Lakeside landscapes and villages – Upper Austria’s Attersee


This gallery contains 13 photos.

I am sure many bloggers and travel writers hit the same problem as me. I have been home weeks from a trip and published several items about the holiday, especially the cycling and the food. However I keep coming back … Continue reading

Riding, not despairing in Upper Austria

Salzkammergut mountain biking Austria

Mountain biking Upper Austria

Cycling Salzkammergut Upper Austria mountain biking

When I finished Velo-city I was exhausted, not just by the work and the hours but also because I was fighting a cold the whole week. (Insert man-flu insults here)

Going to the Attersee in Upper Austria with my wife was a planned escape to chill out and recover which for me always includes getting in a few bike rides of some type. Last year in Canada was my special treat to mountain bike at Whistler and tour across British Columbia straight after the event. If had even thought about cycling or mountain biking like that this year it would have been a complete disaster, I would hardly have made any progress.

For three days I was just floored and very happy to be carried around the lake by ferry and lie on the bank in the wonderful summer heat. I didn’t even hassle the landlady for the free bikes promised at the hotel which is very out of character. In fact I was dreading that feeling of a first ride after a break, the knowledge that my legs would be like jelly and in the heat I would really suffer.

KTM Lifejoy mountain bikeBut on Wednesday the bikes turned up and within a couple of hours I just knew I couldn’t resist. I also knew I didn’t fancy the busy road around the lake, I was just so tempted by the minor roads and tracks up and away from the side of the valley that decided to take the risk that I would expire and head up and away for a few km.

Up the first slope I was very grateful for the extra big sprocket provided by a Shimano Megarange 34 tooth sprocket because it was a real struggle. However then I looked back. Maybe just a hundred metres gained and I had a spectacular view over the Attersee.

Cycling Salzkammergut Upper Austria mountain biking

And then suddenly I was back. I just wanted to ride up and away to take in the views and get that sense of achievement that comes from getting to the top of a decent hill. I really did find myself saying “its back, I’ve got my mojo back” which does seem toe-curlingly embarrassing now.Cycling Salzkammergut Upper Austria mountain biking

Cycling route signs Salzkammergut Upper Austria mountain bikingAfter that I was able to enjoy the tracks that led up into the hills and do a great loop around the Wachtberg. Only a few km but quite a lot of climbing up around the beautifully tended farmhouses and then along wooded trails before a tricky descent back almost to lake level at Alexenau and back to Weyregg am Attersee with great views all the way along. The best 7km ride in ages!Cycling Salzkammergut Upper Austria mountain biking

Weyregg am Attersee AustriaOnce the ice was cracked I was into my riding for the next three days. The network of roads and trails was just stunning. Just as importantly they were brilliantly waymarked and I could almost have navigated without the map. I nearly made it up to around 1000 metres every day on climbs like the Gahberg and the scenery was just stunning, plus we had some great rides together. I didn’t complete either of them but the temptation of the longer distance Salzkammergut mountain bike routes like the Richtberg Runde and the Krahberg Runde were always there – maybe an excuse to come back.

Despite the bike being a very ordinary mtb clone the KTM Lifejoy it did at least have a Cyclist beware sign Salzkammergut Upper Austria mountain bikingtriple chainset and the Megarange so I could ride everything. Surfaces were not technical, mostly dirt road, so the challenge was steady climbing, not staying on the bike. I wasn’t properly kitted up for full cross country with helmet and toolkit so I had to be a bit careful not to get stranded in the middle of nowhere because there were certainly almost no other riders, astonishing given the quality of the riding.

None of the rides was longer than a couple of hours but all were proper summer holiday rides, great scenery , great weather, hardly anyone around and properly recharging the batteries.

A decent photo gallery too. (just take a look at the route profile on the final photo!)

Cycling Salzkammergut AustriaAttersee lake view Upper AustriaCycling Salzkammergut AustriaCycling Salzkammergut Austria

21st Century hunter-gatherer in the sunset

Weyregg am Attersee Austria

Weyregg am Atersee

In the time of our ancestors “go get me something to eat” was a significantly more challenging task than it is today. However in our family it has become a bit of an in joke for when I come back from walking the dog or cycling with something edible like mushrooms, satisfying my hunter-gatherer instincts Mrs Idonotdespair calls it.

However on holiday we had the most indulgent hunter-gatherer treat to start our week at Weyregg am Attersee when the hotel landlady told us on our first night that there was a party with food down by the lake.

A more chilled, self-indulgent evening would be harder to imagine.

Eight of the best local restaurants in the area have clubbed together to form a consortium called Kulinarium Attersee which promotes local food and cooking through a series of soirees and events during the year.Weyregg am Attersee

Kulinarium AtterseeEach provides staff for a bar promoting Austrian wine and beer together with a food stall cooking samples of their best produce and meals. In this case the Kulinarium was celebrating the start of summer at the tiny park beside the freshwater aquarium in Weyregg just a few metres from our hotel. We knew we were on to something made for us when we could hear the covers band playing from our window, the sort of guys who can clearly handle a good blues tune but whose repertoire stops in about 1975.

