We left Český Krumlov with mixed feelings. The disney-like town was to be our last major stop before saying farewell the Czech Republic. Despite being beautiful it was sadly overrun by the tourism industry.
Through a drizzle of rain we headed south to the border, determined not to let the mountains ahead stop us from reaching the Austrian city of Linz some 70kms away.After meandering though forests by the river we started the climb to the border, stopping for a final Last Supper to spend our remaining Czech koruna. Trying hard to spend every last coin, we splurged on beef stroganoff, veal medallions with mushroom sauce and crepes with caramel ice cream and orange segments topped with liqueur. Although completely stuffed, we barely put a dent in the remaining cash as the bill ended up costing only 630Kc (€23/$32AUD) including all drinks. Although sitting there ordering more and more food was on offer, it was sadly not an option. We had a mountain to climb.
Almost immediately after our lunch we started climbing up 1km of elevation for over 5kms of riding to reach the eerily abandoned border station sitting on the edge of Austrian Czech border. One of many throughout Europe, long disused following the implementation of the Schengen Agreement.
As one hill crest greeted us with another we were finally rewarded with a descent, but unfortunately on a 130km/h highway full of traffic. At this point the heavens opened up and we were forced to abandon the ride and stop in Bad Leonfelden, a small town 6km from the border we just rode from.
The town had a certain end of the world/Walking Dead vibe. All of the shops including hotels were closed. Exploring the empty roads and footpaths we eventually came across a young girl who cheerily announced in her best english that it was a public holiday…May Day.
After finding the only open hotel in town and picking out an escape vehicle in case of any further weird occurrences we hit the hay with rain bucketing down outside.
Heading off early to continue our attempt to reach Linz we were forced to abandon riding on the roads as there was no shoulder to speak of. We headed onto hiking and horse trails filled with deer and a variety of signs displaying all of the bird life that we would not see.
Eventually we were led though what looked to be a petting zoo complete with what looked to be a bear cave with warning signs. We heard a loud grunt and out piled a small army of pigs who tried to follow us from the confines of their enclosure for as long as possible.
Snaking though some small riverside villages we were eventually led back onto the main road although Google Maps had some funny definitions as to what constituted as a road.
The final kms were on some beautiful roads with valleys and creeks, before finally reaching the safety of bike paths on the outskirts of Linz.
Before riding to the campsite we decided to head on a little further to reach the Mauthausen Memorial, One of the first large-scale Nazi run concentration camps and the last to be liberated by the Allied forces. At least 90,000 people perished here during the war.
The site contained a large museum filled with audio and video recordings of survivor and witness recounts. One survivor Stanislaw Kudlinski could not wait to be transported home after the liberation. He was kindly donated a bicycle by local nuns and proceeded to ride the extremely long way home to Poland. He held onto the bicycle for the rest of his life. It was donated to the museum recently where it is now displayed as one of the many reminders of the resilience and the will to live that these prisoners had.
We only took one photo, shown below, which to me sums up the bleakness and the horror contained within the walls of the compound.
Feeling dizzy and drained from the visit to the memorial we headed on for the last few kms to our camp site for the night.
Hotel Accomodation: €77.30
Total Costs: €108.77/$154 AUD
Camping Fees: €19.50
Total Costs: €38.69/$55 AUD