In this article I will be sharing with you some additional photos and stories from the bike tour – with a more personal twist.
Day 1: Make your way to Passau, Germany
My flight to Munich, Germany from nearby Poznan, Poland was an absolute breeze. Just over an hour after lifting off the ground in Poland, I was in Germany for the start of the week-long bicycle tour with Rad & Reisen.
I took a train into dwntown Munich and once there, met up with my friend Kasia, who would be joining me for the rest of the bike tour.
Kasia, if you don’t remember, was the recipient of the 2012 Bicycle Touring Pro travel scholarship. Since being awarded her smile prize, we’ve kept in touch and even did some work on the GoBicycleTouring.com website together.
After meeting with Kasia in Munich, we jumped on another train and made our way to the nearby city of Passau (about two-hours away).
Once in Passau, Kasia and I checked into our hotel room, went out for a quick stroll around town (it was raining a little bit) and then called it a night.
The following day, we woke to a big buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then returned to our room to pack up our things and prepare for the tour.
We had been told that we were to meet the rest of the tour participants at 5 PM that day, so we had plenty of time to kill, so we walked around Passau for several hours before making our way back to the hotel where we were told that instead of boarding the ship in Passau as was originally the plan, we were going to be bussed from Passau to Linz where the ship was now waiting for us. Apparently, the recent rains had caused the river to swell and the ship wasn’t able to get as far upstream as it would have liked. So we had to go and meet the ship in Linz.
We were loaded onto a nice, big bus and then driven just a short ways down the river. At the boat we were greeted by the boat’s musician (who was playing an accordion) and one of the young crew members dressed as Mozart. Mozart was handing out chocolates to each of the guests as he or she stepped on board the ship.
After getting the key to our rooms and checking out our new accommodations, we were treated to dinner. We were given table assignments and asked to sit with a group of people who spoke our same language. (The table assignments also make it easier for the staff to figure out who ordered which meals, and also allows you to get to know the people at your table better.)
After our delicious welcome dinner, a meeting was held in the ship’s panorama salon, where we were welcomed on board the boat and told what exactly what would be happening throughout the boat and bicycle tour. After the meeting with our Cruise Director, Leslie, we retired to our cabins and woke the following morning for our first full day on board the MS My Story (that was the name of our ship).
Day 2: Bike ride from Engelhartszell to Aschach along the Danube River
Our morning began by being treated to a buffet-style breakfast with fruits, bread, yogurt, granola, sliced deli meats, eggs, juice and more. We’d have this same breakfast buffet on each morning of the tour… and it was my favorite meal of the day. There was so much food, you could take whatever you liked, and I absolutely loved it!
Then, after breakfast, we simply walked off the boat and found our bicycles, which had been parked outside for us. After finding the bike that had been assigned to us for the tour, and after adjusting the bike seats and loading up the waterproof panniers that had been provided for us, we headed out.
The journey began with a short ferry boat ride (2 Euros) to the other side of the river, and then a pleasant 10+ kilometer ride down the bank of the Danube river, passing small farms and villages along the way.
At the famous 180 degree loop another short ferry boat ride (1.5 Euros) takes you back across the river, where you can then view the famous loop (if you choose) by climbing a short, but very steep forest trail to a lookout point where the entire river can be viewed.
It was a steep uphill climb, but I made the effort to climb up the hill and see the famous loop for myself.
The bike ride on our first full day of the tour took us through a largely shaded section of the river and passes through a couple small villages before finishing in the town of Aschach, where the boat was now waiting for us.
After reaching the boat, we loaded the bicycles back on board and then returned to our cabins for a shower, nap or whatever else we wanted to do.
Dinner was then served in the ship’s restaurant in the evening. Dinners each night consisted of three main courses and drinks (that cost extra – even water).
After dinner, a meeting was held (first in German and then in English) to explain the cycling route that we would cycling the next day… and the various extra excursions that could be purchased for your time in Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna were then pitched.
Day 3: Biking from Devin to Bratislava
Our day began with another lovely buffet-style breakfast at our assigned tables. At this point in the tour we were really starting to get to know some of the people we had been assigned to sit with, which was great!
