Austria is a very well organized country. Houses are new or restored, gardens are flowery, fields are even, tarmac has no holes and nothing lies scattered anywhere. Not really my cup of tea. You have the feeling that if you go to pee somewhere behind the bush, an alarm will start ringing immediately. That’s why I took Austria as a transit country.
Yes, it’s comfortable. And the sun shines. Anyway, as soon as I left Czech Republic, it reappeared on the sky. Cars, even if they drive fast, tend to avoid cyclists. Cycling paths may take you through half of the country and you can be sure not to loose them. (Have you ever tried cycling in Poland? You can bet anything that at the first crossroads all signs for cyclists will suddenly disappear.) In towns there are always some modern companies, villages seem to be designed with a ruler, wind turbines, future, modernity. And no people. Not on the streets anyway. I entered the country through some backroads, at weekend again and found ghost towns. They looked like decorations in a theatre but without actors. I’m sure that in the future they will stop building sidewalks. Everybody drives cars. You can only meet some fellow cyclists.
However, when I asked to camp in people’s gardens, I found some great hospitality. Austria, contrary to Czech Republic, made great first impression on me. Somehow it happened that I didn’t have a map of the country again (it was weekend, not my fault) and I was trying to ask Martina and Robert for directions. But because I didn’t know where exactly where I wanted to go, it all ended with spending the night at their place with laundry as a bonus. Maybe the efficiency of finding a place for the night wasn’t as high as in Poland, but for sure higher than in Czech Republic. Let me just say that I only slept in the tent twice. All the other nights were spent under a roof. Of course, those two nights in the tent were those when the storm came. I couldn’t have been any other way.
Do you remember when I entered Slovakia by chance? It wouldn’t be possible with Austria. Here there would be a Raiffeisen sign even in a cornfield. It’s on everything, from banks, through ashtrays, maps, silos to cycling paths. You will recognize Austria by Raiffeisen logo.
My first flat tyre also happened here (and the second in my whole life). As it was the rear wheel this time, now I feel an expert on mending tyres. Especially that this one needed to be fixed twice, as my first patch unsticked after some 5 km. A true expert, don’t you agree? Thumbs up to Austria for the fact that every single person passing by asked me, if I needed help. One lady even wanted to bring me some cold water to refresh from the heat.
It’s also in Austria that first longer uphill cycling took place. I managed to climb my first bigger hill and I’m sure it was higher than Gross Glockner, although I think my GPS was temporarily broken, because it only showed 567m. But I did it. OK, I pushed the bike and only because I knew there was a town at the top of the hill. And a town means a prize. Ice coffee in a bar, that had already seen its better times, fulfilled all my dreams.
And hey, did you know that in Austria there’s a huge lake (Neusiedler See) in which even I wouldn’t drown? They say the water wouldn’t cover a person. And did you actually know that (along with Czech Republic) it’s a wine country? Yes, I don’t enjoy wine and I don’t know much about it, but when I think ‘wine’, I think of Italy, Spain and France of course. But Austria? But as I was cycling through some hills of both Northern and Southern parts of the country, I saw rows and rows of well kept vineyards, houses scattered among that sea of green and at sunset all that would become almost too beautiful to bear.
And if Austria becomes too organized and boring, you can always bump into a farm of lamas or see a real Formula 1 car with two guys in helmets on a backroad between some villages. True story.
If you don’t know what untypical Austria (without Alps) looks like, click here.