Blimey, is it really 6 days since my last post?
It rained the morning I left Saltzburg, so I stayed in bed until I decided I could wait no longer and it stopped as soon as I got up. I had only planned a short day so I still made it to Hallstatt (See photo) by 16:30. Its a cracking little village going up the hillside and right on a big lake and the population is just about doubled with us tourists.
The next day was another hilly 130 odd k that was up and down the whole way. It was far too hot for such a route at 33 degrees and on the slightest of hills I was sweating buckets. The last 15k was generally upwards and Wildalpen couldnt come soon enough. The campsite was crammed with tents, but I found another area that was totally free, until 10 mins after I had set up my tent and then I was surrounded by Czech boat people, canoes and rafts that is, not refugees, at least I assume they werent. One was covered from head to foot in camoflague, but his yellow canoe gave the game away a bit! His tent was also camoflagued but he didnt have any tent pegs so he hacked a branch off a tree with a machete and made some pegs.
Wednesday was also hilly. By the last climb I was sweating buckets again and just about run out of water when I found clean water coming out of a pipe by the roadside. I stopped and washed my face and it was wonderfully cold. I ended up filling my cap with water and tipping it over me and by the time I left I had just about had a shower whilst fully dressed, boy was it good. The nights stop was at Melk where there is a large monastry that dominated the town.
Thursday was another stinking hot day with the temperature up to 34 but a flatish ride into Vienna. I was aiming for the information place but couldnt get my bearings, then realised I stopped literally right beside it, so somebody was smiling on me. They gave me a great cycling route out to the campsite, along the Danube, through a park, across canals and rivers and with only about 200m of road riding. When I checked in the reception area was even hotter and sweat was oozing from my arms. As I started to put the tent up I saw an enormous black cloud coming over so the race was on to get the tent up before the rain, but within just a couple of minutes a fierce wind had whipped up that was demolishing tents with ease, so the race was on to get the tent packed away before the rain. I just made it back to reception as the rain arrived and I sat around for a couple of hours for the storm to pass over. When I returned there was debris all over the place, rubbish, branches, tents and awnings, so I think I made the right decision.
Yesterday I rode back into Vienna and it is such a great ride that I dont mind being about 10k from the centre. Through the parks branches and felled trees were everywhere and the clean up operation had already begun. Once in the centre I realised I had left my spare camera battery in the tent so I spent the day at the out of town sites, the best of which was the Schonbrunn Palace. I have always wanted to visit Vienna and Caroline recommended it too and I can say that I have not been disapointed, it is just fantastic. Back at the campsite it is seriously packed, tent peg to tent peg as there is a music festival nearby and it is full of bear drinking teenagers, but they are harmless enough and even they cant keep me awake.
Today has been spent walking about in the centre and at every turn there seems to be another photo to be taken, it really is that good and all within such a short walking distance. I also went out to the cemetry were the composers are grouped together, Beethoven, Strauss, Shubert and Brahms and a monument to Mozart.
Ok, on to matters of food. Well since Lomotte Beauvron in France where I met Caroline, her brother Stephan and sister in law Tewy (I hope I have spelt that right) who were travelling from Barcelona to Reading, where we had a great meal which blew about 2 days of budget for me, I havent even used a knife and fork, so you could say it has not been posh. I generally have a 3 course meal, so I am not going hungry. Starter is normally a soup, sometimes its green, normally it is brown and usually has bits in, but tonights is white! The good thing about self catering is that you dont even have to point, you can just look at the pictures, but I still cant tell what it is! Main course is either rice or pasta or very occasionally cous-cous, with a tin of something thrown in and sometimes a tin of veg as well. The sweet menu consists of either fresh or tinned fruit. Now if any of that gets your taste buds going let me know and I can send you the recipe. Breakfast varies, but my favourite is crunchy type cereal with a tin of fruit cocktail thrown in. The fruit cocktail is amazing. I can see I am eating a cherry of a piece of pineapple, but it all tastes the same, of fruit cocktail. Lunch is normally bread and cheese which I never seem to tire of, but today, yes I did have sausage for the first time and the wish I had bought cheese!
The stove I am using it great, but it is either on full or off, but I have just about mastered the technique of cooking without burning the pots. Its an MSR Whipserlite and can burn any fuel. I am using unleaded petrol which is great as I know that everyday when I need a refill I am going to find what I need. I also love to see their faces when I stop for petrol, perhaps I should stop making out that I am really thirsty! I fill up about once a week and a tank full cost about 50p, so it cheaper to run than a car.
And more about bugs and things. At the start of a climb early on Thursday I was overtaken by a snail (see photo). It was massive and you cant really see that from the photo, so perhaps I should have leant my bike against it to give a sense of scale. A question for you all now. Every now and then I see strange flying bug things that have bright green LEDs on the front. Does anybody know what they are. Its a bit odd when you see an LED heading straight for you.
Lots more photos added too and Mally, can you spot the one that was taken for you?
Richard, I am still probably not cycling fast enough for you to reclaim your dining room table. I didnt go to that place you mentioned so no danger of me putting a photo on the web for you. Give my regards to all the Woodstock bellringers and to those that arent able to read this. I still think of you on a Thursday night (well thats if I can work out what day of the week it is!)