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Having left Vienna the day prior the next stop on our river cruise was the town of Krems, Austria.
When you sign up for a cruise like this it’s a package deal and certain activities are included, usually a guided walking tour of each destination. On top of that you could sign up for additional excursions.
That morning we had signed up for a bike tour through the Austrian wine country.
A little background first. I am an avid cyclist, riding over 4000 miles a year and doing at least one or two “century rides” of 100+ miles every year. I’m not a super fast rider but on one of my good road bikes I can go out and average 17 mph on any given day. If any of you ride in Norcal I’ve (painfully) climbed Mt. Tamalpais and Alpine Lake. Not too bad for a guy who turns 60 this year.
Let’s just say the bike tour was geared more towards the novice. I think if you know how to ride a bike at all you could probably do this ride.
To make it even easier they gave us e-bikes.
Our guides were two pleasant Austrian women. One rode at the front of the pack and the other at the back. We were expected to stay between the guides. The pace was somewhere between “leisurely” and “I don’t think I even broke a sweat”. I had to fight the urge to sprint out ahead but I didn’t want to be “that guy”. It’s OK. I would have a chance to stretch my legs in a few days.
We rode through some magnificent countryside, stopped and spent a half hour or so in the town and then made a leisurely ride back. I logged 10 miles but I doubt we even went that far. Still the scenery was worth it.
I’ve always been impressed by how clean Germany is but Austria seemed even cleaner, if that were possible. I think they must scrub the streets.
We had to be back on the boat by lunch time because we were scheduled to be in Vienna the next morning.
I found there is definitely something soothing about just watching the water leisurely slip past.
Food and drinks were all part of the package. I probably drank enough free cappuccinos to put a dent in their profits. They usually added one or two regional dishes to the menu for wherever we happened to be. Breakfast was your typical European hotel spread. You could probably fill up on breakfast and not eat the rest of the day. Food quality was comparable to a decent European hotel or bistro.
The cruise line was very cautious about Covid, which was a good thing. Masks were worn in the common areas of the boat except when eating. We had to take a Covid test (spit in a tube not the brain-swab) every morning. To my knowledge no one popped positive on the trip.
I found the locks on the Danube to be fascinating. We went through something like sixteen different locks between Budapest and Regensburg.
The only way to go uphill on a river is to go through a lock. The doors open at one end and then close once the boat is inside the lock. The water level in the lock is then raised until you’re even with the next part of the river. The opposite doors are opened and you continue on your merry way.
Sounds simple, except for the fact that you’re sailing into a concrete canyon with the boat inches from the wall. I was able to reach out of my cabin and touch the wall of the lock on more than one occasion.
A lot of commerce goes up and down that river and I was told that it is a very big deal if one of the locks breaks.
Next stop - Germany.