Vienna to Brno CZECH REPUBLIC#1



August 2019

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. Prague is the largest.

The bike ride from Vienna to Brno took us five days, riding through a diversity of landscapes, quiet villages and small towns.

Day 1    Vienna to Unterolberndorf.

Along the way to Brno

The ride from Vienna in Austria to Brno in the Czech Republic is approximately two hundred and fifty kilometres. For most parts, the route follows designated bike paths including the Eurovelo 6, the Amber Trail Eurovelo 9, the Iron Curtain Trail and the Eurovelo 13. The ride, like our ride along the Elbe and Oder Rivers in 2014, was just as memorable, especially for us as we have an interest in the historical events that occurred along the Iron Curtain following the end of WW2.

The ride out of Vienna at first followed the river then the path took a sharp turn onto the Eurovelo 9 and ran parallel to a railway line. The riding was pleasant and it was good to feel the excitement of the pending ride to Brno in the Czech Republic.

The blue and yellow bridge across the River Danube, Vienna.

It’s obvious from the above photograph that the Viennese are bike conscious and the riding of a bike does have an elevated status. Vienna has had a Green party in the coalition government for most of the last decade and they have promoted bike riding as a Green policy.

The bike path running parallel to the railway line.

There is something reassuring about riding along the side of a railway line as you know if you have a serious breakdown, the ride becomes too steep or if you run into a tempest you can always abandon your ride and catch the train.

Profile of the ride from Vienna to Brno.

Looking at a graph showing the profile of terrain, like in the above photograph, doesn’t tell us much other than it’s going to be flat going for around twenty kilometres just out of Vienna then there will be ups and downs until around the 190 kilometre mark where it will be an uphill slog to Brno. What I need to know is what percentage of slope the portion just prior to Brno is going to be.

PERCENTAGE of SLOPE….The percentage of slope (grade) is calculated by dividing the amount of elevation change by the amount of horizontal distance (sometimes referred to as ‘the rise divided by the run’) and then multiplying the result by one hundred.

Bev and I find it hard going (even with electric motors) riding up 15% and 25% grades, which we have come across in Switzerland. They are definitely walk-up only!

Bev walking up what I guessed was a 15% grade.

At the start of any ride one’s mind is full of expectations as to what lies ahead, especially when you do not make prior accommodation arrangements. The excitement of the journey for me is wondering where we will sleep the night. Will it be in a lavish hotel, in a private home, in a grubby hovel, in a forest with our tent or maybe in a bus shelter?

The way ahead.

It was mid-afternoon when we decided to call it a day and we found ourselves in the village of Unterolberndorf. An aerial view of the surrounding region shows a colourful patchwork of fields in the area. I have selected an image from Google maps for you to ponder. Unless you see an aerial view of the topography it is difficult to comprehend the vastness of lands under the plough.

Google image showing the vast area under the plough in the vicinity of Unterolberndorf.

In the 1980s when Bev and I were travelling in Europe I wondered if there was a piece of undisturbed original forest in Europe and I discovered there is almost nothing left of Europe’s famed forests. There are forests of course, in fact, 35% of European Union countries are covered with trees but they are secondary-growth plantations. To find Europe’s last old-growth forest you have to go to the Bialowieza Forests on the Czech Polish border. Some trees growing there are over forty metres high and it is said they are approximately six hundred years old. It is surprising there are any undisturbed forests in Europe at all when you consider the ravages of war and the necessity of wood as a fuel source in days gone by.

The photograph shows the effects of war on a once beautiful forest in Europe. Image credit:

The above photograph shows the effects created by the ravages of war. To quote the Discovery Magazine: ‘Intense artillery fire during the Battle of Verdun felled nearly all of the region’s trees, and millions of exploding shells left deep depressions, exposing the limestone to bedrock’.

Dinner on our first night was on a damp and dreary balcony of the Magister Hotel in Unterolberndorf. It was, like the food, nothing exciting. Our meal was simply noodles and vegetables cooked on our portable stove. One’s culinary skills cannot be exploited if the only ingredients comprise noodles and two vegetables. There was a promise of breakfast in the hotel dining room next morning.

Day 2 Unterolberndorf to Altichtenwarth.

On our second morning from Vienna we treated ourselves to a hotel breakfast and although it may not have been the healthiest of meals it was enough to fire us up until lunchtime.

Surprisingly, in the square outside the Magister Hotel there was a little piece of Uganda and the first job at hand was to find out more about it. Uganda is in central Africa and because I was in the region in the 1970s my curiosity was aroused.

In the 1980s Uganda was ruled by a despised dictator and people, being unhappy with the dictatorship, formed a resistance movement. In June 1985 leaders of the movement met in Austria at the Magister Hotel and discussed the final details of a plan to overthrow Uganda’s dictator. The outcome was the formation of a democratic government.

A square metre of Uganda outside the Magister Hotel, Unterolberndorf.

A new era.

Preparing the site in Uganda for a little of Unterolberndorf soil.

The square in front of the hotel was traffic free and we cruised around it a couple of times, not paying attention to the exit point to the Czech border. We found ourselves up a side street in which there was a colourful building decorated with mosaic tiles.

Bev cruising around the square. The little piece of Uganda is in front of the parked car.

The creative building we found in a side street, with colourful and detailed mosaics.
Was it planned or did it simply evolve?

Images on the side of the building we found up a side street.

Detail of the fine mosaics.

