This Friday, which is the last day of September, the Hotel Alpenland at St. Johann i.P. serves a really delicious breakfast. I wonder why cheese and meat always taste so delicious when we are vacationing in Austria, Italy or Switzerland.

Is it the vagabond life? Or are victuals in those countries really better than at home? Perhaps because we economize ourselves to death in Germany?

Just like we Germans are so particularly industrious that the rest of Europe can not keep up with us?

Well, back to my vacation diary:

Shortly after 9 a.m., we pedal up the road from St. Johann i. P. to the  “Tauernschleuse”. The golden (still) September sun has been accompanying us since sunrise. No fog, no haze.

And the way up is quite strenuous. First, shortly after Schwarzach, we reach an equalizing reservoir. It is very impressive. The Austrians generate most of their electricity through water power. Consequently, we see plenty of hydro-electric power stations on our bike tour.

After the reservoir, the way is down the hill all the time. And after each “up and down”, we are again a little higher.

That takes energy. We are so intent on looking at the beautiful scenery that we hardly notice it. Our altimeter clmbs quite a bit.

Near the crossroads to Villach/Slowenia, the road again merges with the main street. We have to follow it and pass through three tunnels. The first one is short and has a separate path for cyclists and pedestrians. Though it is not particularly nice, at least it is over quickly.

In the second tunnel, the cyclists/pedestrians path is also separated from the cars by a balustrade. This tunnes is more than one kilometre long, always a little up. Since the tunnel is well vented, the air pollution caused by the cars is halfway tolerable.
But the noise the cars and trucks make is really terrible. They probably go at a speed of 100 km/h, but every one of them seems to drone at an incredible volume, directly into our ears. I have to suffer it for some minutes – until I am through the tunnel. Atrocious.

Again, I feel I was absolutely right when I decided I was never again going to go anywhere by car. Some way or other, it is just bad manners to generate this kind of noise. You should only do it in case of emergency.

The third tunnel is a nice surprise. It has been newly built and the bikers got a separate tunnel running through the rock parallel to the main tunnel. It is truly delightful to race through this tunnel. In my opinion, this is trend-setting.

We are glad to have the tunnels behind us. The cyclist’s path, however, gets steeper. It runs through small villages, mostly not along the street. We take a small break at Dorfgastein, before we pass Bad Hofgastein and Bad Gastein.

We are quite impressed by Bad Gastein, situated shortly before the Tauern-Schleuse with its waterfall right through the middle of the town. It is weird to see all those hotels built like paws climbing up the steep rocks. And the water flows through the middle of it all! It is such an incline, our only way up is to push the bikes.

Shortly before the Tauern-Schleuse, we take a little break. It is already a little after 2 p.m. We have enough time: the trains leave every hour and the next one we can catch will be at 3.20 p.m.

We eat pumpkin soup and drink a glass of beer. Both taste very nice and have a refreshing effect on us. That is especially true because we were able to enjoy the hot soup and the cold beer under the sun.
Then we continue on our way. It is just a few more kilometres to the terminal.

On arrival at the top, our altimeter shows 1,200 metres of altitude. From Böckstein on, everything looks really dark, because the terminal is situated in the shadow of the Tauern – which separates north from south in this area.

We are waiting for the “Tauern-Car-Shuttle”. It is a regular service between Böckstein on this side and Mallnitz on the other side. We are surprised to see so few cars. The “rolling road“ arriving alongside is also almost empty.

We are on time as we depart for the tunnel. The empty train takes about 10 minutes to pass the pipe. On the southern side, the sun shines bright and clear. It is even warmer than on the northern side. A wonderful decline awaits us – more than 10 kilometers down, always at a speed of more than 50 km/h. This is the perfect downward angle. You have to neither pedal nore break. I call it pure delight.

After the fast decline, we have a few kilometers of flat road. Since we, again, came quite a way, we now decide to call it a day. We stay at the restaurant “Zum Richter“ at Mühldorf. Tonight, they will serve venison.…

IIndeed, it turned into a nice evening with a dream of a deer steak and goulash. A wonderful dessert and a perfect night.

On Saturday morning, it has finally arrived: the golden October. Quite early in the day, the warm sun welcomes us south of the Alps. It invites us to continue on our trip.

On we go to Villach. Our guide says we have 56 kilometres to go, always down the hill.

Well, it turned out not really always down the hill and those 56 kilometres looked more like 60 kilometers in the end. But the roads were really ncie, especially the long stretch along the Drau. Always plane or a little down.

Since we had started rather early today (8:15 a.m.), we arrived at Villach pedestrian’s zone around 12.30 p.m.

Again, we were quite hungry. Well, this is something easily remedied by delicious meals. We ate mushrooms in Ravioli and – typically Austrian – another one of the tasty “Wiener Schnitzel”.

From Villach, we rode another approximately 35 kilometres to the final destination of the day. Those kilometres, however, were uphill all the time until we reached Tarvisio. It was certainly a whole lot more strenuous than the fast way down to Villach.

This Saturday’s roads were the most beautiful so far. Now we ride along a wonderful path along the river Gail.

Afterwards, only a minor part of the way is alongside the general tarffic. Mostly, we enjoy well maintained cyclist’s paths and some scenery to constantly delight in.

The part of the way between the Austrian border and the border triangle Italy-Austria-Slowenia up to Tarvisio is particularly picturesque. We are overwhelmed. This is a “must” for all cyclists!

On arrival in Tarvisio, the procedure was the same as every time: looking for a hotel. This time, we only had to ask once. The Aubergio Haberl had a vacancy for us. The tachometer of the day says 97 kilometers, which means a total of about 360 kilometers on the entire tour so far by bike.

Since we are now in Italy, we have Pasti and Pizza with salad and red wine for dinner. We did not regret it and can certainly recommend the Hotel Haberl of Taversio. And we look forward to tomorrow – the first Sunday of October.

(Translated by EG)

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