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Cycling along the Danube – part II

Cycling along the Danube (Donaueschingen- Linz)
Day 5: Donauwörth- Kelheim
We woke up a bit tired. Maybe also because we knew the hardest part of the trip was ahead of us. After breakfast we took care of the formalities at the desk, where the lady had a smile on the face warning us about the steep end of our trail. In front of the hostel we got into a chat with a group of Germans planning to cycle all the way to Venice. Again we started downhill. It was easy to count the miles. We cycled a part of the way with three South American women living in Germany. The time and distance went by fast. Together we reached Ingolstadt, where their journey ended and we had lunch. The distance kept adding up and once over 100km it becomes really tiresome. A hill came our way and we thought of the smile on the face of the receptionist. Managing the first hill, we went down to the city, but NO it was not over yet! There was a whole kilometre of 22% uphill climb in front of us! We went on foot to reach the hostel Kelheim and were very happy to get a shower. The staff disappointed us a bit, just leaving us a note the keys are in the room. Hostel Kelheim offered a special place for bicycles, but since the reception was closed, we couldn’t find it. The bathroom was shared and we didn’t know where. Luckily a teacher escorting children who spent the night at the hotel let us use her bathroom, not knowing we could use the down on the other side of the hall.  The children were on their vacation and had a part that evening. We got a bit nostalgic. Where are the days we had such parties, when we were young and did all sorts of things on school trips in nature. Despite loud music and children running on the hall we fell fast asleep.
Day 6:  Kelheim- Straubing
It rained at night and we woke up in a cold morning. We came to breakfast just as the children finished. The staff was nice and made us a big breakfast and packed fruit for the road. We learned the hostel should have been closed, because the school group, but they did us a favour by letting us spend the night here. Also they apologized for the confusion with the showers. They explained they’ve sent all the info by e-mail, which we haven’t been checking for the past few days since on road. We accepted the apology and with a lot of good will pressed forth. Today we were glad we “only” had 95 kilometres of the trail. This part was flat and almost all the way along the river. We both felt tired and thought about ending our experience early. Arriving at Straubing was a real relief and the way to the hostel Straubing was well marked. Hostel Straubing is very near the main street, but still in a quiet part of the town – and to our luck – not on a hill. We got to love it right away! It had little fenced yard, with picnic tables and ping-pong. There were also several other guests and everybody felt the special good vibes of the place. The owners are elderly and speak very little English, but with good will we could communicate about everything. The shower was in the room, but we had to share the toilet. The room had a bunk bed and a spare bed. It was very neat and clean. Next to the hostel there was a store and a drug store, where we got some energy drinks and a lotion for sore knees. We ate at the picnic place in front of the hostel and again, decided to hit the hay instead of exploring the town.
Day 7: Straubing- Passau
We slept well, but still woke up tired in the nicest hostel thus far. Breakfast was standard and we just didn’t feel like going on. Slowly we packed and got our cycles ready. There was an easy flat stretch in front of us. On the way we stopped in one of the many pubs. After lunch we felt more tired, physically and mentally, but it’s always better to do things in pairs and the city of Passau was a nice surprise, as well as the location of our next hostel. Hostel Passau is placed in a castle! This was not hard to find. The only small problem was the way to it, for it was up the hill and again we walked a part of it (some 100m). Hostel Passau is a mixture of an old castle and modern architecture. The receptionist spoke perfect English and we spent more time with her to learn about the town and the castle itself. We had a room with a view to the city. We had our own shower and toilet – a real luxury for a traveller! The hostel was a real attraction, and judging by the light windows it seemed rather full. We searched the surrounding of the castle and found many intimate hidden spots. We didn’t feel like going to town because we’d have to get back uphill later on, so we had a castle rest.
Day 8: Passau- Linz
There was the last day of cycling ahead of us. At first we wanted to stay at the castle for a bit longer… after breakfast, with a very rich variety to choose from we decided to press on anyway. We started the touristy part of our route. There are many resting places and restaurants along the way. We cycled right along the river and had to cross by boat, for the path on one bank of the Danube disappeared. We were watching the signs with the remaining distance towards Linz (our final destination). We were making good progress. Last stretch went along a very busy road, but you forget such things when you enter the city. Unlike others it is a vivid and developed centre. The main street is full of shops and bars. We stopped at the train station, to get the tickets back home and asked where our hostel was. Again hostel Linz was uphill and in a big building. The signs led us to it and the receptionist was fluent in English again. She suggested a few places in the city. We locked the bicycles in the garage and went to find our room. It was more like in a hotel. We had our own bathroom and a huge bed. As we noticed the hostel was a popular stopover for cyclists, who want to explore local routes, which are all nicely marked. With shaking and tired legs we went down to the center for a well-deserved dinner and beer. We returned to the hostel quite late and felt really at home, despite its big size.
Next day we took the morning train at 7 o’clock, so we packed before we went to sleep. It was nice to fall asleep with a thought of making it over 700km.
Tine in Kim
Translation: Borut Jurišić

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