Our ship left Obermuhl as soon as all the cyclists were back on board, around 3.30pm. After our coffee and cake, it was very pleasant sitting on the open sundeck while the ship cruised down the Danube towards Linz. We soon reached our first lock; I think this must have been the Ottensheim-Wilhering power station. These locks are immense, at least in comparison with those I have visited on UK canals. For example, our ship MS Theodor Korner is 87m long and 17m wide and later on that week we were part of a three ship transit in one lock! I do not think photos do justice to their immensity, but here are two that might provide an some idea.
On many of the locks there were low bridges and everyone had to vacate the sundeck; there was literally no head room, and the funnel and the cockpits were hydraulically retracted. Most bizarre. We were told that for some bridges they even have to take down the guard rails and remove all the seats from the sun deck!
At our briefing later that afternoon it was suggested that the next day we take a more inland cycle path because the riverside path was thought to be still covered in sediment from the flood. This was advice we followed, along with most of the other cyclists, as far as we could judge. After the briefing it was just about time for dinner. This was taken slightly early to give us time to look around the city of Linz. The main course at dinner was tilapia with prawns, salty but very good imho.
Linz is the capital of Upper Austria, a city of considerable charm. We had a few hours to look around before the ship left promptly, it was emphasised, at 10pm to travel to Mauthausen, where we berthed overnight. Our ship had moored near the Nibelungen Brucke (Bridge), so we were easily able to walk into the old city centre. We walked past the old town hall and soon found the house where Mozart stayed while he was writing his Linz symphony. When we pushed a button in the house wall an extended excerpt of the symphony was broadcast. There was an optional, extra charge, tourist trip around Linz for those who wanted it and we were nearly run over as their mock-train tour crossed our path. We found a delightful courtyard
We were rather foot weary when we arrived back on the ship and rested on the sun deck and watched the very colourful lights of Linz as the ship pulled out and started its trip further down the Danube. I slept well and do not remember the ship stopping and tying up in Mauthausen.
Next day – and only day 2 but already we were in the swing of things! – we were up before 7 and at our breakfast table, having already retrieved and packed our blue and green bottles of water that were left outside our cabin door daily. Breakfast was hearty and our packed lunch selection included pears as the “fruit of the day” (and very good they were too). There was only 35km to ride today but it was really a morning ride; the ship was due to arrive at 1.30. This time we were familiar with the tell tale orange panniers used by Radreisen so there was lots of casual waving and bell ringing as fellow travellers passed one another. We chatted for a while with a group that came from variously the US, Spain and Australia before they sped off to try route variants involving all their bikes’ gears. We continued in a leisurely fashion and on the way witnessed hares, snakes and a herd of farmed deer. We heard bullfrog serenades. We passed houses on stilts that proved very inadequate during the recent inundations, and were still being dried out and repaired. We crossed the Danube at the Wallsee power station, on a busy and quite dodgy narrow road and took a lunch stop drink off the bike trail, in Mittelkirchen. It was very hot and we passed much evidence of the recent floods and villages with extensive and substantial flood protection. We took our lunch in the shade by a nature reserve, surrounded by butterflies. Shortly after lunch we arrived in Grein and were relieved to get off the saddles for the day. We had enough time to walk around Grein and go up to the Schloss and take a self guided tour inside. There were some items of extreme opulence and grandeur, but others, such as the shell grotto, just seemed grotesque.
Outside there was a family of small falcons swooping and calling around the building, hunting the swallows and martins I think.
Back on the ship, it was a red letter day for coffee and cake because there were several cakes to sample and they were being offered with ice cream. Each day, during these eating intervals, we were treated to music from a rather bored looking organist with the customary recording base-backing. I found myself feeling quite sorry for him as he started another tune and crooned some words, totally ignored by the audience, but I suppose it is a job!
Our briefing for the next day was at 6 p.m. It was to be a longish ride of about 51km and we were expected to re-join the ship in Melk at 3pm. The highlight of the day was the the Abbey in Melk so we wanted to arrive in good time and visit the Abbey before meeting the ship. We decided on an early departure, again.