I had a trip back to Martha’s to collect my mislaid keys and shampoo from underneath the mailbox (as she’d already left for Uni by the time I got there). From there, an interesting trek across Vienna looking for the Eurovelo trail again (parts I’d not seen before). I actually saw a bunch of young people painting graffiti – must have been 20 of them – and, since it obviously wasn’t a clandestine activity at all, I presume the Viennese authorities hold an enlightened attitude to such artistic endeavours.
Not long after the beginning of the Eurovelo 9 stage 4, my favourite event of the day took place. I was cycling past Karlsplatz (I think!) when I spotted an artist putting watercolour washes over intricate ink drawings of local monuments. I stopped to have a look, as I always like to look at people’s works of art. He said “Aquarelle” to me, as I was looking, and I replied “Yes, watercolour, I know because I like to use it myself” and then got into a conversation about daily drawings. He was interested enough to have a look, so I showed him, and he particularly liked the painting of a Berber woman pouring tea. He was disappointed I didn’t have it with me, but offered a swop – one of his for a portrait of HIM! I was taken aback – not being accustomed to painting in public (harder to get in the ‘zone’ if one is self conscious) but, hey, why not? So I sat down and painted him – he made some effort to keep still whilst puffing on his e-cigarette. He was Chinese (I think) and a couple year’s younger than me. He had one daughter who had one son, so he was a grandfather. When I was done with my painting he guffawed with laughter – I’ve not seen many people truly ‘guffaw’, but he certainly did. He said my painting was too beautiful to be him – I’d left out wrinkles, but he was laughing because it was the spitting image of his father.
I got a small ‘pen and wash’ of the monument we were sat outside and we were both happy. He said his daughter would help him keep in touch with me and insisted on taking a selfie of us both and then we shook hands rather formally. Happy days!
I moved on, but got a bit frustrated as there was a missing sign around Gunderstrasse and I went up and down it about 5 times. In the end I just headed south until I met up with the cycle track again. I like following the Eurovelo 9 trail, when the signs aren’t missing, as it keeps to cycle paths and parks as much as possible, which makes for pleasant riding.
Supper was amusing – I stopped at a wooden shack which had a huge crowd eating outside – figuring it must be good to attract such a large following. It served open sandwiches and seemed to specialise in traditional Austrian foods. I ordered a portion of Blutwurst (which I knew was a sausage, but realised, too late, that it probably translated as ‘blood’-wurst!), kren, senf mit brod. This will teach me to order something when I’ve no idea what it means: I was a bit taken aback to get a HUGE phallic looking black sausage, with raw, grated horseradish so hot that it cleared my sinuses with fire, and French mustard which actually managed to cool things down! I was impressed that I managed to eat half this feast with the accompanying brown bread. I stopped at a roadside fruit stall up the road and bought myself a punnet of strawberries to make up for the experience.
It was getting late by then, and I needed somewhere to stay. These were scattered towns with the industrial suburbs of Vienna evident, so I didn’t hold out much hope of stealth camping. A hotel looked possible, but I’d missed the check in time and reception was closed so I continued on my way.
I was cycling along a canal built less for travel, than for electricity – it was lined with turbines – some working, some disused. Not far from Traiskirchen, I spotted an overgrown grassy lane leading to a field (bit like the one at the bottom of Bev’s garden down Wreyland Path). I decided this was the perfect place to camp, so long as I packed up early to avoid dog walkers. I was asleep by 10.30pmish.