Bree: It had occurred to us that we might take a rest day after our 100 mile feat yesterday and especially after getting so little sleep, but after the mosquitoes last night, and the ants which were crawling all over everything, we were not exactly loving our campsite. Our next stop was Vienna and then onto a train, and we figured we’d rather rest somewhere we actually wanted to be. We knew we would have a tough tough ride to Vienna (another forty some odd miles), but it seemed perhaps no worse than doing the mosquito dance all day long.
Ben: As might be expected, morning came too soon. In fact, it came so soon that we plain ignored it and slept in until sometime around 8:30. The wind, which was predicted to be a steady 10 mph from the northwest (the direction we were headed today) for pretty much the entire day, was much stronger in the early hours so we rolled over and slept it off.
Once the wind did quiet down a little, we ate breakfast and broke camp, leaving a full 2 hours later than we usually like to. Thankfully there was plenty of cloud cover and the temperature was supposed to be 9* Fahrenheit cooler than yesterday, so we weren’t in too big of a hurry.
Riding out into the rolling hills of Austria, we couldn’t help but feel like we were in Bear Lake. It had similar winds, similar terrain, and even a lot of the same crops (plus some vineyards, of course). We were able to stay on some really quiet roads and cycle paths, making for quite a lovely ride.
We must have been worn down from yesterday’s ride and a poor night’s sleep though, because the miles just didn’t seem to roll on by. We were making a reasonable pace, but the ride felt so LONG.
Today, everything was closed- we must have passed a dozen grocery stores as we rode and not one was open. It is apparently Corpus Christi, which might explain why the roads were so quiet and why we saw so many cyclists on a Thursday morning. Rolling through the small towns, we would see altars in the streets (usually just tables with candles on them). We even ran into what seemed to be some version of mass being held in the street, blocking our path. The main highway through the town was blocked off by police, and dozens of people gathered in a circle to watch the procession. There were several military personnel standing in line, as well as a choir singing “Praise to the Lord”, or at least a song with that particular tune since we have some trouble understanding German.
If there is one word that I can use to define Austria, it is “flowers”. Flowers are everywhere here.
I noticed it even two or three nights ago as we crossed from Slovenia over the Austrian border, where wild flowers grew along the side of the road. Here, there are flowers everywhere.
There are a lot of wild ones wherever space is permitted in addition to the fields of recently bloomed sunflowers, but it also seems that every community space is filled with very neat arrangement of various colors of flowers. Even some of the town signs are lined with a bouquet. Occasionally, as we would pass vineyards, rose bushes could be seen at the end of many of the rows of grapes. Apparently flowers are also used with the celebration of Corpus Christi. Many of the streets were absolutely covered with petals, and pots containing flowers were wheeled out onto the sidewalks.
After what seemed like forever, we finally made it to Vienna. The problem was that we still had 15 kilometers to go. How is that possible? We have noticed that there is little to no suburban sprawl in the cities here. Typically, as soon as we would enter a city we were almost to our destination. City riding is slow, though, and it took a very long time to weave through the nearly-silent streets that further describe how big of a thing Corpus Christi is here.
We stopped at some palace for lunch which we had stumbled on while following our GPS’s directions. We make horrible tourists- We just roll into a place and check it out, having no clue what we are looking at our the history behind it even as mobs of tourists swarm the place. I wandered around, taking pictures, while Bree laid on the grassy slope of a gloriette.
(Bree’s note: Ben is ridiculously nice and won’t tell you that what I had actually done was flop onto the grass because I was too tired to do sit on my bike for one more second…and we still had 8 km to go. Seriously, today’s ride was way tougher for me than yesterday’s and I am still feeling every mile as I sit in the tent!) Turns out we were overlooking the Schonbrunn Palace, which has a long history including belonging to the Hapsburgs.
After navigating a surprisingly many gravel paths through parks and trees for the center of Vienna, we finally made the last few kilometers to camp, definitely ready to call it a day.