Then we were let off the ship and were given the task of searching, yet again, for our assigned bicycles. Once we find our bikes, we cycled past the Devon castle (which is in Slovakia) and then cycled back across the Slovakia/Austria border and returned to Austria for most of the day. The bike route wound its way through the countryside and took us past a couple small (but not so impressive) castles and properties, before finishing in the city of Bratislava, Slovakia. An additional 8-kilometer optional route along the river allows you to see a bit more of the city on your bike before returning to the boat.
Here are some photos from our bike ride through Slovakia and Austria on the second full day of the bike tour.
In Bratislava, Kasia and I spotted this old building which had an entire wall that had been painted. We stopped for several minutes and snapped some photos.
Then, after we’d had enough of the bicycles, we returned to the My Story, which was now waiting for us in Bratislava.
After showering, cake and coffee/tea was served around 4 PM… and then we had time to explore Bratislava on our own or through the optional walking tour of the city. I had already been to Bratislava before, so I decided to explore the city on my own.
Then, after walking around Bratislava, I returned to the ship just in time for dinner at 7:30 PM.
After dinner, I hung out with the other guests in the ship’s panorama salon and enjoyed myself while listening to live music that had been made available as the boat slowly traveled down the river, passing Bratislava’s nighttime lights, to Hungary and the city of Budapest.
Below is a photo of the hallway where all the sleeping cabins are found on the ship’s main deck… and underneath that is a picture of the cabin that Kasia and I shared while we were on board the ship. Small, but comfortable. Only when I snored at night did Kasia complain.
Day 4: Budapest, Hungary
On day four of the boat and bike tour down the Danube river, we started our day with another wonderful buffet breakfast and then those who chose to participate in the bike tour around the city were let off the boat first. The group of cyclists exploring the city was split into three smaller groups – one English group and two German groups. The rest of the people either stayed on the boat or were free to go and explore the city on their own.
Kasia and I chose to explore the city on our own. We started by first exploring the “Buda” side of the city first.
After some shopping… and lots of strolling, we returned to the ship around 12:30 PM for lunch. After lunch, Kasia and I walked to the island/park on the northern side of the city where we people-watched for a while. Then Kasia returned to the boat while I spent the next couple hours exploring the more modern “Pest” side of the city before returning to the boat in time for dinner.
After dinner, those who signed up for the traditional dinner/dancing event were loaded into buses and driven to their event, where they were served large amounts of alcohol and given a lively, dramatic show. The goulash soup they were served was especially good. After dinner they were driven to a viewing point high above the city where the lights below made the city look more like Disneyland than that of a modern city that once sat behind the Iron Curtain. They returned to the boat around 11:30 PM.
I, on the other hand, spent my time after dinner doing one last walk around the city at night. I walked up to the castle on the hill and sat on a park bench as the sun set in the distance. Then I took pictures of the Parliament building and other historic landmarks in the dark before returning to the boat to work on my computer.
Here I am, sitting in the ship’s panorama salon, working on my laptop computer, with the Danube river and the Budapest Parliament building lit up behind me. It was a great way to end a wonderful day!
Day 5: Cycling through the Hungarian countryside (Visegrad to Esztergom)
Another delicious buffet breakfast and then we were set loose on our bicycles with the choice of two different routes: A short route (25 km / 15 miles) or a longer route (59 km / 36 miles). Those taking the longer route would cycle through farmland, shaded trees, across a large river island, and would be required to take three short ferry boat rides across various stretches of the river (costing 9 extra Euros in total). This was my favorite bike ride of the tour, with a good mix of countryside, river and small villages along the way. It was a great way to experience the Hungarian country outside of the large city of Budapest.
After returning to the boat, cake and coffee/tea was served at 4 PM and then a pirate-themed dinner was served at 7:30 PM. The staff was dressed in pirate costumes; the plates, silverware and napkins on our tables were a mess; and there was pirate-themed music playing. There were short staged sword fights between various restaurant staff and the cruise director, Leslie, who joined in on the action by taking one of the young maidens (a young waitress) over his shoulder and carrying her away.
After dinner, guests were free to return to their rooms for the night, or to linger in the salon where games were being played, music was performed, and socializing took place. Kasia and I played a game of IOTA in the salon before calling it a night.
