We started our day with a boating adventure on the most popular river route in Europe. We cruised through the famous Schlonger Schlinge in Austria, where the Danube snakes through steep, forested mountains in a series of sharp and scenic bends. The weather did not cooperate however, and it was cold and wet on the top deck of the boat, where we spent most of our time watching the scenery, cruise boats and towns pass us by. It was fun going through the locks as it was the first locks I have been through on a boat. Watching as the water lowered, then the gates opened and we passed through to the other side. We began biking at Schlogen along the Danube, and headed toward Aschach through a beautiful forest. Loved seeing the wild swans following us on the Danube as we pedaled along the bike path.
We stopped for lunch at the bakery, Cafe Konditorei Weltzer Aschach, just as the rain began to fall. Aschach is an old town in the state of Upper Austria, first mentioned in history in the year 777. We had a delicious Austrian sandwich and the famous Austrian Linzer cookies (Linzerkekse) for dessert. The rain stopped after lunch so we continued riding along the bike path, and crossed over the Danube on a dam.We rode to Ottensheim where we were transfered by private coach to our hotel at Weissenkirchen, in Austria’s Wachau Valley wine region. This charming village is dominated by St Michael’s Church, which dates to 987. The small white steeple on the church is the name given to the town, meaning White Church. Our hotel, the Raffelsberger Hof is one of the many Renaissance buildings with a romantic inner courtyard. We checked into the hotel and then headed out to explore the town and have dinner with some of our group. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
This morning we traveled by train from Cesky Krumlov through the Sumava National Park, the largest national park in Czech Republic to Horni Plana. When we arrived. the bikes were ready for us to start our ride through a beautiful forest, far from traffic and villages, except for the occasional logging truck that takes up the entire path. We entered Stozec where the van was waiting with snacks, water and a shot of Eggnog liqueur. At Nove Udoli we rode our bikes into Germany. This unique border crossing was closed in 1945 and reopened some time ago for pedestrians and bicycles only. At the border we saw a replica of the Iron Curtain that was built after WW II to keep the people living in the Soviet Union, under communist region, from escaping to the west.
Once we crossed into Germany the landscape changed drastically to beautiful manicured fields compared to the poor farming villages of the Czech Republic. Bavaria is among Europe’s most beautiful and serene cycling areas. We rode along a gravel bike path for 7 km, then came to a Biergarten where we stopped for lunch prepared by the owner-family. We continued on the gravel bike path after we left the Biergarten for 18 km to Waldkirchen, where we were shuttled to the historic Baroque city of Passau, situated at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. We stayed at the Alstadt Hotel overlooking the romantic Danube River, where we had dinner with the VBT group. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
Today we met all the people on the VBT bike trip, 20 total, when we met at 8:30 in the hotel lounge with the VBT representative, Barbara. We hopped on a bus and were transferred to Cesky Krumlov in the south of Czech Republic, about a 3 hour drive, our driver made it in 2 1/2 hours including a pit stop. We were met by our VBT leaders Petr and Hana who took us to the Hotel Bellevue where we checked into our rooms. We had some time on our own to enjoy lunch by the river at Papa’s restaurant and explored the town. Cesky Krumlov is a unique UNESCO World Heritage town in Bohemia, built at the curve of the River Vltava and dripping with medieval authenticity. Then we met at 3:00 with Petr for a safety and bike fitting session followed by a warm-up ride through the town and into the countryside for 9 miles. We love our e-bikes and had fun riding the short 9 miles before heading back to the hotel for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
September 15th we started on our VBT Bike Tour along The Tuscan Coast. We met the other riders and the tour leaders at the Hotel Tornabuoni in Florence. There were 14 people on our tour and the two trip leaders, Massimiliano Cenni and Paolo Cossovel. We hopped on the van and drove to Collemezzano to the Agrihotel Elisabetta, where we will be staying for two nights. Our Agriturismo is family run, owner is Luigi Brunetti, who has a passion for farming and wine making. After our warm-up ride, Bob and I rented E-bikes, the group had a guided tour of his wine Cantina, sampling some of Luigi’s varietals. We finished the evening with a sumptuous feast for dinner. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading