Walking Donaustadtbrüke to Schönau an der Donau. 30 kms.
I took the U2 metro line to Donaustadtbrüke which means the bridge over the river Donau (Danube), from the town side to the island.
I had the pleasure of some unexpected company in the form of 3 pals from the European Shiatsu Congress I had lately attended. They even carried my heavy rucksack for me in relays for the first hour and a half. That’s what friends are for! We sung Lets Go Fly a Kite from the film Mary Poppins and we fair swung along together.
It was great to be out of the city after a hectic and action packed week. It is a wide waterway with extensive tributaries making for divers intermediary land masses with little to distinguish them except that they are basically green and not built-up.
Having left nearly 2 hours later than planned, we crossed to the southern bank earlier than the map showed. There were toilets there and what looked like a good place to eat and drink.
The sun was still shining with a strong wind when I struck out alone and having hugged my goodbyes.
What with new boots (which broke slightly when I put them on that morning) and it being my first long walk with a back pack since June, it took me a while to get into my stride. When I did, big deep sigh, I rediscovered the joy!
I was on green paths beside flowing blue waves, amidst wild flowers of purple, pink, blue, white and yellow with butterflies to match. They seemed to appear by magic from the ground they were camouflaged by as I trod on it.
I had to negotiate the oil refinery which smelled very unpleasant complete with loud machinery. Up until now I was on cycle paths with the bikes tinkling their bells or skimming past, but once clear of the industrial area, dragonflies played around me, walnut shells crackled underfoot (reminiscent of the Camino Francés), there were ducks, swans and swathes of happiness.
The path moves through a Natural Park and there are attractive wooden dwellings on stilt legs at regular intervals. Many of them have the same bucket fishing nets I saw along the coast of Brittany in France in May.
It was beautifully quiet and I caught myself exhaling again. A heron took off from the pool’s surface, dragging its webbed feet out of the water with sheer determination on the way to a better spot.
Having changed to sandals to give my new blister some air, I enjoyed the soft white sand between my toes.
There were 2 men on the opposite bank when I stopped for my picnic. Other than that I saw no walkers until I changed back into my boots several hours. I I was sitting by a pool on the bleached stones when a couple of experienced looking hikers came by and were able to point me in the right direction for what turned out to be the final half hour.
I thought I was three quarters of the way there and would have to just stop in order to avoid being on the path when it got dark, and so I stopped at the pleasant looking cafe to ask the way to the nearest town. Someone overheard me and said I could get a bus. I had 5 euros on me so had to forgo a cup of desperately needed tea when I spotted the sign Schönau an der Donau. Wow I had made it to the end of the walk without (a donkey) without even knowing it! I was elated and full of sun.
In fact I needed 2 buses which collectively came to more money than I had, but the second driver waved me on anyway. What a great sense of achievement I felt!
Schönau has pretty, pastel-coloured bungalows, a church and fire station amidst flat and fertile farm land full of serious farm machinery as it is harvest time. The post bus was full of giggly school girls and posturing boys tossing back their fringes and feigning disinterest.
It is a flat, easy walk. The map looks like an ancient one, but the walk is simpler to follow than you might expect. There are hardly any arrows or signs (just one or 2 red and white horizontally striped ones after you cross the river), but as long as you stay close to, and on the right side of the Donau (Danube) you can take the footpaths with confidence. Skirting around the oil refinery is the least enjoyable stage, however what follows is glorious.
Beware of Google maps! It does not cater for hikers, taking us on main roads and over busy junctions. It is great for getting your bearings, for orientating yourself when lost, but not for footpaths and tracks.
Both the map and Google need Internet. I have not yet found a suitable offline map but am working on it and will share when I find it.