Monday, 27 May 2013
Black Sea or Bust - Day 10 - Linz to Persenbeug (81 km)
Bitterly cold and wet. The breakfast in the hotel is 15 euros so Doris and I take ourselves off to a bakery/cafe in the town and have excellent fresh rolls etc. The scenery today is as dull as the weather and the only place of note that we pass through is Mauthausen, the site of one of the Nazis toughest camps, reserved from the outset for "incorrigible enemies of the Reich". There are remains of the camp and memorials but in the driving rain I don't stop.
The rain does stop as I get to Grein at lunchtime and of all the Danube towns so far it is my favourite. Perhaps for technical and flood necessity reasons most of them ignore the river and are set back a little. Grein elegantly faces out towards the south bank and could almost be said to have a promenade. I have to cross by ferry here but no negotiation required, a cheerful young pilot who tells me that he was brought up in Grein and that he loves it here. I didn't ask "what do you do in the winter?" But what do they do in the winter? No skiing nearby, no cyclists in May let alone February. God knows. One thing I do notice that you almost never see anyone with a mobile phone in their hand, that hasn't arrived yet, but that might just be that reception in some of these valleys is so bad that there is no point.
So on a dull day with not much to relate here is a typical cyclist's day on the Danube:
05.00 Wake, wonder where wife is, realise bed too narrow/short/hard/soft. Realise that I am in crap hotel. Go back to sleep.
06.00 Wake, wonder where wife is, realise bed too narrow/short/hard/soft. Realise that I am in crap hotel.Go back to sleep.
06.30 Get up. Try and find something that doesn't smell like a camel's backside to wear.
07.00 Breakfast. Eat an identical breakfast to the last 10 days. There really is no difference wherever you stay.
07.30 Repack pannier bags. After ten days I am no closer to establishing a system by which one contains clean and the other dirty. This process is the most irritating part of the day
08.00 Pay the bill, reassure proprietor that theirs is the finest hotel on the river and that you will certainly leave glowing feedback on Booknow&despair.com. Set off.
08.10 Panic that I have left phone behind. Stop and search everywhere until I find it in its normal place in my right trouser pocket.
08.20 Panic that I have left the I Pad behind. Stop and search everywhere until I find it in its normal place in the saddle bag.
08.22 Head down and concentrate on cracking out some kilometres.
08.30 Stop to consult map as to where might be a good place to stop for coffee.
09.30 Arrive at possible coffee stop but decide to press on.
09.45 Arrive at another possible coffee stop but decide to press on
10.15 Desperate for coffee but consultation with map tells me that there is no significant human settlement for 15 kilometres
11.30 Stop for coffee and croissant
11.45 Start again. This session is normally the most productive of the day. Set the gears to Gas Mark 8 and go like hell.
11.50 Wonder if it's too early for beer
13.00 Knees, arse, wrists and back starting to hurt, but gamely press on.
14.00 More bits starting to hurt. Start looking for somewhere to stop for lunch. Beer fantasies rampant.
14.30 Lunch and beer
15.30 Set off again
16.00 Starts to rain. Stop to put on waterproofs. Can't find waterproof trousers. End up unpacking both panniers in bus shelter watched by two disapproving old ladies.
16.30 Realise that I am within 10 km of the hotel for the night in Kleine Schmetterling im Wald and that there will be absolutely nothing to do there and that I may as well stop for more beer.
17.30 Arrive at hotel in rain. Exchange pleasantries with proprietor before lugging bags up to room. Unpack. Flick through 156 TV channels all of which are German speaking and most involve young women who want me to phone them. Watch 'Big Bang Theory' in German. Works for me.
19.30 Walk 50m to local bar for supper. Try and write something witty for blog while eating something that I thought was chicken but turns out to be meat that bears some relation to ham, gherkins and some white vegetable.
20.30 Return to hotel room. Stare at wall.
21.30 Fall asleep with I Pad playing French cop show Spiral (excellent) resting on my nose.