When we wandered over we were able to get gently sozzled on chilled Grüner Veltliner and Aperol spritzers while Aperol spritzesampling tapas sized portions of everything the area had to offer. So each time my wife said “go and get me something to eat” I was able to return with sampler portions of sushi, of smoked trout, lamb cutlets and red wine risotto or duck skewers all evening. By the end if you had asked me to hunt anything more demanding than a chocolate mousse the species would have become extinct.

Stunning, stunning sunset over the lake to wind down.

We were falling for Attersee already.

Lamb cutlet and red wine risotto

Attersee KulinariumDuck skewersWeyregg am Attersee, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace, summer palace of the Hapsburgs

Gardens Schonbrun Vienna Schonbrun Palace Vienna

If you read this blog regularly you might anticipate that all I did in Vienna on my is cycle, think about cycling, talk about cycling – and eat.

Not true! It is a pretty special city of course in its own right with an extraordinary heritage of the various versions of the Austrian empires. However I have always been so busy with the cycling blog posts I hardly get round to publishing the tourist photos.

Time rectify the balance a bit.

On the day after Velo-city my wife and I made our way out to Schönbrunn, summer palace of the Hapsburgs in the Vienna suburbs. According to Wikipedia it is the most visited attraction in Vienna, I went there last year as well and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was keen to go again which is quite unusual for me.The audio tour and other materials give a good feeling of the various royals who lived there and wrap them up with the history of this enormous empire at its peak. Inside it is just extraordinary opulence, outside it is all about scale.Gloriette Schonbrun Vienna

This time it was hot and sticky so the gardens and courtyards were blazing but the gardens looked great. No photography allowed inside so this post is just a short gallery of the outside including the views across the gardens to Maria Theresa’s Gloriette looking down on us and the more secluded spaces like the orange garden.

Oranges at Schonbrun Orangerie Schonbrun

17 days in Slovakia and Austria – lots to catch up on

Austria, Salzkammergut, Upper Austria
Salzburg AustriaTomorrow the nine hour train journey from Salzburg to Brussels will mark the transition from holiday back to reality. The hotel wi-fi has enabled me to download the dreaded emails and the Salzburg weather has turned foul in celebration.

If I count all the photos and stories that are bubbling round in my brain I could be posting for two months but I am sure some of it will fade, sometimes an idea that just seemed right at the time turns to mush when confronted with a keyboard.

However stand by for a sequence which will include the unexpectedly delightful Bratislava old town, deep immersion into the cycling frenzy of Velo-city Vienna and then a week’s relaxation by the beautiful Attersee in the Upper Austria (Oberosterreich) region. It is part of a great tourism area marketed as the Salzkammergut and thoroughly recommended.

A great time, loads of cycle chat and some lovely images to share. Now I just need another holiday to write it all up!

Thanks Vienna – you were looking great for Velo-city #VC13

Thank you Vienna

Almost time to finish, but all the delegates seem to agree that they saw a new Vienna this week. Bike culture on the streets, but even the historic urban architecture was looking particularly spruce.

It was for me! Last time I was here we were swaddled up against late spring cold, now we saw an outdoor city, a lively city, stunning weather after the rain of the early week.


Radcorso – stunning night in Vienna with 5000 cycling friends at #VC13

Radcorso Vienna Photography team

Intrepid ECF photographer Chloe trusted me enough to let me pilot the cargobike around Vienna last night for a fantastic evening of bikes, of sights, of scenery and the fellowship of the wheel.IMG_1541

She captured hundreds of shots which will take some sorting, but suffice to say we had a ball. Over 1000 delegates were joined by nearly 4000 local riders for a great evening out, part festival, part bike ride.

Hard to believe it is almost over for another year, but there will be a rich repository of blog material for the next few weeks! (And lots, lots more on Twitter, follow me on @maynekevin and #VC13 for the Velo-city coverage)

IMG_1786 IMG_1825IMG_1817 IMG_1814 IMG_1808 IMG_1799 IMG_1792IMG_1783 IMG_1747

Madness Motel – the sequel

What is it with me and mad hotels this year?

Back in March In blogged about the wierd converted car park in Taipei – Madness Motel. Now thanks to Colm Ryder from Dublin Cycling Campaign sending me this photo I was reminded of the motel our Austria tour stayed at in Krems.

Cycle tour participants at the Motel in Krems

Motel - Krems AustriaThe idea must have seemed sensible to someone. The walkways outside the rooms look a bit unsafe, so we just add some industrial fencing.

I mean who says modern design is dead.

Strong suspicion that this might be related to the recent EU egg crisis – the banning of battery chicken farming may be the cause. Or is it to reassure cycle tourists about their bikes?

Multinational Cycle Tour from Vienna – Danube Cycleway and Franz Schubert Cycleway

Göttweig Abbey (Stift Göttweig) TerraceSitting on a sun soaked terrace overlooking the Danube Valley. Careful not to drink too much wine before a flying descent! The high spot of a two day, 18 person, multinational cycle tour to follow the ECF AGM . What a great mix – Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Ireland, Spain, Cyprus, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, USA, UK and Germany, all brought together by cycle advocacy.

