Since joining the Danube in Regensburg the drama has been kicked up a notch, its practically worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. We had our first night hosted by warmshowers and were treated to delicious veggie meal by Martina and Peter and great conversation and story swapping with a Hungarian cyclist.
With a brand new tent in hand to replace our old, broken one we set off for Passau. The Danube along this section isn't that beautiful or spectacular as the wide river is spanned by wide flatlands and marshy plains. Not much to look at, so when you think about it, it was the perfect place for a storm. The next day we packed up our camp, trying to dry what we could of the early morning condensation (in hindsight a futile effort) and pushed off. We were caught in a downpour but carried on smugly overtaking other cyclists who were sheltering under a bridge. The rain passed but a lingering dark cloud was always ominously present lurking across the river. It became harder and harder to ignore the swirling clouds from Mordor, especially when the tumbling thunder echoed across the plains surrounding us. When the rains hit we were caught off guard by the strength and ferocity of it and the closeness of the lightening. Within seconds I could barely see Charlie in front of me. The lightning flashed and I counted 4 seconds before the thunder shook the ground, in those 4 seconds realising that the boring plains i had been unimpressed by earlier meant we were probably the highest metal object around! Completely drenched I could just make out Charlie when suddenly she was engulfed by a wave of water - the river path had dipped and the waterlogged ground had swollen into a stream. I slammed on my brakes and watched as one of Charlie's panniers almost casually floated off. I ran in the river to retrieve it then went back to push my own half-submerged bike through water which was now above my knees! We yelled agreement that we had to carry on. Now after 4 weeks in germany if there is thing we've learnt its that NOTHING IS OPEN ON A SUNDAY, EVER. So we were utterly amazed to find an open pub in a small village . We staggered in dripping, dishevelled and disbelieving, ordered a cup of tea and sat down to assess the damage: *Gears, chains, brake discs thick with mud and grass. *panniers and people soaked but contents mostly dry *turns out panniers float!
After warming up and checking the weather we had a 2 hour weather window between storms to get to Passau which was 20 miles away. So, exhausted but determined, we got back on our bikes and powered through. Just to be rewarded with a hostel which turned out to be up a 22% cobbled incline.
One marathon drying session later and we were ready to meet Aram who has come to join us for a couple of weeks. Back on the road and we left the plains behind for beautiful hills and smooth cycling along the Danube gorge. The Austrian border was a confusing affair with no sign declaring we had made it to our 4th country. We even tried asking other cyclists which country they thought they were in with no luck. This was so frustrating that Charlie promptly got a migraine and had to lie under a tree. In the meantime Aram and I decided to cycle to get a sandwich, we returned 7 hours later just before darkness fell. Turns out the other side of the Daube is a cliff and we had to carry our bikes up and down steep rocks and streams. The Adventure Potatos were willing to balance our bad luck as our impromptu stop brought us together with a group of american cyclists with the immortal words "hello american people, would you like some tea?".
We're now in Vienna and 1000 miles into our journey. I can barely comprehend it. 1000 miles. One thousand!
Well what a week it's been!! Lots of crazy things been happening so let start back in Regensburg, Germany.
We had our first WarmShowers night which was brilliant, our lovely hosts Peter and Martina cooked us a yummy tea and we had a proper bed and shower for the night. They also helped us find a camping shop to buy a new tent (soooooo much better!) and set us off the next day with a fantastic breakfast. It was a brilliant first WarmShowers night and it was so lovely talking to them about cycling and travelling:)
From Regensburg we joined the River Danube cycle path woohoo! Goodbye hills, goodbye forest trails and goodbye needing to navigate! I was particularly looking forward to this section as it is one of the most famous touring routes and supposed to be beautiful.
On the second day heading to Passau (our last German town before crossing into Austria) we knew that there was rain forecast so we'd made sure our waterproof covers were on, with more layers on hand but nothing could have prepared us for the torrential rain that came down in the space of about half an hour! We'd been pedalling along happily staying just ahead of the rain, we even stopped to take photos of the oncoming storm clouds, oh if only we'd known what was coming! The storm arrived and when it hit it really hit!! The rain was mental, completly soaking everything in seconds. Then the thunder and lightening started getting closer and closer until it was right on top of us.
It was at this point, following the cycle path that I cycled straight through what I thought was a puddle but actually turned out to be the river bursting it's banks! The water was over my knees before I knew what was happening and then to my horror one of my front panniers actually came off my bike and started floating away! I spent a moment trying to think of all the things that id packed in that pannier and before deciding it was best to get my bike and other panniers out of the water before going back for the escaping one. Luckily Lou who was just behind me and saw the whole thing and waded in to retrieve my pannier before it got too far away. We made it to the next town and by some miracle there was a pub open (bear in mind it was a Sunday in Germany where absoluetly everything is closed!). So we ordered a cup of tea and tried to take in the dramatic turn of events tgat had unfokded in the last half hour. The whole thing was pretty scary actually, not something I'm keen to ever repeat!
We had the next day in Passau, a lovely little city with beautiful arcitecture and yet another cathedral to add to our tick list. We also met Aram here who is joining us for a couple of weeks:) we also crossed into country number 4!! Hello Austria! However it was a bit disappointing as there was absolutely nothing on the path to mark the boarder at all! We only knew where it was thanks to Google Maps! (we later found out that we were stood by a sign that said 'boarder crossing' however half of it was missing and it was in German, so really we had no chance).The rest of that day was unfortunately cut short as I got a migraine which knocked me out for the rest day. Luckily we made it to a nearby campsite and I slept the whole day, waking up just in time to see Austria loose to Hungary in the Euro football game.
Despite putting us behind schedule it was actually great because we met 4 lovely American girls (thanks to the campsite owner trying to set us up as two groups of English speakers!) who were also at the campsite and we had a lovely long breakfast with them the next day whilst hiding from the rain:) (they are on facebook @wheretwopedal)
Once we were om the road agajn we headed to Linz which was a surprisingly lovely city. For one thing there was a lake at the campsite so we spent the morning swimming and doing terrible dives off the pontoon. Then had a wander aeound the city and did an angels tour up one of the old churches. We met up with the American girls again for tea and introduced them to Charlie the bike:)
We are now in Vienna after cycling our longest day yet 56 miles (92km)! It really feels like we are making progress now and there are some exciting cities coming up:)