Eine Fahrt Entlang der 6 Donauradweg

Eine Fahrt Entlang der 6 Donauradweg

Dick, a good friend with whom I worked in Haz Mat at the County of San Diego Environmental Health Department and I have kept in touch since he switched jobs years ago. He retires this week from the City of San Diego. It has been over two years since our cycle trip along the Danube. I have put off writing up the trip long enough; so, as it’s a blustery fall day I have resolved to get it done. Another reason I finally got started was a promise I made to dear 98-year-old friend that I visited in Canada this summer. She made me promise to write this story since she really enjoyed my STR story a few years ago. Sadly, she passed away a week ago and never got to read this. I feel like I failed her by waiting so long; perhaps we’ll meet again on the other side

We left Los Angeles by air on August 23, 2019 arriving in Munich on the morning of the 24th. It was a pleasant start to the journey compared to my 2017 ride across the USA from San Diego to St Augustine Florida. The first day on that trip was spent climbing the Laguna Mountains with a 72-pound rig was not anywhere as enjoyable.

I prepared for the Danube ride by wiring a rack on an old road bike to hold two small panniers. The bike was free and I sold it in Prague towards the end of my journey for 1000 Kc ~ $40. Dick bought a bike in Munich and sold it three weeks later in Vienna, not shipping it home saved him $200.

Another plus on the flight to Europe was that a friend of Dick’s at Delta bumped us from coach to business class, how nice.

We started at the curb in LAX at 0630. Delta allows one free piece of baggage so I checked my boxed bike saving $200. It was a good start to what was to be a great trip. We arrived in Munich the next day at 0830 local time. It was sunny; going through customs and immigration was easy. We were well ahead of the Covid-19 brouhaha that really slowed everything down for the past two years. I assembled my bike at the end of an unused airport corridor. The empty box might still be there.

We purchased train tickets and got to the München Hauptbahnhoff two hours later. Train travel is very efficient and inexpensive; seniors get a discount. I would use the train again in Slovakia and the Czeck Republic. The trains are electric and travel up to 160 Km/hour.

München is a great city, so Dick I cycled there for a few days to get acclimated. Dick had booked a room at the Hotel Jedermann a few blocks from the train station. We really enjoyed the spread at breakfast; this was a high point everywhere we stayed. The main Deutches Museum is fabulous so we spent over five hours there. There are three others in the city. I liked the model of the F/S Meteor. Das Meteor ist eine Deutsch Forschungsschiff (research ship) that I worked on in 1984, seeing it brought back great memories of a cruise to Svarlbad sailing in 24-hour daylight. That was an arduous cruise as I worked about 20 hours a day for two weeks analyzing sea water for carbon-14 and nutrients. It was interesting that the ship’s crew collected the 300-liter seawater samples that I worked on using seven or eight people. At Scripps’s we used three of the scientific staff.

Who knew you could go surfing in München? I didn’t but we found surfers on the river at Preis Eugen Strasse in the heart of München.

On the 24th we set off for the Donau, we got lost a few times as we did not have a map for this part of the trip. Getting lost in Bavaria is highly recommended, beautiful manicured farms and villages at every turn. Reinheitsgebot is the Bavarian purity law regarding brewing beer. The bier everywhere was superb.

We reached Ingolstadt (elevation 375 meters) on the Donau. Along the way we met lots of Radfahrers (cyclists); these meetings would be one of the many pleasures of our Fahrt (trip). As you can see, I often revert to Deutsche in this tale because I studied German for one year at UBC and never really got to use it. I might just take a year to live in Germany to really learn the language, all I need is a place to stay and a bicycle, but that’s another story. In Ingolstadt met Oliver an Irish-German and Katerina his Russian bride of one week. My ‘beater’ bike’s lower bracket started failing after two days on the road. Oliver, a bike mechanic rode home, got his tools and fixed it at no charge. I insisted on paying for a few drinks in return. We were to meet many lovely people; to include everyone would make this story into a book.

We now had about 500 Km and two more weeks to get to Wien (elevation 151 meters). Downstream and downhill all the way, what could be better? Dick had a cycling guide for Eurovelo 6, a valuable tool as, it showed the route and noted points of interest along the river. There are no mountain ranges to cross, much a more leisurely journey than my 2017 ride across the USA on the Southern Tier Route.

