I Love to Bike!

I love biking.

I love biking on bike paths.

I love biking when it feels non hurried and relaxed.

I like it ‘slower’ because there is so very much to take in at ‘bike speed.’ You see so much more, and yes, way too often I have to stop and capture a ‘picture.’

I love the many beautiful bike paths we have biked in Ohio, Florida and now S.C. The views and the nature you encounter on a bike path are just beautiful.

However, we have now discovered a whole new way to bike, and this is my total favorite. A Bike/Boat Cruise on the Danube River in Europe.

I know, it’s very far away, and it costs money, but when there is something you love to do, you don’t mind what it takes, to get you there and do it again . . and, life is too short to not to!

When I love something, I tend to write about it, especially traveling. I came across this saying and it resonated with me: 

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. 

Years ago, we were traveling through Austria along the Danube River and I saw bikers riding along it. I remembered thinking, 'How fun that would be!' I came home and researched biking paths along the Danube and then saw they have Bike/Boat Cruises on this river!  I liked that idea even more! 

I dreamed, planned and then we did it, 14 years later!

 Let me tell you about the Bike/Boat Tour we have done, twice now with different groups of friends, because we love it so much. I get goosebumps just thinking about it again.

(let me insert here . . . there are many bike/boat tours in Europe, and it would be fun to do them all, but checking out their itineraries and routes, some do biking on country roads too, more so, than the cruise we take along the Danube River, and because I like paths better, is why we choose to do this one.

 I wish there would be a bike/boat cruise here in the U.S. I haven’t found one yet. There are many Bike Tours out there, but packing up your suit case every morning and unpacking every night at your new destination isn’t what we like to do!)

Okay, lets go on a bike/boat cruise. This one goes from Passau Germany to Bratislava, Slovakia, or to Budapest, Hungary and back up to Passau.

We usually land in Munich, Germany. Passau doesn’t offer an airport.

We take the train to Passau where our boat will be docked and check into our hotel. We like a hotel that’s close to the river, because the Old Town is right behind us and it’s fun to walk the cobbled streets and check out the many little boutique shops the next day before we board our boat.

We find an outdoor restaurant to eat dinner. Then it’s to bed early, because jet lag may be taking over.  

The next morning, we have a lovely breakfast at the hotel. We ask if they can hold our luggage while we tour Passau because we don’t board our boat till 4:00ish. 

We walk along the river, looking at all the luxurious River Cruise Ships docked there, big tour busses parked nearby, ready to take the cruisers on their land excursions.

 I drool as I see people sitting on their own private balconies on the ship, the sliding door behind them is open, their cabin looks very nice! Trust me, I know what these ships look like, we have to walk through them at times to get to our boat when they are double docked to save $$ on the fees they pay to that particular port.

However, I am very satisfied with the ship we will be on for 8 days of our cruise, even though it won’t be extra luxurious like these are. But! We have maid service for our cabin every day and our own bathroom, just like they do. We have delicious food fixed for us every morning and evening, served in a lovely dinning room, just like they do. We get to see Europe on our own, just like they do. (well, they probably get to see more Museums and Castles and history etc. than we do…) Yes, their boat is beautiful, spacious and newer! But, there is one very big difference,, our trip costs less than half of theirs! 

Across the river, sitting high up on a cliff is a huge fortress overlooking Passau.

We get a ride to take us up there the next day to check it out. We enjoy lunch outdoors and take in the incredible view of Passau below, where 3 rivers meet. 

We find out that this fortress is the Passau Castle where the Amish Hymnal, the Ausbund was printed in 1564. Most of the hymns were composed in the dungeon of the Castle, where Anabaptists were imprisoned between 1535-1540 because of their convictions. This was very interesting to me, having seen the Ausbund hymnal my Grandpa had, or times I attended an Amish church service and heard them sing the songs. 

We go back down to Passau and stroll the cobbled streets of the Old City and shop, or sit at one of the many outdoor cafés to have a drink. The old church is fun to go through and the many steps leading up to it. In fact, there are many steps all over the Old City that are so fun to explore.

Okay, it is now time to go find our boat. We retrieve our luggage from the hotel and a taxi takes us to our floating hotel for the next week. 

We are shown to our cabins, we unpack and then go down to dinner. Our unforgettable week begins! 

The Danube River runs through many European countries, but on the Danube Bike/Boat Cruise, we see Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. There are beautiful paved bike paths along the Danube. Biking beside the river alone is such a beautiful experience, the calm, the stillness, the nature . . .

Add to all that, the little villages we bike through, or the ones nestled into the beautiful landscape across the river. We see the ruins of a fortress clinging to the side of a mountain, and hear waterfalls rushing somewhere in the forest.

And, how can I even describe the Wachau Valley in Austria? Miles and miles of vineyards planted up the steep hillsides along the Danube.

 The romantic little wine villages, the beautiful flowers spilling out of the window boxes in a ray of colors, all looking like they are on steroids, the cobbled streets, the little gift shops with wonderful souvenirs to take home. My favorite jewelry shop, all the bracelets, necklace’s and ear rings, made with stones from the Danube. 

This village, Durnstein, is also where we hike up a steep mountain path to the ruins of a fortress.

