Would you like to know how to enjoy time with kids and how kids can enjoy time with their dad? All you need to do is to pack your bags and go on an adventure.
The heatwave was unbearable at home, yet the bikes were just waiting for us to get up and go. Also, dad needed to clear his head and children longed to explore other pastures. After several minutes of surfing the net, the decision was made to try out the Traisental cycle route which runs between the Mariazell pilgrimage site in the Türnitz Alps and the river Danube. I adapted the route to suit our oldest son, seven-year-old Jakub, for whom it was to be the first trip pedalling his own bike over several days. Our middle son, three-year-old Šimon, hitched o ride in a trailer. Overall, we were ready to do about 90 km, split into three stages.
Our mini-adventure begins. We are sitting on the amazing Mariazellerbahn train, which takes us on a narrow-gauge railway from St. Pölten to Mariazell, located in the Türnitz Alps.
The picturesque train station in Mariazell. We buy enough food and drink to last us for a while and a gingerbread heart for mum. Late in the afternoon, we set off on the first leg of our journey, about 30 km at an altitude of around 1000 m above sea level.
The Mariazell Pilgrimage Basilica
The first 10 km is behind us, the weather is cooling nicely. It seems that the idea to escape the red-hot lowlands and head for the mountains was perfect
The Hubertussee Lake – a magnificent corner of nature, hardly any people around. The crystal-clear water of the lake was beckoning us to have a dip but since the evening is nearly here and there still are 20 km to go, we stop for only a short while.
We are lost – we had a pick of the sign-posted cycle trail and one offered by Google Maps. As it happens, we must have taken a route somewhere in between those two. Now we had to ride up a steep gravel road. For Jakub, it was the hardest part of the whole journey, so as a reward, he got to have a ride in the trailer with his bike secured to its roof. Our prize for getting lost was being surrounded by incredibly verdant unspoilt nature, gurgling streams and not a single another soul in sight.
However, the ascent was so steep that we had to get off and push – several meters of pushing, 5 minutes rest and so on. Great fun for the boys 😊.
After some hard going, we managed to cross the ridge and then there was a long steep descent that ended in a ford. A challenge, but cheered on loudly by the boys from the trailer, we did it. For them it was such an experience that they talked about nothing else for the rest of the day
Our evening descent to a campsite in Kernhof. We did about 300m of sea level in 10 minutes.
A beautiful place for camping near the Kernhof village.
Our gear – a tent, sleeping bags and mats, about 10kg in all, clothes for the three of us, about 4kg, water and food about 3kg, the trailer about 12kg, kid’s bike about 8kg and the recumbent about 19kg.
The next day there was about 40 km of gradual descent ahead, leading to the next campsite in Traisen.
On our journey, we had the fortune to see some local festivals. In St.Aegyt, there was a funfair. The traditional lederhosen is the basic item of clothing for every man from the age of two to about one hundred.
When travelling with children, one needs to set aside sporting ambitions and make the most of what nature offers. A stream is always miles better than any playground. One doesn’t care that the water is freezing.
Making friends in a campsite – nobody cares if someone speaks German, somebody else Hungarian and another one Czech.
Such beauties can be seen in the pretty family campsite in Traisen.
Food always tastes so much better on the road than at home.
In the last few kilometres before St. Pölten, our destination, we went through an improvised campsite at a music festival that was just about ending. It took quite a while to explain to the boys that people really are capable of creating such an awful mess. Tonnes and tonnes of rubbish strewn around, hundreds of tents torn to shreds, a river full of empty beer cans. A poignant contrast with the magnificent Alps.
We have arrived. All we need to do now is to load up and after 3 hours be back in mummy’s arms.