I planned to visit as many large pipe organ sites as I could along the way. My Great Danes and I are long time members of the Spreckles Organ Society, we attend at least two Sunday concerts a month. Raul Prieto Ramierez, San Diego city organist, recommended several great organs to see. The most spectacular was St Stephan’s Cathedral in Passau that church has five organs with five key boards, 233 stops, and a total of 17,974 pipes. I expected building stones to shower down on my head when they played Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor.

Another interesting place was an organ museum in Kelheim. Kelheim is a small village just below the Donau Schlucht (narrows); 80 meters wide and 20 meters deep. Our third-floor attic room in Kelheim Schwan Pension was five meters wide and thirteen meters long. Very heavy timbers supported the roof and the walls were white plaster, the Donau was a few meters away. Es war sehr ruhig (it was very quiet).

The 6 Km ferry ride through the gorge was spectacular The Radweg was really scenic, we crossed the river several times on small ferries and bridges so we could stay on the river’s banks. Riding the path is like wandering through a fairy tale; shaded paths, small villages, castles on the mountains and endless river traffic with motorized barges from all over Europe. I was not aware that is possible to sail from the Black Sea to the English Channel. One could spend months traversing Europe by water in a small boat, less hassle than an R/V.

The Eurovelo is about two to three meters wide, well-marked and easy to were easy to follow. The path rarely crosses highways or streets, it largely follows the banks of the Doanau, ser heiter (very serene). We quickly learned that after Frühstück (breakfast) that we could prepare a lunch to take along when we peddled off each morning. The fresh breads were excellent, especially when stuffed with cold cuts and cheeses. There never was any chance of going dry as there are ample places to stop for kalt beir along the way.

The river tour boats are up to 450 feet long, some of the bends in the river are sharp. I asked a boat captain in Passau how hard it was to navigate in those situations, his answer was “So far so good”. We both had a good laugh.

Norbert, a friend of Dicks has sister in Regensberg, she gave us a tour of the city. A year later Margit and her sister Manuela travelled to visit Norbert in Escondido. I took them on a tour of the Anza Boreggo desert, they had never seen a desert before.

The most sobering part of our journey was in Mauthausen where we toured the KZ-Gedenkståtte Mauthausen memorial concentration camp. The Nazi’s incarnate evil left a deep impression on me. I still wake up with nightmare visions of the camp’s crematoria.

The administration of evil by the Soviet Union 50’s to the 80’s in Eastern Europe also stands out in my memory. This really was driven home when I visited the Museum of Communism in Praha (Prague) a few weeks later.
The communists treatment of dissidents is on par with the way the Nazi’s treated the Jews in WWII.

At Ybbs we toured a cycling museum the; fire cycle was novel.

Ybbs is also the site of one of the nine Kraftwerks (hydro dams) in Osterreich; I took a very interesting tour there. Each dam has very long lock to allow river traffic to pass.

The Donau is quite warm and inviting in late August. I swam in the river several times; it was very refreshing. We reached Wein on September tenth.

Wein is a modern city with a variety of trams, some are vintage and fun to ride. It has very efficient subway system and the bus service is excellent. We sampled the food and took in a Mozart concert; quite production in a fabulous concert hall. There are numerous parks and museums; we saw many of the attractions by just cycling around till we saw something that looked interesting. I much prefer this to the guided tour groups. We saw many groups being herded around; easy to spot as they all wore ear buds and had flag waving leader. The fellow that bought Dick’s three-week old bike told us to visit the Shøbrum Vast Gartens; located in a beautiful hill top park. Wonderful views of the city and the Donau.

Wein has many, many cultural attractions, this fellow sold us tickets to wonderful Mozart concert.

All the public spaces are meticulously clean and well managed down to the smallest detail. All creatures are respected as this photo demonstrates.

Dick returned home on the morning of September 13th; he was still working for living at that point; I was not. It took several expensive phone calls to change my departure date from the 13th to 23rd of September. It was worth as my next 10 days would be a real adventure.

It occurs to me that this is a good place to end this tale. I’ll do a part two in a few weeks.

Edward Slater