Day 6: Rest Day in Vienna, Austria
On the 6th day of the Danube Waltz boat and bike tour, we began out day with another buffet breakfast and were then free to explore the city of Vienna – either on our own or through a guided bicycle tour. Again, Kasia and I decided to see Vienna on our own, but many of the people on the tour chose to participate in the bike tour, which lasted approximately three hours.
Kasia and I took a street car into the center of Vienna and then walked around the Ring Road area on foot.
I spent a month living in Vienna in 2009, so I was pretty familiar with the city, but this was Kasia’s first time in the city, so I enjoyed showing her some of my favorite sights.
I lived in the Prater region of Vienna in 2009, and this was the same part of town that Kasia had arranged to meet one of her friends she had met during her travels in South America, so we walked together through the Prater and I showed Kasia my favorite street art locations.
Then, around 4 PM, Kasia met up with her friend and we went our separate ways. I spent the next couple hours walking around the city and taking photos. I returned to the apartment I had rented in 2009 (just to see what it looked like today), and then I returned to the ship around 8 PM. I had missed dinner, so I purchased some food at a local supermarket and then ate it by myself in our cabin on the ship’s main deck. Sometime after 11 PM, Kasia returned to the ship and a few moments later we left Vienna.
Day 7: Cycling from Wachau to Melk, Austria
During our last day of cycling, we began with another awesome buffet breakfast and then exited the ship. We found our bicycles and then took off along the pre-designed path that had been laid out so wonderfully for us by Rad & Reisen.
Below are Bob and Sue, the American couple we were seated with at our table in the restaurant. Kasia and I spent a great deal of our time talking with Bob and Sue and we both really enjoyed their company.
Our last day of cycling (this time in Austria) was really quite spectacular. We slowly wound our way through several small towns and villages – never rushing to reach our destination.
Sometime around lunchtime, Kasia and I climbed up to the top of the Durnstein Ruine, which took our breath away, but was certainly worth the effort. The views from the top were absolutely wonderful!
Back on our bikes, we slowly made our way through several small towns, while stopping occasionally to eat ice cream, take photos and socialize with the other cyclists on the route.
In the city of Melk, we crossed over a large bridge with wonderful views of the river, did a short bike ride around the city, and then returned to the ship. The cycling portion of our boat and bike tour down the Danube river had come to its eventual conclusion.
Back on board the ship, Leslie (the company’s Cruise Director) held a special meeting to introduce us all to the various people working on board the ship. A big group bike tour such as this does not happen without the assistance of many, many people, so we were introduced to the captain, the boat staff, the hotel staff, the cleaners, the restaurant staff, the servers, and everyone else on board the ship that helped to make the bike tour possible for us all.
Afterward, dinner was served in the restaurant. I particularly enjoyed my couscous stuffed zucchini.
Day 8: Finishing the Bike Tour in Passau, Germany
On the last day of the Danube Waltz boat and bike tour, we woke in time for one final buffet breakfast in the restaurant. Afterward, we hung out in the salon or up on the ship’s sun-deck, while our cabins were being cleaned and preparations were being made for us to disembark. Before we knew it, we were back in Passau and were told that the tour had come to an end.
I can’t speak for the others on board the ship, but I didn’t want to leave. I had such a wonderful experience. I really liked the people I had met on the tour and had fallen in love with many of the ship’s staff members. The 8-day tour had really only lasted a week, but it had felt like so much longer than that (in the very best of ways).
Kasia and I said goodbye to Bob and Sue and the other friends we had made on board the MS My Story, and when it was time, we all went our separate ways.
Kasia and I returned to Passau and then took a train together back into downtown Munich. Once in Munich, Kasia met back up with her cousin, who lives in the city, and then I was on my own. I killed a couple hours in the Munich train station and the returned to the Munich airport in time for my light back to Poznan, Poland.
The Danube Waltz boat and bike tour with Rad & Reisen was a wonderful bicycle touring experience. While Kasia and I were easily the youngest two tour participants on the ship, we had a wonderful experience, made a lot of good friends, and would both certainly do the tour again if the opportunity were to present itself.
Highly recommended! Read my full review of this bicycle tour right here.