messing about here: their Parliament is being modernised as a statement of democratic value. I’d of course forgotten that democracy is relatively young here, from 1920s on with a 1932- 47(?) gap.

Barbara went for a swim in some Baroque civic baths. I had a snooze

OE Day 17. Melk to Vienna 123k.

Just like home. Low hanging clouds dripping the trees, light rain then heavier. Lush.

OK, the orchards of apples, pears and vines were different. So too the villages, each taking pride in a wine.

A good tail wind and soon in Vienna. Although there’s plenty of touring cyclists on the trails, as in the other towns, cars dominate. A good cycling infrastructure not being used cf Germany.

We’re stopping for two days. Our last full day of chucking of cycling in Austria.

OE Day 16 Linz to Melk 110k

A route of 3 parts. The first industrial. The second sobering. The third a waltz along the Beautiful Blue Danube.

We left Linz via the industrial sector and its steelworks. Reminiscent of Port Talbot with its cacophony of towers and pipework. Barbara was in her element.

Mauthausen concentration camp Memorial. How did anyone survive? The effect on the liberating Ċ£roops reminded me of my Dad’s story. The thin veil of civilisation with humanities dark underbelly. How we need to guard against those who trample so casually on democratic institutions, including at home.

The flowing waters we follow change the mood. Most of the day we were by the working river. And gaping at the flood levels it has reached.

Melk has a rather grand Abbey. Described as the world’s best Baroque [Benedictine] Abbey. It shows the wealth and power of religion. However well used or abused. The Allstadt beneath is a fine collection of medieval buildings. The brass band playing has probably done so for millennia. Unless the Monks complained…..