|The river invaded the bank|
"Hurry up! we must take the ferry!" It seems I'm tired (or pissed off). I didn't prepare our backpacks last night as usual and slept in, so now we are late and the group is waiting for us. That's how it comes that we left some stuff behind but I'm going to realise it only in Tulln. I have just the time to drop our luggage at the Reception to be picked-up by the van and to ride out the garage after the others. It has been raining all night and it was still raining at break-fast: not a rain storm but a persistent tiny rain. Hard to tell if it stopped: the air is saturated of rain and we quickly ride in a wet mist.
The Donau, impressively swollen, rides also very fast and the line between water and sky is made uncertain by the fog. It's not that we can't see ahead but what we see it's more or less on the same colour, on different nuances of gray. We ride in silence. I think about the ferry, moving from a bank to the other by the stream just tied to a rope. There was something similar also in Florence after the II World War, when all bridges had been destroyed, and the place where it was is still called "La Nave" ("The boat"). It wasn't a boat thought, but a rudimental platform driven by a long pole like a 'gondola' or a small 'renaiolo' barge...
Anyway there is no ferry waiting - or not waiting. We stop at the jetty and give the river a long perplexed look: nobody and nothing in sight, the jetty on the other bank desert as well. Then gradually we move the focus from the ferry to the jetty itself - not only closed by a bar but also unnaturally lifted - and to the bank, partially flooded. I got the impression that in the end there was no reason to hurry up...
It turns out that the ferry company suspended the service dued to the high level of the river that somewhere even overflowed. Great.
We were supposed to ride through the vineyards by the other side of the Donau and to vist the town of Grein, holding "the oldest, still regularly used theater in Austria" (built in 1791), with its original "toilet separated only by a curtain from the auditorium" and "a prison, from which the prisoners could watch for the performances" (cfr. http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Austria/Bundesland_Oberoesterreich/Grein-329799/Things_To_Do-Grein-TG-C-1.html ). Instead we keep riding on this side toward the bridge by Krems but we are forced to take a detour in the inland because the bikelane is flooded too.
We ride on a low traffic road crossing small villages and vineyards. A defence system of walls is ready to seclude them from the recurring fury of the river, the last flood dates from 2013, only one years ago. We meet nobody. In the distance, high on the horizon, almost confused with the sky, the contour of a ruined manor: it's Dürnstein Castle, where King Richard Lionheart was kept prisoner on his way back from the Crusades. Memories of "Ivanohe" by Walter Scott... Rebecca's speech against the barbarity that Ivanohe calls 'glory' and 'light of the chavalry', the touching last scene when she goes telling good-bye not her loved Ivanohe but his wife Rowena, before to emigrate to the Islamic Spain: "a pacific country, and more tollerant toward the Abraham's sons."
|Riding though the vineyards|
Finally we cross a bridge and stop in Krems: one of the oldest town in Austria: "Krems was first mentioned in 995 in a certificate of Otto III, but settlement was apparent even before then. For example a child's grave, over 27,000 years old, was found here. This is the oldest grave found in Austria. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Chremis, as it was then called, was almost as large as Vienna. Krems is the primary producer of Marillenschnaps, an apricot brandy. Krems is the hometown of Martin Johann Schmidt, called "Kremserschmidt", the leading painter, draughtsman and etcher of the Austrian late Baroque." (cfr http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krems_an_der_Donau ). So obviously there is a 'Baroque' church to see... actually three! the original structure of the cathedral, in the middle of the town, is a beautiful gothic with the add of Baroque ornaments and altars, in the main street there is a sanctuary and the Piarists Church dominates from above.
|The ruined manor|
That's the most interesting of the three and worth the climb, under a curious covered straircase. The original structure of the church is Romanic but here the Baroque hit hard. Ouside, placed against the church, there is a wooden 'via crucis' representation with big realistic statues and interesting 'modern' landscapes painted on the church external wall. Our guide didn't come with us and avoided to tell anything about. In the end... "it's Baroque"...
Back on bike we complete the 70 kms to the beautiful Tulln, where according to the Nibelungenlied Attila the Hun saw Gudrun and proposed to her and the hometown of the painter Egon Schiele, whom I'm going to discover in Wien - cfr. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Schiele . We pose for a picture on the Nibelungen's fountain.
|Grein is by the other side|
|Climbing to the Piarists Church (Krems)|
|The wooden 'via crucis' (Krems)|
|On the way to Tulln|
|Tulln by nught|
|Tulln by night|
MORE TO COME