It wasn’t exactly Instagram weather for the runners doing the Linz Marathon this morning: thick fog, with a visibility of less than five metres. A hot-air balloon, burners roaring, was preparing for take-off, which seemed a trifle optimistic.
The lack of views wasn’t going to trouble us unduly though. We spent all day following the Danube Path. And while the stretch from Passau to here is one of the classically beautiful bike rides of the world, the bit between here and Vienna ain’t. It’s largely a run of factories, chemical works, sluice gates, and service roads across bland flat floodplain. I could hardly have been happier though.
It was clammy, cold, and wintry. Leafless trees took fuzzy shape out the mist. Glum mallards sat stock still, doubled by perfect reflections in the still water. End-to-End cyclists slid along the tarmac. All was silent. Well, except for Nigel’s onboard sound system playing Earth, Wind and Fire.
Eventually, around midday – on a part of the path that cut inland for a few kilometres – the sun came out, and we had a beautiful autumn afternoon. We rejoined the riverside and enjoyed a few hours’ flat cycling, not minding the slight headwind. Glorious stuff.
Our lunch stop was in Grein. With my native Yorkshire radar for spotting bargains, I spied a lunch deal at a nice little cafe right on the waterside. Soup, schnitzel and chips, and delicious moist tasty cake, all for under ten euros.
We could eat right opposite our bikes, which was just as well, seeing as I’d just discovered that I must have left my lock somewhere in Mannheim.
The afternoon was full of cycling along the river, on smooth paths, and a few bits of road. We stopped for a snack on a waterside bench in the sun. There was no doubting when we got to Melk: the historic town square is dominated by a grand abbey perched on a rock.
And in case we weren’t sure, four yellow benches in said square were in shapes that spelt M-E-L-K – conveniently for photographic purposes, overlooked by our hotel room balcony.
We enjoyed a pleasant evening round the old town. Dinner in the Madar Restaurant, next to the Madar Shop, and a drink or two in the Madar Pub, near the Madar Hotel. Meetings of the local chamber of commerce presumably take place in a living room somewhere.
Miles today: 68
Miles since Bangs: 450