Tandem Tour 2018 Part 4: Ottensheim to Dürnstein

In light rain we continued along the north path towards Linz. We decided not to cross the river into the city, but rather to shelter under the entrance to the Information centre in Urfahr (the partner town to Linz on the north bank). An hour later we moved on in light rain.

Deceptive sun, Linz

There is no functional path on the south because of a sizeable industrial area. It can be viewed from the north for those interested in such areas (myself included; the river’s frequent hydro plants are extraordinary constructions). As we hugged the bank of the river the weather improved. At Abwinden the path moves inland for a short way, through St Georgen and rejoining the river at Langenstein.

Rural idyll. A quiet Danube

We took a break at Mauthausen; the town’s Nazi history – large labour camp and its satellites – is confronted in memorials, activities/seminars, etc. Austria was annexed by the Nazis in 1938. This part of Austria had a significant cluster of labour camps where prisoners (many of them non-German) were worked, in many cases, to death in quarries, mines, munitions and aircraft factories.

Then on to Au, where there is a campsite, with “Badesee” and other water attractions. The tranquility of this stretch is wonderful: the Danube at its best. It is easy to make progress on the dykes. Inland again through Mitterkirchen.  The sun was by this time dominant, though on the approach to Grein we met both a road and railway. The campsite is located on the path to the south side of the town.

Grein is a lovely town. In the market square one finds the Town Hall and a host of cafes and restaurants. Sunday night is a shade limited. We went to a sort-of-Italian restaurant (with significant Greek influence on the menu, Pizzaria La Vita) frequented by locals and campers. We had not fully accounted for the Austrian laws that do allow smoking in restaurants. This place was like going back in time in the UK. The fug was extraordinary and the environment unpleasant. Sitting outside was not an option because the temperature had dropped significantly.

For breakfast we started at the bakery in the marketplace (smoke free) and then to the Konditorei on the bank of the river for a second coffee. There is in the town a fantastic bicycle shop. It reminded me of childhood. Everything had a place and it smelled of oil – bicycle oil, that is. Marvellous. My beloved bought a new cycle jersey that smelled, until it met with some soapy water, of that bicycle shop.

Across the ferry to the south side where the track was again dedicated. Beautiful in the sunshine, tree-lined and hugging the river. Not too many refreshment options before Ybbs. There we found another baker’s shop and ate outrageous (by which I mean large and full of gooey nice stuff) pastries and coffee in the sun.

23 kilometers further through the vineyards and orchards is Melk. This is always a reminder that, whilst I may be on holiday, many people are not, especially the migrant workers who harvest the grapes. Lots of migrant labour is in evidence, trying to earn money for their families, let alone a holiday. I should not need to be reminded.

We half had a mind to stay there at a campsite on the river just short of Melk. We were slightly put off by its location, adjacent to a mooring for large cruise ships – industrial scale holidaying – of which there were five already decanting their load on to waiting coaches. Plus, we were feeling fit and up for a little further in what turned out to be a sunshine-blessed day. From a distance, the monastery at Melk is visible; it is imposing and against the backdrop of blue sky, worth a photo (above left). But we were soon on our way.

The path is quite challenging at this point. The valley becomes very steep – there is a bit of climbing to do on the road close to Schönbühel. Slightly beyond that is Aggstein. The Gasthaus there has a nice garden. We stopped for more food (locally-grown pumpkins are very much a feature of Gasthaus menus in the area, so I opted for Kurbis soup). Then finally on to Rossatz which really just emerges along the route. It is a curious campsite – patches of grass on the roadside, but it was a suitable end to the day, and the night-time view across the river to Dürnstein (right) seems justification enough.

 

 

 

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