At first, I thought the building was a kindergarten but it was later confirmed to be a private art gallery and cinema.

Since we commenced our Observations from the Saddle of a Bike we have come across a number of fine examples of mosaic work. For beauty and detail go to Archives November 2012 Day 2 Meteora Greece and for size go to Archives November 2012 Tirana Albania.

It’s good to start the day clean and tidy. Note the clean Ortlieb pannier.

Ortlieb panniers are most probably the best you can buy and we have no hesitation recommending them to touring cyclists who wish their gear to remain secure and dry.

In 1982, Hartmut Ortlieb founded ORTLIEB in Nuremberg, Germany. The first ORTLIEB bike panniers were a personal need for waterproof equipment (waterproof panniers were not available at the time). The first products were handmade on Hartmut’s mother’s sewing machine and they were made of truck tarpaulins. These prototypes were tested by Hartmut and his friends on self-organized bicycle and climbing tours.

Smooth ride ahead, what a wonderful bike path, the Eurovelo 9. The only other traveller was a cat.

Rolling hills of sunflowers.

Sunflowers are a valuable crop to grow and the seeds are tasty. If you eat the seeds of sunflowers make sure they are not contaminated with toxins. Only eat certified organic ones.

A sunflower head in all its glory. This sunflower head was approximately 400 millimetres in diameter.

Sunflowers are allelopathic plants (they suppress other plant growth around them). Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon where one plant inhibits the growth of another plant. This occurs through the release of allelochemicals, which restrict the competition of other plants nearby. When we companion plant our vegetable garden we are unconsciously taking allelopathy into account.

Riding through unfenced farming land.

The keen observer will note in the above photograph there are no fences. This revelation, if I may call it that, didn’t come to me until I was writing this blog and inserting the photograph. After discussing the fact with Bev we agreed that along most bike paths in Europe there are few fences, therefore no gates to open, barriers to manoeuvre through or grids to cross. The absence of fences got me thinking about how farmers determined where the boundaries of their lands were, which brought me to delve into an interesting study of the history of land ownership. For those who want an interesting read about property boundaries evolving from when man turned from hunter and gatherers to farmers and agriculturalists a good read is ‘LAND’ by author Simon Winchester.

Unfenced land such as in the above photograph makes sense as every square centimetre needs to be under the plough to maximise profits and fences are an inconvenience when working the land.

Entering the village of Oberkreuzstetten, another village with a name that requires much practice to pronounce by those not familiar with the language!

Riding through Oberkreuzstetten I found things to photograph. My favourite image was a festoon, or swag, over the entrance to a house. I think I could get hooked on festoons like I am on arches!

Painstakingly painted festoon in Oberkreutzstetten.

A close-up view of the festoon depicting what I suspect is local produce.

Our next discovery on our ride was coming across nodding ‘pump jacks’ pumping oil from deep underground. We had entered the Vienna Basin oil fields. Pump jacks are also known by more descriptive names such as a Grasshopper pump, Thirsty Bird and Rocking Horse Dinosaur. The first pump jack to be put into service in the basin was in 1925 and since then pump jacks have been steadily extracting oil and supplying a portion of Austrian needs.

A Thirsty Bird, a new bird for our bird list.

An unusual landscape.

An alternative to fossil fuels creeping in. I’m guessing there are as many wind generators as there are pump jacks.

Oil field workers in 1958.

At the end of the day we were getting desperate for somewhere to camp. The village of Altlichtenwarth was absolutely deserted. However, after riding around the village a couple of times we found three people who we asked about somewhere to camp. I suggested to them we didn’t mind putting our tent up in someone’s yard. Andrea, one of the three, said she had a B&B but it was booked for the night but we could erect our tent in the farmyard if we liked. And so we did.

The perfect camp in the farmyard.

The farmyard dinner, much better than the dreary damp balcony meal the previous night.

The fig and the grapes came from the farm and the Wiener schnitzel from the local pub. One of the most satisfying things about down to earth travel is you get to know people up close. The couple we met when enquiring about somewhere to camp suggested to us that after we set up our tent, they would like to buy us a drink at the local. Unfortunately, there were no meals being served but the owner said he would make us a schnitzel to take away; the schnitzel in the bowl is that very one. Silke and Manfred graciously paid for our meal and beer.

Generous people Silke and Manfred. They added to our overall experience of Altichtenwarth.

Staying at Altlichtenwarth was best described as a friendly experience. The owners of the farmyard camp, Andrea and Karl, were definitely happy with their lot, which included a small organic winery. Bev and I were given a tour and Andrea wanted us to take a bottle of their wine with us but, as usual, it was impossible for us to carry.

Andrea the vintner offering us a bottle of Wiesinger Riesling Fizzante.

After our night at the winery I reported in my concertina book that Altlichtenwarth was a place of higher consciousness and I came to this conclusion after we experienced the friendship of Andrea, Karl, Silke and Manfred.

We said our farewells, exchanged emails and invited Andrea, Karl and any members of their family and Silke and Manfred to visit us in Australia.

That’s the end of this post, we haven’t travelled all that far but we did experience a lot. Bev and I hope you enjoyed sharing our ride from Vienna to Altlichtenwarth. If you wish to make a comment please do so.



About tbeartravels

It's been said that I know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about little things. I hope I can share some of this knowledge with you as we travel.
This entry was posted in Odyssey#6 2019 Wandering in Europe. Bookmark the permalink.

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