The word Passau popped up in my head many times in the last year. I cannot say why, but is has a certain ring to it. It seems in my head that pass (like a pass in the mountains) is in this world and the word ‘au’ which means meadow in old German. So what will the town look like?
Riding along the back roads, finding my way out of Vienna, which is not that easy, I am thinking about where to we stop that day? We are going west, the sun is at our back but it is not warming us that much at 54 Degrees F. Adding a few layers to our outfits helps a lot. The roads I choose are back roads, curvy but not difficult. Some detours even bring us past fields of wheat, corn and potatoes. Riding, after so many days in Budapest, Szentendre and Vienna, is a pleasure. Yes, it takes all day to get from Vienna to the German border but crossing the border is hardly noticeable, one sign spells out “Thank you for visiting Austria” the other “Welcome to Germany”. It could not have been more pleasant.
On the way to Germany and with Passau still in my head, I see this wonderful restaurant around noon. Many cars outside indicate to me a popular place. We are seasoned travelers now, we stop when we feel like it, do not chase the sun any longer and we stop for lunch when it feels right. The fried Zucchini, the fresh pressed apple cider with a piece of pie as desert gave us new strength. A birthday party for ‘Margaret’ was in progress during our stop over; she was turning 80 years old. Just before we left I walked over, sang her a ‘Happy Birthday, dear Margaret’ song, gave a Canada pin as a momentum and made her day. She might still be wondering who this ‘young’ man was that sang for her that day. It made all of us smile.
In late afternoon, close to Passau but too beat up by the cold weather and just before it started to rain seriously again, we came into a town named Untergriesbach. Yes, it is easy for me to say that and for all you English readers, yes, those German words are long, and I know it.
We decided to stop for the night; it was late enough, even if we did not get to Passau yet. I checked with two hotels in town but their prices were too high. A one-night stay for 80 or 90 Euros is just too much for my budget. The last hotel, a nice enough place with a 3 star rating, pointed to a little Gasthaus nearby, that might have room for us. Driving up to it, we found it closed with just a note in the window, “See us in town at this address”. Ok, off we go and we do find the woman running this place. She drives back in her car; we follow her on our bikes. It was somewhat of a comedy but we agreed to take the room for the night (what choice did we really have, it was raining by now?) for 50 Euro incl. breakfast. The problem was this guesthouse was way out of town. There are neither restaurants near us nor any other shops, just a few other houses. Even for breakfast, we have to ride back into town again, tomorrow morning. For that, we have the whole house to ourselves. There is nobody in the whole place. Even the woman leaves again in her car, leaving us to take care of things. We have a living room, we have the choice to sleep in as many as eight bedrooms, we have access to the beer, to TV, and it is literally our house for the night. It feels a bit strange, I must admit. It feels like we just ‘moved’ to Germany and now have this furnished house to live in. The bikes, parked securely under an overhang since the garage has ‘stuff’ in it, are ok. For dinner, we had an apple and a banana, food we had in our bags as left over from breakfast this morning. As it turned out, the lunch stop was a good thing; at least we had some food in us and the beers we found, the soccer match we watched of the 2010World Series, made up for not having dinner.
After riding in cool to cold weather, we were glad to be dry and comfortable and the sleeping experience, even if it was a bit surreal, added spice to our trip.