Also see my gallery of houses and gardens from the ride here

Day 1. Vienna to Tulln an der Donau on the Danube Cycleway. 45km.

Leaving Vienna on the city cycle network and then joining the side of the Danube Canal until it joins the main river about 7km out of the city.



Then a mixture of paths by the river and minor roads until suddenly we turn a nondescript corner and the striking Klosterneuburg appears in front of us. A leisurely lunch in the café and a wander through the artworks in the gallery.

Back onto the minor roads and a wind through the summer houses which appear all the way along the river. These range from wooden shacks to large houses but almost all are in great condition and show a real affection by the owners for these properties.

Danube Radweg

Danube Radweg

Then emerging onto the banks of the river again for a push on to Tulln. This was actually quite hard for the members of our group who are not regular tourists. A bit tired and we had moved to the north bank which exposes us to the full breeze from the east.It just proved the point that wind is a far greater enemy of the cyclist than hills.This stretch of the river was actually a bit of a disappointment, it really does look like an enormous canal but it is a really easy ride. It is also clearly popular with local riders who seem to really enjoy heading out down one side of the river and returning on the other.

It was also good social cycling territory for us because we could ride socially after being hassled by drivers a number of times.

However the light was stunning and it brought out smiles on all the faces, especially as we swung over the last bridge to Tulln.

Tulln an der Donau Marcus Aurelius

Tulln an der Donau Marcus Aurelius

Boldly looking out over the river is Marcus Aurelius – provincial governor who protected the Danube frontier against the Barbarians before later becoming Roman Emperor.

Day 2. Tulln to Krems. Mostly the Franz Schubert cycleway – 55km

Named after the area where trendy citizens of Vienna would come for summer break in the early 19th century including the fashionable young Schubert.

Particularly famous for its wines, the Lower Austrian wine route celebrates hundreds of years of winemaking on the fertile flood plains that border the Danube.

Celebrating 700 years of winemaking

Celebrating 700 years of winemaking

This route started pancake flat, sticking to the floodplane of the Danube despite swinging south of the river for a more scenic route. It was lovely.  Spring was everywhere and the stunning light brought out the colours in the architecture, the gardens and the villages.Blot on the landscape was the big ugly scar of the new high speed rail line connecting Vienna to Germany. Time for a few photos to send off to the anti-HST campaigners in the Chilterns.

But the stars of the first part of the ride were the little wine shops set into the bluffs at the edge of the floodplain. These have existed for hundreds of years, behind each house is a deep cellar running into the hillside. For two hundred years they have had a unique licence granted by the Hapsburg dukes. This allows each vintner to open for just six weeks a year and sell an agreed amount of wine. By arrangement the farmers have set up a roster which means that they don’t all take the same weeks.

Schubert Radweg gets hilly

Schubert Radweg gets hilly

After we end the wine route we cross a tributary of the Danube at Traismaur and set ourselves up for the final 20km which are very different – two substantial climbs, the only ones of the ride. But it’s well worth it for me because we get up to some stunning views over the Danube. Our group of commuter cyclists and campaigners did rather find it hard going, lots of walking for this last leg. But hats off to Yurgos from Cyprus – rode everything on his Brompton with great style.

Approaching Gottweig Abbey from below

We have to climg that?!

We are headed for Göttweig Abbey (Stift Göttweig) which is a Benedictine monastery set in a most amazing position on a hill above the town of Krems. The monastery was the dominant economic force in the region for hundreds of years owning the land, the farms and of course all the rights to the surrounding vineyards.

Now that produce can be celebrated in the restaurant which must have one of the best views in Austria, especially on a spring day. Having a hard hot ride to the top justified a couple of courses and a half bottle of the fruity white from the surrounding hills.

Gottweig Abbey descent

Gottweig Abbey descent

White knuckle descent but well worth it. Thanks to Wilhelm of Elite Tours for the entertaining leadership and efficient organisation.

Hands up everyone who thinks Vienna’s public rental bikes are rubbish?

So who thinks the city bikes are rubbish?

Is it still acceptable for a major city to have a public bike sharing scheme with rubbish bikes?

Do not despair’s message is that there is nothing that cannot be made better by a bike ride and that any bike is better than no bike. But come on folks, you want to be a world leading cycling city with these?Vienna City Bikes

To be fair the current pro-cycling administration in Vienna inherited the current fleet. But if they really want to make a good impression at the Velo-City conference in 2013 then this should be an easy victory.

The booking and hiring system works well enough, all hired by credit card. But the bikes them selves are really poor. In particular 80% of the fleet has no gears and is set to a stupidly high single gear ratio which leaves even a stronger rider labouring and novices wobbling away from stops. Hardly something to make the casual rider think cycling is easy and comfortable.

Add solid tyres, tired and rattling equipment and regular breakdowns – could do better.

I’m quite looking forward to one of London’s fat monsters, they may be heavy and slow but they are comfortable and reliable.