Contents 1 Introduction
2 Montreal to Vienna, Thurs. June 19
3 Vienna Airport to Vienna, Fri. June 20
4 Vienna, Sat. June 21
5 Vienna to Gumpoldskirchen, Sun. June 22
6 Gumpoldskirchen and Baden to Hornstein, Mon. June 23
7 Hornstein to Rust and Oggau, Tues. June 24
8 Oggau to Schwechat, Wed. June 25
9 Schwechat to the Airport, Thurs. June 26
10 Vienna to Montreal, Fri. June 27
I lived in Baden bei Wien in 1977/1978 and was back again for a conference in Graz in 1997. This was a last minute trip, for only a week, when I discovered a return airfare from Montreal to Vienna for $485. Although the normal baggage limit is a total of 23kg, they will carry your bicycle and camping equipment for free. Since their overweight baggage charge is $10.00/kg, this was a critical requirement for me.
My neighbour Tony drove me to the airport, 3 hours early, as required by Air Transat. The check in was remarkably fast and easy. My last trip on air Transat was in 1993 when I flew to England. on that trip, the seats tended to force my knees into my chest. The only comfortable row was the one by the emergency exit. This year, the president proudly wrote in their in flight magazine that they had added 2'' (5cm) to their rows. It doesn't sound like much, but the seats now are as comfortable as those of any other airline. The service was very good, and the meals followed the diminished elegance of all airlines. Dinner was a microwaved small rice Masala, the ``President's Choice'' brand of Loblaws, a large Canadian supermarket. It was decently unexciting.
We arrived a little early at about 8:15am. After some time, my bicycle and trailer came out on the ``oversize'' baggage belt. There were baggage carts at the airport, but many passengers were more than a bit upset at not being able to use them because they did not have the 1 or 2 euro coin needed to release one. I had some left over from Portugal so I had no problem.
I put my bike and trailer together, and discovered that a potential problem I was worried about did happen. The rotor for the front disk brake had been bent and the brake dragged a bit. I couldn't get it totally straightened so I left it with a slight drag. I was hoping that the braking would straighten it, but I was out of luck. when I checked it again at the end of the trip at the airport it was still rubbing. I will have to protect it the next time.
My first order of business was to find a place to camp on the night before I leave. I had a reservation in Vienna but decided that the 20km ride would not allow me to make my flight. After a certain amount of strain, I found a nice, isolated spot by the river, about 100m off the bicycle path, and about 6km from the airport.
Since my last trip in 1997, Austria has joined the Eurozone so my left over schillings were now ``obsolete''. Only the Austrian National Bank will exchange them for euros, so my next order of business was to ride to the bank before they closed for the weekend. I had the GPS coordinates so my Garmin routed me right to the bank. The major problem was that some of the streets were blocked off for the Fanzone for Euro 2008 that was being played this year in Vienna. I still was able to make it just before it closed and exchanged my schillings.
I rode slowly over to the Danube Canal, then across it to the, not so blue Danube.
I continued on to what I thought was my campground for the night. Although the routing is wonderful, it is best that the coordinates of the destination are correct. In this case, I had the wrong coordinates, and/or possibly had the wrong place. However the Neue Donau campground was in the vicinity, and after several questions, I was directed right to it. I was very happy that it really existed. It was very crowded and expensive 43 euros (about $65) for two nights. Even my Swiss neighbours complained about how expensive it was. Their store had camping gas, and the internet access and WiFi was free.
Today I rode around the First District, visiting places I knew well, and discovering many more that did not exist. The center piece of the First District is the Stephandom. Its roof is most memorable.
I spent some time admiring the church, the statues, and the girls.
The caleche parking by the dom created a few obstacles for even pushing my bicycle.
Probably the second most famous landmark is the Hofburg.
Its not famous, but almost every town has its own Pest Post, a commemoration of the ``Black Death''.
Kartner Strasse, with its old shops, and typical Austrian handicrafts and pastry shops used to be one of my favourite streets in Austria. It has now, sadly, become a pedestrian mall that could be almost anywhere in the world.
The Hotel Sacher is well known for its sachertorte. Tony was recently there and said that it cost him 60 euros for 3 sachertortes and 3 coffees. I am glad we went in 1977.
A recent issue of National Geographic had an article on a new traveling exhibition of Tutankhamun artifacts. I had forgotten that the first stop was the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna. I was lucky enough to see a large number of, poorly presented, exhibits in the Cairo Museum and go into his tomb in 1968. It was much fun to see some more, this time very well presented.
Unfortunately they did not have a dvd or cd of the exhibit, and the books were prohibitively heavy. I will have to make do with the article.
The most surprising sight of the day was an outdoor drinking fountain.
This is the first one I have ever seen in Europe.
While crossing the Danube Canal, I did see some blue Danube.
Since I left my rain jacket on the plane, I wanted to get another one. Carrefour opened in 1977 as the anchor store in Shopping City Sud in Modling. It became our favourite, and only, mega-store. I arrived at SCS about noon, and discovered that only the movie theatre was open. Since 1977, SCS has covered at least 5km and, unfortunately, according to a man at the theatre, Carrefour no longer exists. This saved me from wanting to come back on Monday when stores were open.
