Hi guys! First post… So I figure, why not share some funny experience?
After a few years without riding a bike, I’ve decided to try it while in Vienna! Such an amazing city to cycle, by the way! But I’ll leave this topic to another article!
Me and my crazy Colombian friend were feeling extremely adventurous and after three hours cycling through Vienna we felt that we were ready for something bigger! So, why not a bike trip? The closest city from Vienna was Bratislava, and after couple Google research and talking to some friends it was apparently a really easy trip: You ride 60km on the Danube’s left bank, cross the river at Hainburg and then ride approximately 20km on the right bank to the bridge. But winter was coming so we needed to hurry up otherwise would be impossible to cycle all the way there!
Our initial plan was to leave Vienna around 10 am and we thought that it was possible to do it in five hours (80 km… Nothing, right? Haha), go around the city, have a nice late lunch and go back with the train that would cost around €10 including the fee for the bikes.
Obviously, we needed a map which you can get those at some stores or buy it online. But, as students and backpackers we didn’t want to spend money unless it is necessary and after some more Google research it seemed that all we needed to do was to follow the Danube river. With our bike, a normal jacket and some sandwiches and bananas and apples, we started our little adventure… Without an official map.
Needless to say that we got extremely lost! Basically, it took us more than an hour to figure out how to cross the Danube… It may seem obvious but you can’t go all the way along the river forever. At some point the cycle path ends and it is necessary to cross the river… At the right bridge. So we cycled back and forth for almost an hour until we found the right one and after being able to achieve that task everything looked fine and we were happy thinking that we would get to Bratislava in maybe four hours.
And then we got lost again! Somehow we managed to end up in a island, then lost again cycling in circles around some factories with no one single living breathing soul around. We found a map in the middle of the road and all became clear. All we needed to do was to go to the Danube-Auen National Park and follow the cycle path all the way to Bratislava. But we were at the wrong part and the wrong gate… Which was closed. At that point it was already after 3 pm and we were still in Vienna! We gave up that day, sat down outside the park along with the Danube river and ate our sandwiches with the promise that we will try again before winter.
4 pm: it was time to go back home. The weather started to change, rain was coming down, the wind was freezing, we couldn’t feel our fingers and all we wanted was our warm hostel/ home. Unfortunately the way we came was blocked with at least twenty firemen, four fire trucks throwing huge amounts of water back to Danube. There were two exhausted soaked up girls with their bikes walking through all that and nobody stopped or said anything and after some really embarrassed moments we tried the highway to go back home along with trucks, more rain and to make everything even better… Blizzard! After six hours cycling we finally gave up and took the metro back home and we never tried it again… The winter was finally here! Although we got lost several times for a really long time, I’m proud to say that we were at the right place! It only took us almost five hours to get there instead of the normal two hours! Haha
After our failed experience, there are some tips for you in case you want to give this bike trip a chance:
1- If possible, try to start it earlier! I’d say around 7 am considering at least five hours cycling, couple of hours trying to find the right path and some time to take a rest and eat something.
2- Find a proper map. Ok, there’s actually something I have to say about that: Austrians, could you please LEARN HOW TO MAKE MAPS? Don’t get too excited if you buy a map that will cost you around €7 and it will obviously be more helpful on your trip, I guess more than going like us just following the Danube, but those maps lack on having names of some streets. I mean, they should at least have the names of the main streets or at least of the ones you want those following the map to actually take, right?
3- Equip yourself properly! We did it on city bikes, which after a while were really uncomfortable. There’re some agencies which provides you the map, the bikes and the whole tour with choices of two to three days tour. Be sure to take enough to drink and snacks as there is nothing directly on the trail until you cross back over the river.
4- Choose the proper time. We did the trip at the middle of autumn but if possible, I’ll recommend you to do it at the beginning. The weather would be nicer, fresher than summer time and not too windy and with no rain at all. If not possible, the path is nice, full of shadows and trees all along so if you end up doing it during the summer, you might as well start it earlier around 5 am.
Of course, there’s always the choice of going to visit Bratislava by train or bus but I can assure you that there’s no much fun way to do it! It’s a nice bike path going from Vienna to Bratislava which is partly asphalt and partly gravel with little traffic (if you’re in the right path) and almost entirely flat! Yes, we never made it but it was totally worth it and I’d definitely do it all over again!