Friday morning we left Prague under cloudy skies and the ever-present threat of rain. Given the almost complete failure of my rain gear, John and I decided to find a motorbike retailer and do some shopping for new gear. Location determined, we headed off to find only a few items for sale. Evidently, motorbiking is not as big in the Czech Republic as it is in Germany. Empty handed, we set off for our final destination for the evening, Styer, Austria. Leaving the farmlands of the Czech Republic, we rode into the foothills of the Austrian Alps. The threat of rain never materialized and we found ourselves happily touring along winding roads through wooded hills and green pasturelands.
The pasturelands are the most vibrant shade of green found in a paint colour deck: so green that it almost looks fake.
Steyr is famous for its historic town centre built around the “Stadtplatz” (town square), which has been well preserved for several hundred years and restored following World War II. Its best-known piece of architecture is the Bummerlhaus which is considered one of the finest pieces of Gothic architecture for its size in Central Europe. Hitler, who lived in a room at the Grünmarkt, went to high school in Steyr in 1904. Because it was such a major producer of arms and military vehicles during the World War II, Steyr became a target of numerous Allied bombing raids. Whilst much of the town was badly damaged, the factories continued to function until near the end of the war. A dark point in Steyr’s history was construction of a Nazi concentration camp as a part of the Mauthausen network. Following the war, Steyr was occupied by the U.S. Army with the Soviet Army moving east behind the demarcation line of the province of Lower Austria. The troops remained until 1955 when Austria officially declared neutrality.
This morning we left Styer under partly cloudy skies with the promise of no rain. The route took us through increasingly mountainous roads with sweeping views of the valleys below and century old hillside villages. The intended route included a mountain pass, our first of the tour. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the base of the pass we were informed that the road was closed for a car rally. Using my best German, I informed the police officer guarding the barricade of our intended route and asked for advise on how to navigate around the closure. I actually used my best German to inform him that I did not speak German and asked if he spoke English. Fortunately, he did. He gave us a new route, only half of which I understood, and we were off. Our disappointment of missing the mountain pass was more than made up for by the beautiful sweeping roads and glorious vistas we encountered on our new route. Final destination was Villach, Austria. We arrived late due to stopping too often to take photographs and have cappuccinos at roadside cafés overlooking the mountains.