The Vienna running club limbering up.
We had always planned Vienna as a substantial stop, as all embassies are here. Then, in (I think) Deggendorf, we had the most wonderful bit of luck. Clare had got chatting with Monika, a solo cycletourer going the other way, aiming to reach the North Cape over three months. We were able to pass on a few tips about Norway (such as waterproof socks, value of; old post road, steepness of), and helped load maps.me onto Monika’s tablet, as we’d found it great for finding campsites, while not online, which she’d found an issue. Then Monika offered to let us use her flat in Vienna. Wow. Thanks Monika. Much nicer than a pension, and helps a lot with the budget. And helpful neighbours Helga and Andi let us in and set us up.
So: Friday: Get up and work out what to do. Revive visa research memories, and reread recent email from helpful David at Stantours. Started revising schedule based on current performance. Decide first priority is to get Uzbekistan visa. Check process (big form) and embassy opening hours: drat, it shuts at 12, in 30 minutes, no chance. Next opening is Wednesday. We’d better be ready…
Thus, into Vienna for sightseeing, bike repairs, and a few bits.
Bike shop #1, looks promising and quite different from German bike shops. A row of sleek racers fills the front, then MTBs, then utilities. The shop looks like it’s been here for decades, resembles an old fashioned chemist, with cabinets of wooden drawers and a counter. Few parts or glitzy clothing visible, though a glass case holds Campag Record kit, like jewellery. An old gent with fine moustaches comes to the counter, then fetches & presents a drawer containing Shimano dynamo hubs, 36 hole, with alternative axles. Usable at a pinch, but basic models, draggy, heavy and needing different spokes in the spares kit. We demur, and he suggests a few 100m up the street.
Bike shop #2, we hit lucky. It’s a more modern shop, but again, ungermanish, these urban Austrians clearly skip the utility jobs in favour of drop bars and carbon everything (Well, the utilities still fill the streets, but it is a workday). And the staff are expert conversationalists in English. And, bingo!, some of the stock bikes bear SP hubs. So, a new one is ordered, it seems we can get this job done in under a week, even with a bank holiday.
Then onwards, to the bookshop (maps & phrasebooks), and a few clothing refinements. And gawping at the huge array of spectacular buildings of the imperial past. And avoiding being run over by tram or elegant horse-drawn fiacre.
Now, curiously, after all this frantic activity, we have an enforced long weekend of inactivity. Hmmm.
There are newspapers and some magazines for sale on street corners.