|Subject: Danube between Linz and Wien|
I'm just back from my Easter trip and I'd like to share with you the pleasant time I had on the Danube river shores in Austria, between the towns of Linz and Vienna. Not too far after crossing the big mountains of the Alps and the Tauerns, you enter a very different landscape of low rolling hills, wooded or covered by vineyard terraces. Among them the great river, the Danube, flows with its grey-brown waters toward east and then south, across many other similar lands till it reaches the Black Sea more than 1000 miles away.
While it is a very important waterway across Europe, the commercial traffic is not as heavy as as on the Rhine, so tourist boats take you along great natural landscapes and treasures of art, like the great Baroque abbeys of Melk and Gottwein, the tiny ancient town of Durnstein where King Richard Lionheart was imprisoned, the vinery town of Spitz, the old town of Grein with its little town theatre right out of 18th century.
The area can be visited by car (one road on either shore), by train or by bicycle (a cycling path runs along all of it), but you have to see it from the right perspective, i.e. from a boat. Several tourist companies take you on half-day trips between Melk and Krems on comfortable boats with bar and restaurant. You can of course hop on/off anytime, and load your bike for free too.
All the area has many accomodations, Gasthofs and Gasthaus on both shores; many cater to cyclers with free storage areas and amenities. I just want to suggest a great place, the Hotel Zum Schwartzen Baren in Emmersdorf http://makeashorterlink.com/?R38412D64
It's a fairly priced 4 star hotel located just off the bank of the river, inside old restored buildings, with a very nice bathing oasis (indoor swimming pool under a glass roof, sauna and whirlpool), a prize-winning restaurant and a very friendly staff. We paid 140 eur per night for a large 4-bed room including breakfast.
Just a final tip on the area: while English is spoken by many people, sometimes it is a bit basic and many restaurant menus are in German only (worse when they are also written in Gothic alphabet!) so you better get familiar with some German words or take a small dictionary with you.
Bye, Paolo Trieste, Italy