By Eilene Lyon
On our last morning in Salzburg, we went to pick up our biking gear for a six-day ride to Vienna. That’s when we learned we hadn’t received our vouchers and itinerary from the desk clerk. We had very little time to peruse the materials, drop off our suitcases to be transported to our next lodging, and figure out where we were going.
The man from the tour company, who didn’t speak much English (and we almost no German), directed us down a major thoroughfare to the river, rather than the scenic route through the old city as shown in our directions. No matter; we had explored the city already and the short-cut got us out of town quicker. It was a perfect day for riding.
Our first destination was Attersee, via Mondsee. We took a couple wrong turns before getting the hang of the self-guided tour instructions. The first ride was 65 km total, so we certainly felt we got plenty of exercise! Since we’d been to Mondsee already, we knew we could get a snack near the docks and enjoy the lake view.
We arrived at the Hotel Föttinger at Attersee about 4 p.m. The staff was pleasant and the restaurant served excellent continental fare. Our room in the chalet-style hotel had a balcony with a view of the lake where we could enjoy a little private happy hour before dinner.
The next day’s ride took us from Attersee to Traunsee, partially on a gravel trail through woods. Once we reached Ebensee on the south end of the lake, we found the visitor center closed. We had to find the ferry dock to catch the only scheduled boat that day to carry us to Gmunden at the north end. Not as easy as we expected.
The wind had picked up, pushing the lake into heavy chop; windsurfers and kite-boarders made the most of it. Fortunately, we found the tiny dock with time to spare. As we headed up the lake, the wind grew calmer and the air warmer. At the north end, sailboats were out in force.
Our room in Gmunden was dingy, located in a rather old building, and the restaurant was closed. The proprietor was an odd duck, who seemed to be the chef, too. Apparently Saturday was not a good day for dining opportunities, but we did manage to get a decent lunch near the waterfront. Dinner was even more difficult to find, and we ended up at a busy pub with okay food and very slow service.
Monday morning we started for the city of Linz, on the Danube. We would bike about 35 km along the Traun River, then catch a train outside Lambach taking us to the city. We stopped for a tour of the Benedictine monastery in Lambach, which contains the oldest Romanesque frescoes in Austria. We had hoped the guide might speak a little English (nope). But the frescoes were interesting.
In Linz, to get from the train station to our hotel, we used our phone app for directions. Fortunately, there were bike lanes along the city streets. The Putterer went into the lobby to find out where to park our bikes, leaving me standing there, holding the voucher required to check us in. He soon returned, grumbling about “Brunhilde” not telling him where to put the bikes until we’d given her the voucher and paid the city tax.
We had a handicapped room, which meant a lousy shower, but otherwise a very nice place. Brunhilde didn’t hesitate to drop what she was doing at the desk when she saw me out at the curb buying bus tickets from the machine so we could go downtown. She wasn’t too happy when I did not take her advice about what tickets to buy, and she left in a huff.
As in Gmunden, finding an open restaurant on Sunday evening proved challenging. However, an exploratory walk through a dim passageway brought us into a lovely biergarten filled with chestnut trees, tables, a bar and full menu. Delightful!
Afterward, we visited the Mariendom – Austria’s largest church – where we caught the tail end of a musical performance featuring brass instruments. The acoustic reverberation was breathtaking. We visited the church again the following morning to view the stain-glassed windows.
The weather promised to be a bit grim on Monday and we contemplated just taking a train from Linz to Grein. We rode the bikes downtown, not even putting on our bike clothes, and found the visitor center, only to be informed that the museums were closed on Mondays. We ended up walking around town a bit, then rode along the Danube further than we’d planned, as the rain seemed to be holding off. I regretted wearing jeans!
We had a delicious lunch at an outdoor café on the outskirts of Mauthausen, where the hostess had a cute, fluffy dog to entertain us. We finished off our meal with a “love sundae,” ice cream, strawberries and lots of whipped cream.
An optional side trip on a nice day would be to visit the grim WWII concentration camp at the Mauthausen Memorial. But the rain finally started, so we rode a short distance to the train station, paid fare for two people and two bikes, and rode in comfort to Grein.
Grein castle was closed (Monday!!), and the rain still came down, so we didn’t do much until time for the shuttle to take us up-mountain to our hotel. We were joined by a couple groups of riders from Canada and we barely had room in the van for all of us.
The Schatz Kammer Burg Kreuzen is a very modern, well-appointed hotel abutting a castle. A glass-walled walkway leads into the castle proper where the restaurant is located. This was probably the fanciest place we stayed between Salzburg and Vienna. Our balcony had expansive views of the surrounding area. We settled in for a comfortable night after our buffet-style dinner.
Featured image: Rathaus (town hall) in Gmunden.