Vienna and Baden: Two magnificent cities with historical flair
Starting in Vienna, we are immediately greeted by the imperial and royal charm of the Austrian capital. Fortunately, our cycle tour starts on a Sunday. The streets are less busy, so we have plenty of opportunity to let our eyes wander a little. On the way to Baden, the stage takes us on a kind of city tour past many of the magnificent historical buildings in Vienna's city centre to Schönbrunn Palace. Only then does it become more rural. In the pretty wine villages like Gumpoldskirchen, Mödling or Perchtoldsdorf, the wine taverns invite you to stop. In fact, that would have been a good idea. The blazing sun makes the tour a challenge in places.
But the effort is quickly forgotten in the late afternoon when we reach our destination of Baden. The pretty little town in the Wienerwald is really worth more than just a visit, as we soon discover during our stroll through the town. No wonder that the Viennese aristocracy used to come here to rest and spend their summer holidays. It is not only the lavishly decorated facades from the Biedermeier period that are worth seeing. We also like the beautifully landscaped spa gardens and the famous casino. This time, however, we resist the temptation to try our luck at the roulette table. But who knows - maybe we'll come back again one day. In any case, there is still plenty to discover in Baden.
The lake calls: Off to Rustt
On the second day of cycling, the time has finally come: we are off to Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland. We are very excited. As a steppe lake, it is almost completely surrounded by a reed belt and direct access to the water is only possible in a few places. This is precisely why the lake provides a special habitat for many animals and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As soon as we arrive in Rust - our location for the next two days - we actually have our first encounter with one of them: at the town harbour, one of the numerous storks crosses our path.
And to my great delight, he patiently allows himself to be photographed without any shyness. Speaking of storks. The pretty town of Rust is known as a stork town. Why this is so becomes clear to us right away during our first stroll. After all, there is hardly a house on the main street without a nest perched on its chimney. And on almost all of them there is at least one stork, on some even a whole family of storks. It is not easy to tear oneself away from this sight. But that would have been too bad. After all, the small old town of Rust with its beautiful houses is absolutely worth seeing.
Hungary is not far: day trip to Sopron
It's not far from Rust to the Hungarian border. And the region also has a special significance in German history. In 1989 the Pan-European Picnic took place here, during which hundreds of GDR citizens fled to Austria. We take the opportunity for a day trip on the Iron Curtain Trail, which here coincides with the Neusiedlersee Cycle Path. The destination of this day tour, which takes us through shady forest and past a few bathing lakes for a change, is Sopron. The university town is one of the oldest cities in Hungary. What we particularly like there is the beautiful old town with its many fountains, the restored patrician houses and the fire watch tower.
On the way to Jois: On the boat and to the salt lakes
What would a holiday on the lake be without a boat trip? We are looking forward to admiring the hilly vineyards around Lake Neusiedl from the water. We have 20 minutes to do so. That's how long the ferry ride from Mörbisch to Illmitz takes. After that it's time to pedal hard. After all, the area is known as the windiest region in Austria. We will feel this again the day after next. How good that we are at least well equipped with our rental bikes plus. In retrospect, however, we would probably opt for an e-bike. Before we reach the lakeshore again in Podersdorf shortly after noon, the steppe landscape inland awaits us first.
There the Neusiedlersee Cycle Path meets the Lacken Trail. The Lacken are salt lakes that usually dry up in summer. Even now, however, traces of salt can be seen in a whitish shimmer. The fact that many birds have their home here, or at least make a stopover, can be guessed from the numerous open-air seats for birdwatchers. If only we had packed binoculars. Then at least we would have been well equipped to sit there. But even without binoculars, we spot at least a few geese and a stork. And the information boards tell us which other species can be found here.
Today it will be princely: Excursion to Eisenstadt
A day's break is allowed even on a cycle tour. Instead of two wheels, we take the train to Eisenstadt, the capital of Burgenland. With just under 15,000 inhabitants, it is the smallest provincial capital in Austria. Nevertheless, it has a lot to offer. A special highlight is the Esterhazy Palace, the former residence of the Royal family of the same name. On a tour we marvel at art objects, porcelain and the magnificent rooms of the princes. And on the ground floor we are taken acoustically back to the times when Joseph Haydn was court conductor in Eisenstadt.
After an extensive stroll through the city, we return to Jois by bus. How convenient that we have to change buses in Purbach. This gives us the opportunity to explore Purbach with its town wall, the Türkentor and the Kellergasse. Next to the wine cellars there are small wine taverns. We would have loved to stop here right away. We really love the cute little houses. But since our connecting bus is coming soon, we postpone the stop and now have several reasons to return to Burgenland.
Crowning finale: On Roman tracks to our destination in Bratislava
The Slovakian capital of Bratislava is already waiting for us as the crowning finale of the Lake Neusiedl tour. But before we reach the Danube - and thus soon our destination - we cycle along Roman paths. The Roman land is easily recognisable from afar. Remains of an archway and a column announce Petronell-Carnuntum. Visitors can discover an entire city quarter in the open-air museum. Later we take time for an extensive stroll through the old town of Bratislava. There is indeed a lot to discover in the narrow streets. The numerous bronze figures are definitely eye-catchers - from Cumil, the canal worker, to Napoleon's soldier. But what we particularly like is the flair between the beautifully restored houses, where restaurants, cafés and interesting shops are lined up next to each other. Just the right thing, then, to just drift along and let the cycle tour come to a leisurely end.