What a day. It was in theoy an easy day. Somehow we had miscalculated it as an easy 55-60km day. We dallied around having an extremely relaxed breakfast, and saying goodbye to our host, Helene. Packed d'luggage on the bikes, before setting off at a leisurely pace...straight into the teeth of a ferocious head wind.
It wasn't raining, however, and the route was quiet and pleasant. We cycled about 20km before grabbing a coffe, cake and supplies from a little town called Bad Deutsch Altenburg, and then headed out of town over the 2km bridge across the Donau and surrounding flood plains. After that it was 50km along an almost perfectly straight flood defence - beautifully signposted and surfaced, but with no protection from the wind. As a result we both had to grind away for the whole day with no respite (except for the coffee and cake, and lunch stop of course :-) ).
We couldn't hang around either as it was Friday, in the peak holiday time, and 1) we didn't know what time the tourist info place in Vienna closed on a Friday, 2) we had no accommodation booked, and no idea where to go, and 3) the cycle path signs always disappear in big cities, and you end up looking at the map for ages working out where to go next. A diversion on the cycle route took us about 5km out of our way (through some lovely forest, but at a difficult time to appreaciate it), before we actually caught sight of Vienna; I was beginning to think it didn't exist!!
I was actually bitterly disappointed initially (HERE BEGINS A RANT) at how ugly the outskirts of Vienna are. Industrial, covered in tagging, with utliltarian apartment blocks, big roads, and few green spaces. You would think that, given all the supposed progress in construction techniques and materials, that aesthetically pleasing living areas could be designed that equalled, if not surpassed those of the past. (HERE ENDS THE SOMEWHAT CURTAILED RANT).
Things perked up once we got onto Prater Hauptllee through an enormous park and finally into the impressive classical and baroqu architecture for which Vienna is famous. John naviagated masterfully, and we arrived at the tourist info place with time to spare. We ended up in an extremely comfortable, renovated hotel called Hotel am Stephansplatz, with a balcony that overlooked the immense cathedral. Couldn't quite believe it, especially the next morning when I awoke at 6.30am, stood on the balcony, and watched the city gradully wake up....