Danube River Tour - Week 4

Day 18 Linz to Passau 96kms

Ferry crossing at 12km. Another at 55kms so we delayed morning coffee until we reached the ferry point. Most of the day’s ride was on beautiful paths winding their way gently through the forest alongside the river. Just gorgeous. We crossed the border into Germany. Everyone made excellent time today, arriving at the hotel by 2pm. There was a brass band playing in the square when we arrived in Passau to welcome us to Germany! We had a lovely group dinner in a garden setting where we tried to explain cricket to tour leader Andrea. He may have been sorry he asked.

Day 19 - Passau to Regensburg 137kms

This was to be our longest ride day for the tour so we were all prepared for a fairly long day in the saddle. It was all flat, easy riding though so it was just a matter of watching the kms tick over. The riding was along bike baths and secondary roads and mostly through farmlands where we whizzed past fields of wheat and corn and at one point, a strawberry farm. There was even a sighting of two small deer in a clearing.

Before we knew it we’d knocked off 58kms and it was time for morning coffee. The afternoon’s ride was more of the same and there were multiple opportunities for food and drink stops. We all made it into Regensburg in pretty good time. Well done to Kati on completing her longest ride ever, who was met at the hotel by the crew with a litre of her favourite cold milk for her efforts!

Day 20 - Regensburg rest day

Our final rest day before the final push into Prague. And a lovely place to have it. Regensburg has a well-preserved old town including a 12th century stone bridge so a wander around town was the best way to spend the day. Being a Sunday, the shops were closed (not a bad thing, although so were the laundromats) so town was not too busy. Most enjoyed a leisurely lunch (with a cleansing ale or two). There was a brief rainstorm, but we didn’t have to ride anywhere so who cares!

Day 21 - Regensburg to Furth im Wald 84kms

Back on the bikes for a varied ride to our last German town. We said goodbye to the Danube today as we start to head north-east towards Prague. We started in the cool of the forest riding a rail trail before we did some climbing for the day which gave us some lovely views over the countryside. After dinner together we said goodbye to guide Anja who says we must ride in her beautiful country of Slovenia next time.

Day 22 - Furth im Wald to Strakonice 104kms

Our last border crossing today (and change of currency) into the Czech Republic. It is often the case that you don’t even know you’ve crossed a border until your phone beeps with a text message from your service provider to let you know about call charges in the county you’ve entered. It was a tough ride today with reasonably long kms and quite a bit of climbing. Let’s just say I was a little hot and bothered and happy to see the hotel at the end of the day and my recovery was aided greatly by a couple of gin and tonics.

Day 23 - Strakonice to Ceske Budejovice 68kms

Some of the road surfaces since we entered the Czech Republic have been a little rough, but today we were treated to a beautiful stretch of almost brand new road which was heaven. The ride was much flatter today with just a few little lumps to keep it interesting. Our hotel is situated on the old town square and we’ll be spending two nights here as we do a loop ride to Cesky Krumlov and back tomorrow. Had just enough time this afternoon to visit the Budweiser Budvar Brewery from which the Anheuser-Busch American Budweiser beer was brewed to imitate. We all found the bottle plant mesmerising!

Day 24 - Ceske Budejovice-Cesky Krumlov loop ride 56kms

Today was a ride from Ceske Budejovice out to Cesky Krumlov for a guided walk with our regional expert guide Justin (seriously, ask him anything!), followed by some time for lunch (the slowest toasted sandwich ever) and the return ride to Ceske Budejovice. While Cesky Krumlov might not be Justin’s favourite place due to its huge tourist numbers and over-commercialisation, it is a beautiful old cobbled town and the castle is quite stunning. It is certainly touristy (probably one of the stranger things I’ve seen on this trip was a busker playing a didgeridoo on the bridge) but I think it is well worth a visit. Today had low kms but had a few short sharp hills to get over and I admit to skipping the return journey after lunch and opting for a ride in the van. Dinner was on our own although most of us ended up at a restaurant recommended by the crew (great recommendation as always).

Day 25 - Ceske Budejovice to Tábor 67kms

Our penultimate ride today and another day of rolling countryside with about 700m of climbing. Richard and I spent a good hour in a small family run brewery at lunchtime sampling some of the freshest tasting beer Richard says he’s ever had (a small tasting only as we still had 10kms to ride). The hotel has something we’d never seen before, a beer spa, where you can pour beer from a tap while you sit in a spa! Tempting, but no.

Day 26 - Tábor to Prague 104kms

Our final ride day. We all dragged our somewhat weary bodies onto the bikes for our ultimate destination of Prague. It was to be another fairly big day with 1200m to climb along the way. Most of the climbing was very gentle with one main climb into lunch and another smaller one straight after. They were very reasonable gradients though (and let’s face it, we’re super athletes after 4 weeks of riding) so no one had any trouble. We re-grouped at the 94km mark and Justin guided us the final 10kms into the city and over the rough Prague cobbles. It’s always bittersweet when a tour ends, but here we are at the completion of another European Expedition. We all made it safe and sound and have experienced another wonderful journey by bike, visiting towns and seeing sights we wouldn’t see any other way. We’ve made our final toasts and speeches (including some lovely text messages from the tour leaders who joined us along the way Jovan, Kornel and Anja), said our goodbyes to local guide Justin and waved off Andrea as he starts his journey back to Italy with the van.

We’ve been fortunate to enjoy our journey with a great group of riders and crew, led expertly by Andrea and look forward to another adventure next year.

Ciao for now.