Motorways are great to get where you’re going and I paid the motorway vignette at the border with Slovakia which was I think €9.60 for 10 days.
However a large part of the journey was through a fairly flat rural type of landscape so I set off slowly down the back roads and enjoyed the drive.
There’s lots to see, pretty little villages just off the road side, large houses built on the top of hills and locals going about their business which for me, is the heart of travelling.
Stopping at some of these small villages to fill with diesel, buy a loaf, or let the dog out for a wee is great fun as you get to see and chat to real people living real lives in their own environment.
Saying that one thing I noticed is that I think less people speak English in Austria than maybe any other country I’ve been to. Luckily they’re very adept at body and sign language and I’ve not been stuck at all over here when trying to understand someone.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…European drivers in the main are much more considerate than British drivers. Oh dear…I expect a backlash for that especially from the pot-bellied sage who spends his life telling everyone how mental it is in France or Italy when in fact they’ve never been and are unlikely to ever go.
All of their wisdom is received rather than first hand and they can spend all day every day elucidating on all sorts of topics that they have no direct knowledge of but someone told them, or they read it somewhere, or there was a programme on TV, or perhaps they just think it…
In fact as long as you spend a short time familiarising yourself with the road signs, the driving rules and the way people behave you’ll find driving much more of a pleasurable experience. Roads in the main are better kept and better designed than the UK and you hardly ever experience gridlock.
Anyway, I was weary and wanted a shower and I know that the motorway service stations usually have them for €1 for 10 minutes so I joined the motorway and within 5 minutes had found a ‘Raststation’. No limits on length of stay or rip off charges like the UK so I was able to have my shower, make a sandwich and then watch a glorious sunset with my coffee. Oh what a life.
Arriving in Linz
I got to Linz fairly late but found the car park beside the river quickly so took Jack for a wee and a leg stretch and then had a cuppa and a quick check of the news before bed.
Bed was interrupted by the screeching tyres of small fast cars driven by small but loud young men. *sigh* It went on til 4am and I kept thinking “They’ll get bored soon…”
However the next day was beautiful, sunshiney but not too hot as it had been in Vienna, and not that sticky humid where you can’t move or breathe. We set off and it took less than 10 minutes to walk alongside the Danube, cross the bridge and reach the city proper.
Linz is the 3rd largest city in Austria and the capital of Upper Bavaria. Like many major European cities the Danube runs through it. Adolf Hitler spent most of his youth here, as did Adolf Eichmann and after the war the city spend decades shedding it’s links to these people.
Despite that dubious link I liked it instantly. I liked that the bridge was wide and allowed trams through, and there was barely any traffic around, and that almost the entirety of the city centre was pedestrianised. Vienna in parts was a mass of revving cars, snarling motorbikes and roaring buses. It really puts you off and given there’s tons of out-of-city parking there is no real need.
Like a lot of other European cities and towns many of the buildings were painted in pastel shades which are not only attractive but peaceful. Sadly there was still graffiti and tasteless advertising, it’s a shame we have to live with these two scourges.
I noticed global brands such as H&M and McD’s and 3 network shops, but there was a wealth of local chain type shops and independent ones so that was a pleasure to see. I almost had a McDonalds because most of the fast food was based around either croissants, bagels or sausages, none of which I fancied.
However just as I was about to give in and dine on the devil’s fare, I found a lovely little sandwich shop which sold a beautiful fried fish and salad sandwich. Who’s ever heard of one of those before! It was only €4 for the sandwich and a drink so much cheaper than a McDonalds, much tastier and much more filling.
I sat in a lovely little park of which there’s a few but I had to share the space with several homeless people. Homelessness is a global problem and it was apparent that most were suffering under the influence of something too.
Some of the public places reeked of stale urine. This was a huge shame for such a beautiful city especially when there are public toilets.
Most of the touristy bit of Linz is where I was on the south side of the Danube and consists of ancient areas including old Roman ruins, old squares and buildings dating back centuries, and modern buildings with glass and steel. Enormous pleasure boats dock here and testify to the amount of tourists who flock to the city. I actually prefer it to Vienna for several reasons: it’s smaller so easier to get around, it’s less expensive and it’s a more down to earth city where real people live.
There’re art installations and centres around the city, technological centres, museums and some beautifully kept parks. I’m staying here for a little while. Like Rouen and Amiens, it’s just one of those places that you want to stop and relax for a while.
As always here’s some pictures of my first day in Linz.