Da Nub, mighty waterway of central Europe, you flow like a muddy streak of lightning. Swish swoosh off you go, carrying barges and floating hotels downstream, and making it hard for those same vessels to go upstream.
I got to hang out with my parents on your mighty banks, amidst hordes of tourist-types and the elderly(some of whom were tourist-types). Hot diggity the sun shone so sweetly, and soon enough I was mostly naked. Wearing some shorts, I cruised on a bike. But wait, there was a beginning to this cruising.
My parents decided to come visit me on this most european of continents. I picked them up in Frankfurt, and an ICE whisked us off to Passau, over on the border with Austria. Did you know that Passau used to be the boss of the salt trade? Makes sense, ’cause it sits at the confluence of Da Nub, the Inn, and the Ill(or something like that). So those mobster salt lords could send out their caravans and boats to any fancy kingdom in the neighborhood. Alas, that came to an end when some Divine Prince swindled the Salt Lords, and made them slough off chunks of their goods. What a punk.
So, we were in that hub, and from there we went east, towards Vienna. I snagged the role of trip leader, because of the lingo. I mean, I speak German, and austrian German is sorta like what I’m used to. All the vowel sounds are squished together, and they greet you by greeting god. That always rocked me back on my mental heels.
Leading away, we got our rental bikes, paniers(not the grilled italian sandwhich), and set off on Day One. We cheated a bit, and rode the first 17ish Kilometers on a fancy, crystal-studded boat…er, ship.
Such views, sights, vistas, and things to point at and holler “look!”. On one day we went up a Bußweg(penitence path), and climbed about 500 Meters up to an abbey. People put their holy buildings in really weird places, but I suppose there wasn’t room for an abbey/basilica/church down in the fertile and workable flats.
Another day saw us riding a ferry(one of many) to the other bank, but this ferry was not like the others. It was powered solely by the flow of the river, which, when the wheelman angled the boat out into the current, pushed us all the way across. There was a grunty steel cable connecting the bow and the line running shore-to-shore, and that kept us from just noodling off downstream.
Once we saw a ship pushing a barge pushing a barge. So much barge! It was just barging upstream, looking more like a plow than a ship. There were also horses in fields, butterflies in the air(some of which had a death wish and kamikazed into me), and we even glimpsed a rare specimen of Homo Sapiens Paraglidus. The dude landed right next to us in a pasture.
There were some tense moments, mainly during the hangry phase of each day. You know, when your fuel level is low, dehydration is taking its toll, and you’ve just ridden 15 Kilometers. Then, the catalyst! What and where should we eat. Boom! Stress! Anxiety! Venomous words only came out a few times. But, we got fuel on board, and everyone calmed down, even coming around to apologize. I was a grump at two big moments. Once, when we were at the end of a day and rolling into Linz, I snapped at my Dad that we should do the planny stuff further on, cause I needed to pee. Later, when looking for our hotel in Innsbruck, I dismissed my mother’s concerns about the right route, and also my dad’s concerns about me being a jerk. I was a jerk.
It was a righteous trip, with many hours on bikes, and many plates of tasty food. Oh, the food! Breakfast at the hotels was a fun time, because you could fill your plate, then your mouth, then your plate again, until you were sated. Tasty.
At the end of the Austria stuff, we went to Freiburg, and my parents got another impression of how I live here. Thanks to some smart words from someone close to me, I made it through a last day of trip leading, and we even met up with two of my friends. That was really cool, because they vibed well with my parents, and seeing them getting on well with my parents made me realize how cool my friends are. Excellent sauce.
Talk to you in the future,