I continued on to Laxenburg, where I had worked for IIASA in 1976/1978. IIASA is located in the Schloss Laxenburg.
Behind the Schloss (castle) is the Schlosspark. When I worked here, it was wild, and we were warned to stay out of it during the 3 weeks of hunting season. I had hoped to camp here, but it has now become a local attraction where the collect tickets at the entrance.
From Laxenburg, I rode on to Gumpoldskirchen, to indulge in a Heurigan. Unfortunately, since this was Sunday, they were all closed. I settled instead for a Weinbau, where I could eat and taste local wine. It was very pleasant, and from the reaction of people parking while I was getting ready to lock my bike, one of the few places open.
In the late afternoon, I started for Baden bei Wien, where I had lived, and found a pleasant, invisible place between a small road and the train track to camp for the night.
In the distance I could still see Gumpoldskirchen.
This was a very small and isolated road but there was a surprising amount of activity including joggers, walkers, tractors, and the occasional truck or car.
It was a short ride to Baden. The changes since 1997 have been greater than those between 1977 and 1997. The large supermarket stores have arrived, and all the private pastry shops have disappeared. The only one there, was Anker, part of a large chain. However, they had Pink Cakes, a rum soaked cake that Peggy dearly loved while we lived here. I was going to get some when I was there in 1997, but I thought that the ride to Graz would destroy them. However the Graz versions were quite dry and inferior to those in Baden, so I came home empty handed. I tried one of the Anker cakes and they were very good so I bought there entire supply of 7, found a convenient plastic box to store them, and gave them to Peggy for her birthday on June 28, the day after I arrived home.
Although the small stores have been replaced by sanitized, chain types, the pest post and the Cafe Central were still there.
I left Baden in the early afternoon and headed towards Rust. It was clear at about 5pm that I was not going to get there, nor was it obvious what I would do if I did. I found a secluded site just off the road, behind one of six huge dirt mounds, in a construction site and set up the tent. At about 9:00pm, my first thunderstorm of the trip hit. However, the tent did well so there was no problem.
Today's major destination is the small town of Rust. It was famous when we lived here for its storks, but they were declining and there was much worry that they would disappear.
I arrived in the early morning, and was a little distressed that there was a sign for the altstadt. My first stop was the Rathausplatz, where nearby, I found a few empty nests. I was a little worried.
However, around the corner, there were a large number of very occupied nests.
One in particular was quite crowded.
I was delighted with them doing well.
After lunch I started north towards Vienna. I had hoped to go to Bratislava, but my speed is such that it is too risky. In the mid afternoon, there were ominous sounds of another thunderstorm, so I detoured to the nearest campground in Oggau. I arrived just as the storm started and set up my tent in the rain. However, it was rather pleasant in the tent with the rain coming down, and it did stop in the early evening so my tent was dry in the morning.
Today was a rather easy ride to the campsite that I discovered on my way from the airport. I looked for a nearer place to camp in Fischamend, just east of the airport, but decided that it was not really acceptable.
I set up camp under some gas?? pipes, and behind a concrete embankment by the river. It was quite pleasant until about a 10:00pm when a vicious thunderstorm hit. The wind blew off my rain fly, and blew water through the, ostensibly, waterproof sides of the tent. I spent about an hour with my feet pushed up against the side of the tent to keep it more stable. Water leaked inside and my sleeping bag, foam pad, and some socks and pants got wet. It was one of the roughest nights I have ever had.
Since the zippers of the tent have been giving me trouble for sometime, and I was hassled about the weight of my camping gear and trailer when I came, I decided to keep the poles, but get rid of the rest of the tent. I rode into Schwechat, to try to find a laundromat where i could dry my sleeping bag. Self service laundromats don't seem to exist and the two places that I found would only dry the bag by tomorrow. That was totally unacceptable since I was leaving in the morning.
The solution? was to put all the stuff in the sun in a park and hope it would dry. The stuff dried sufficiently, and the park showed the destruction caused by last nights winds.
The maintenance crew was out early and most of the debris was removed by 8:45am.
However, some of the destruction required heavy equipment.
I spent the morning in a gazebo by the pond, watching the mallards, until I decided that all was dry enough.
After lunch, I rode to the airport. Air Transat uses Terminal 1A, which in the early evening I had to myself, and had the advantage over the main terminals of having padded benches. However, at about 11:00pm, 50 or so passengers came in because their flight was canceled. Normally the airline will put them up in a hotel for the night, but because of Euro 2008 there were no rooms at all in Vienna or the suburbs. I fortunately had already claimed my spot so there was no problem.
Air Transat opened up their gate at about 7:15am and I was first in line. I was given a good window seat just in line with the front of the engine, and they did not even weigh my bike and trailer when I told them what they were. After checking in, I went back to Terminal 1 where there was free WiFi and sent messages to Peggy and Tony who said he might be able to meet me in Montreal. The flight was appropriately uneventful, and we landed in Montreal only an hour late. That lateness was due to a slight delay in Vienna, that was compounded to an hour because of the traffic.
Tony met me and drove me home. It was a good trip.
This the link to the Google Earth map of the trip.