Rivers have been trade routes since ancient times and they flow downhill! Upon retiring and with no previous cycling experience, this realisation prompted me to set out to pedal from Rotterdam to Vienna, following the rivers Rhine, Main, Tauber, Altmühl and Danube.
Nearly all the journey was on dedicated cycle tracks or quiet country lanes.
Wayside B&Bs and hotels were plentiful so I enjoyed the freedom of pootling along on my sit-up-and-beg Dutch bike, allowing each day’s destination to emerge from my situation.
Most towns and villages along the route have old half-timbered centres as well as some historic castle/palace or sumptuous baroque monastery to admire. Highlights were the boat from Kelheim through the Danube Gorge to Weltenburg and back (no track on this stretch), the view from Passau castle of the confluence of the Danube, the Ilz and the Inn and the baroque monastery at Melk. Above all though, I came to enjoy the simple pleasure of passing through fairytale landscapes under my own steam.
Life changing? Oh yes: this year I’m setting out to dawdle the entire length of the Danube on the same bike, on a new saddle, on a smaller budget but taking more time.
For superb ‘Bikeline’ maps with tourist info visit www.esterbauer.com
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