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Travel report from the MS Normandie

Catherina goes by bike & boat from passau to vienna

I’ve been part of the Eurobike team for almost a year and a half now and, among other things, I look after the combination of trips with bike and boat. That’s why it was time for me to head to the sea – or rather the river and experience a bike and boat trip up close. For my husband and I it was ‘all aboard’ the journey Passau – Vienna – Passau on the MS Normandie!

Arrival in Passau and exploring our ‘floating hotel

The starting point of the journey was the university town of Passau. Once there we parked in the Globus Group parking lot. Interesting fact: three rivers – the blue Danube, the green Inn and the black Ilz – meet in Passau. From there, a shuttle bus took us to Passau Racklau, where MS Normandie was ready and waiting for us. The check-in was done very quickly and before the first stage meeting in the afternoon we had enough time to move into our cabin and explore the ship.

At the stage meeting, which was held in German and English, we were told about the route for the following day. Two routes were available, a slightly lighter and slightly heavier track. Jan, our tour guide, knew the routes really well and his insider tips were worth their weight in gold. After the meeting, the crew introduced themselves during a welcome cocktail and we ended the first evening with a cosy dinner.

First cycling stage with beautiful views of the Danube river and Linz

Feeling motivated and strengthened by breakfast we headed in the direction of Obermühl. The Danube was always in our sights and we reached the ‘Schlögener Schlinge’ – my absolute highlight of the first day of cycling. The landscape was really impressive! But enough raving – in the gallery you’ll see a picture of this natural spectacle and know what I mean! After arriving in Obermühl, we fortified ourselves with ice cream before returning to the MS Normandie.

They were already waiting for us, and as soon as all passengers were aboard, we headed for Linz. On the sundeck we admired the passing scenery. When we arrived in Linz we had time to discover the city centre on the tourist train. Then we looked forward to a 4-course meal on board.

Ice cream and feeling like a princess in Greinburg Castle

Overnight our floating hotel took us to Mauthausen. The next morning we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and hopped on our bikes. The goal of the day was Grein. We cycled past wheat and sunflower fields along the Danube until the MS Normandie caught up with us. Interesting fact: if you decide to cycle on the left side of the Danube, you are riding in Upper Austria. If you decide to cycle on the right side, you are in Lower Austria.

Shortly before Grein we had lunch at the Gasthaus Schatzkastl in Ardagger market. I would highly recommend this inn, the food was delicious and the staff were friendly. Especially beautiful was the view of Dornach Castle. When we arrived in Grein, we ate ice cream in the Schörgi ice cream parlour which is located directly on the harbor, where the MS Normandie was already waiting for us. In the evening there was a guided tour of Greinburg Castle.

Third stage to Melk

Today’s cycle tour took us to Melk. My worries about the rather long distance of 50km were completely unfounded: time passed quickly. This scenic cycle path was worth seeing. It travelled continuously along the Danube and we enjoyed the natural scenery. Due to a public holiday, we saw several bands on the way through the villages. Arriving at the ship, we put our bikes away and made our way to the small town on foot. My personal highlight: Melk Abbey. Overnight the MS Normandie took us to Tulln.

From Tulln to Kahlenberg

After breakfast we prepared ourselves a lunch time snack for the journey. We unfortunately had to leave the city of Tulln, which is known nationally and internationally as a garden and art city. However, other highlights awaited us, such as Klosterneuburg Abbey, which lies just outside Vienna. From the Heurigenort Kahlenbergerdorf we went on a hike to the lookout terrace of the Kahlenberg. The hike through the vineyards definitely paid off, we were rewarded with an impressive view over Vienna! We ended the day with dinner on the ship.

Day of culture in Vienna

A rest day was planned for this day, so we booked a city tour of Vienna. I can really recommend this trip. You get a totally different experience when exploring Vienna by bike. On this trip we also saw the green spots of Vienna. We started the tour in Vienna-Nussdorf, where our ship docked the night before. Our guide told us a lot about the artist Hundertwasser. We visited the Hundertwasserhaus, cycled past the Hofburg and took a short detour through the Vienna city park. The tour ended directly in front of Stephansdom in the centre of Vienna. There we took a break in a typical Viennese coffee house. In the evening we got dressed up for a visit to the opera.

Cycling through the beautiful Wachau

The MS Normandie left Vienna and travelled overnight to Dürnstein. We cycled refreshed and lively in the direction of Pöchlarn. On this stage we cycled through rolling hills, vineyards, castles, monasteries and ruins. The Wachau is really beautiful!

In the evening we were spoiled with a pirate dinner, the tables were decorated accordingly, and the waiters and waitresses also dressed up. This dinner was very special for us!

Our departure day:

During breakfast on board we reviewed the past days. In beautiful weather we enjoyed the last few hours on the sun terrace and even spied a few of the cycle paths we had cycled on in recent days. We arrived in Passau about 11 and left happy about our experience, but sad to go.

The shuttle took us back to the Globus parking lot. And with that it was over, our bike and boat trip along the Danube.

I am thrilled and can highly recommend this tour. The atmosphere on board, the cycling stages, the cultural highlights – you see I just cannot halt my enthusiasm. I hope I was able to inspire another bike and boat fan to take this tour, and I am of course happy to help with organisation, after all, I am now a real MS Normandie expert!

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