 From the top, the views of the Danube floating along far below, surrounded by the hillsides on each side of the river, blanketed in vineyards! It is breathtaking! It’s especially cool, because you conquered that steep hike to see this! It is my favorite day, and the day you pray for nice weather, because the views are so gorgeous!  On both our tours, this day was spectacular weather wise.  Thank you God!

The tour director gives us highlights every afternoon on the boat as to what we can expect along the path the next day. He tells us to check out a Café or favorite restaurant of his, or other unique places we can visit, like a Celtic Farm among other things.

I especially loved the farm along the path where the couple who lived there, used the setting to provide a rest for bikers. You find a table. The owner, and younger guy, all business like with a hint of charm takes your order of sandwiches, desserts and drinks. It is just lovely! As we sat at tables outside the house, surrounded by trees, a grassy meadow, and beyond it, we can see the Danube.

 Behind the house was a working farm, with animals and a garden, and public restrooms for visitors. 

 We also fell in love with another spot on the path, the Herr und Frau had a unique place outside their house, picnic tables sitting between the house and the hedges along the bike path,  potted flowers and planted surrounded us, providing an almost ‘secret garden’ atmosphere,,, and where we had the best Iced Coffee ever and fresh apricot juice! It was just delightful to sit there and relax before continuing our ride.  

We spend a whole day in Vienna, another day we shop and eat in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

The next time, we hope to do the cruise that takes you into Budapest. Be still my heart!

Every day offers a new scene, a new experience, new pictures to take.

And then, the last leg of your ride, you know the boat will be waiting for you, docked along the river, in a picturesque little village, or a bigger one. 

Sometimes you get back before the boat does. Then you have time to go into the village and get an iced coffee, and in Europe, iced coffee always has ice cream in it!

You clean up after a day on the bike, stop by the lounge for the 4:00 tea time, take your cookies and coffee to the upper deck and relax, or stroll the village before dinner. There is usually a church to visit. My favorite thing to do!

The dining room is all set for the 100 or so guests on the boat, and you sit down to a delicious dinner, served by the gracious and genial servers who make sure everything is perfect.

After dinner, if your still docked, you can again ‘check out’ the village.

 If the boat left during dinner, then the lounge, the covered patio or the upper deck provides a lovely spot to sit and relax and maybe catch a sunset. 

You are lulled to sleep as you float down the river to your next destination. You may wake up during the night and realize the jolting you feel is from one of the many locks you go through going up and down the river.

The next morning, the dining room again is all set for you and a breakfast buffet awaits you. Delicious! Then you pack your lunch with the food provided in the buffet, lots of breads, lunch meats, cheeses and jams for wonderful sandwiches, bars and fresh fruit to put into a bag provided that attaches to your bike.

The ‘hands’ have all the bikes lined up along the road or sidewalk, depends what the village offers.

And off you go, a new route, new sights to see along the path. 

My favorite part of the day, is when we look for a perfect spot to sit and eat our packed lunch. It’s usually by the river of course. 

The farthest you ever ride in a day, and only once, is 35 miles, which is a cinch, because you have all day to do it. Other days are like 28 miles or less.

If you don’t want to ride one day, or any day, you can stay on the boat and float to the next destination with the crew or others that choose to stay on board. Lunch will be provided for you and relaxing on the boat for the day sounds just lovely. My sister spent 2 days on the boat instead of biking and said the ‘sights’ from the boat are wonderful too! I may have to try that sometime.

The week goes way too fast! But it’s a wonderful week! It must be, because I can’t wait to go back!

I hope I inspired you to dream big and do it! If you like adventure and something to do on a vacation, this is a wonderful trip to do and I would recommend it to anyone!

Travel - is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.


Comments

  1. Kathy Hemperly

    I just loved traveling down the Danube with you. Your pictures are so beautiful. Thank you for taking me on this journey. I felt like I was actually there with you. You sure do know how to have fun!! I couldn’t be happier for you.

  2. Jay Kennard

    Hello My wife and I are very interested in this trip . We have another couple that would like to go too. Please respond.. Thank you Jay Kennard.

    1. Post
      Author
      Mary Sommers

      Hi Jay,
      We use Macs Adventure as the travel agent to book our cruise. If you Google ‘Bike/Boat Cruises on the Danube’ different websites will come up, but look for one with Macs Adventure. It will give you information on there. You can call, they are out of Colorado I believe, or email. I set up all our bookings through email with them. Very easy.
      The first 2 times we went, we did the bike/boat cruise from Passau,Germany – Vienna, Austria and back to Passau. I do love that trip, especially the tour guide, but that boat is older. When we were on it 2019, they said 2020 would be their last cruise with it, that there would be getting a’new’ boat. Now since 2020 has been canceled, I don’t know what next year will be. The boat was fine for us, both trips, but because it is older, I believe that is why the trip was less expensive.
      We are booked for September 2021 going from Passau to Budapest and back to Passau. I have always wanted to do that one, but the 2 boats that do that cruise were always booked! This time, because Macs Adventure had to cancel all its trips for 2020, a lot of people canceled for next year too, and it gave us opportunity to book early this time and we got on! Its a newer boat, and going to Budapest is a plus, the evening river cruise they say is a must see, so we are excited. However, the price was a bit more for that trip.
      I know you will love the cruise. Let me know if you have any more questions. I would love to hear from you, if your going and which cruise. Thank you for responding! Mary

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