Sunday, July 25th, 2021

Distance travelled – 315 km

As is usual, I woke up early, but Lucie was completely asleep. Rather than hang around in the apartment and risk disturbing people, I decided to go for a walk. Our friends live, more or less, at the bottom of the Roter Berg. This is a large area of green space and there was a way up the hill only a few hundred metres along their street. It was actually far from a gentle stroll. It was a bright morning and promised to be a hot day, but it had rained overnight. The grass was very slippery and it was quite muddy in places, but eventually I achieved the “summit”.

It was quite heavily wooded, but a few spaces in the trees offered fine views north and east over the still sleeping city. In the distance, on a hill, I could see a fine building with the rising sun glinting on its dome. This was the Church of St. Leopold, also known as the Kirche am Steinhof. Designed by Otter Wagner and finished in 1907, it is (apparently) the first church of the Modernism period in Europe and an architectural masterpiece. (That is the level of detail that you get when you ask someone from Vienna).

We had agreed to have a special breakfast with our friends and that is what we did. At around half past eight, we drove into the city, which was surprisingly quiet and deserted, We had nice, varied breakfast for 52 EUR for four people in The Cafe Dommayer (Dommayergasse 1, Auhofstraße 2, 1130 Wien) which is close to Am Platz, the entrance to the famous Schönbrunn Castle and gardens. We had previously visited the castle, so we did not need to go there, but we did take a brief stroll around the beautifully laid out botanical gardens.

This served both to work off a few of our breakfast calories and also pass the time until the Lindt chocolate store, situated at the western entrance to the gardens (Hietzinger Hauptstraße 1A, 1130 Wien), opened at (exactly) ten o’clock ! Both Lucie and I are very partial to Lindt’s “Lindor” sweets – and this shop had many kinds we had never seen before. We settled for a few of the Salted Caramel type.

It was lucky (?) that there was no space on the Harley where we could safely have transported more chocolate back to Prague in the growing heat.

Then it was time to set off for home.

We returned to our friend’s house, packed up the Harley and set off. We had just one more Hundertwasser site to visit on the way …..

By way of background, some years ago, during my previous life, I spent a period when I commuted between Prague and Vienna on an almost daily basis (the flight was cheaper than an hotel …). Twice a day, my taxi between the airport and the office would pass a somewhat ugly, industrial building with a tall chimney, situated in Spittelau, beside one of the small looping “arms” of the Danube river (the Austrians went to great pains to straighten and control the main channel of that mighty waterway at some point in the past). I was given to understand that this was a plant which incinerated waste and provided public heating. This was laudable, but it was ugly and somehow seemed out of place in the general elegance and grandeur of Vienna. Shortly before the end of my commuting stint, the chimney was being altered by the attachment of a large sphere near the top. When I say “sphere”, I am actually being inaccurate as, to my “Virgo” eyes, it was quite obviously NOT symmetrical. At the time I assumed it was probably some sort of air purification apparatus, but I stopped my commuting before any real progress was made.

What I did not know then, but I do know now, was that the work on the chimney was part of the process of the building receiving a Hundertwasser “makeover”. Whilst, in all fairness, it will never be a thing of true beauty, it is certainly spectacular and, were it not for a huge sign indicating its function (Fernwarme Wien (Remote Heating, Vienna)), it would probably be difficult to guess it. The site, which does not have a street address, is now one of Vienna’s “must sees”. We did manage to park briefly to take a few pictures, but it is situated in a mass of tiny streets and larger throughways so road access is difficult. There is a U-Bahn station nearby (U-Bahn Station Spittelau 1639/2, 1090 Wien) which might be better.

Job done, or as I put it to Lucie “Hundertwasser, Hundertwassered …” we did a quick, photographic, drive-by and set off for Prague.

As far as is possible, we try to avoid droning along motorways, so I chose a route that I knew would take us most of the way on lesser roads. We crossed the mighty Danube which, thanks to Austrian ingenuity and a lot of concrete, appeared to be firmly within its banks and took the A22 motorway on the eastern side. Ignoring various options being offered by the SatNav (I really MUST work out what the various route selection options all do ..), we continued on the A22 which soon lost its “A” status and became the S3 as far as Hollabrunn (which it now, newly, bypasses). Then we took the 303 as far as the border crossing at Kleinhaugsdorf/Chvalovice where it changed to its Czech designation of Route 38.

After crossing the border, we first passed through the area known, in Czech, as “Podyjí” (around the river Dyje). This is considered to be one of the most fertile areas for crop production in the State and is well known as a big area for wine production.

There are miles of vineyards on both sides of the border and we passed a long line of quaint little huts where wine is stored. The Dyje, which is rather confusingly called the Thaya (its Austrian name), on Google Maps ™, continues east and eventually joins the Morava which forms part of the border with Slovakia. We crossed the river and made our way up the hill and into Znojmo. At the top, a statue of a Tommy-gun wielding, Russian soldier greets you on a large roundabout.

In the town, we paused for a coffee and filled up with petrol for the final ride home.

We continued on the Route 38 which, despite it not being a motorway, now bears the somewhat grandiose title of E59 and headed cross country to Jihlava. It is a well surfaced road and, in my opinion, a great one for motorcycling.

It runs along a ridge-line and offers endless long views of the fields, trees and low hills on both sides. It is not thrillingly twisty, like the one in Austria the day before, but it does have a couple of quite evil bends which can (and sadly do) catch out the unwary. Fortunately, I am quite familiar with it and the Harley’s big engine enabled me to swiftly despatch the odd slower moving vehicle. We made crossing of just shy of a hundred kilometres to the town of Jihlava as I like to say “smoothly and with style” ….

From Jihlava it is an easy enough, although relatively boring, trip up the D1 motorway to Prague and we elected to take it. It was interesting that our SatNav (still in some special mode) told us, when we arrived at kilometre 129 of the highway, that the trip home would take three hours and tried to tempt us with a trip into the wide green yonder. We ignored the increasingly strident blandishments and kept to the motorway. At kilometre 110, it gave up, shut up and reduced the time prediction to under an hour and a half. Perhaps it was sulking ! As we began to near Prague, the sky grew very dark and threatening and it was obvious a thunderstorm was imminent. On the final approach, a few drops of heavy rain did splatter the screen, but it passed in an instant and my collection of insects was not threatened !

We made it home and I unpacked my jacket which I had not had to put on in five days and almost fifteen hundred kilometres of riding.

The sky was still very dark though and, by the time we got our stuff up the stairs to our flat, it was pouring with rain ! Thanks for that one, God ! Another trip tripped !