There is an uncanny universality to hostels - certain characteristics that exist in every establishment in every country. The same “Funky” interiors with abstract-neon-candyland murals on the wall, perhaps upcycled lighting fixtures, a bar in the basement with graffiti-esque menus for Jaeger Bombs by the batch and beer by the bucket, the ubiquitous Australians exorcising a lifetime of shots and bad decisions in a few decadent months, and a lonely frenchman here or there. Even now, as I sit in the computer lounge staring at the laminated signs affixed to the frame of the computer screen explaining “how to print!” or “how to type an @ symbol on a German keyboard” (by the way it`s Alt GR + Q) I can´t help but think that somewhere there is a Hostel mothership sending out little hostel seed pods to enterprising and naive Europeans in cities across the continent. “C´mon, Mon Cheri, let´s start a hostel - it´ll be so exciting and fun!” I can hear them plead in an infinite chorus - with a harmony of “oh my god this was a terrible idea” fluttering a couple octaves above. Yes hostels are, if anything, predictable, but right now all I say is thank God. It’s clean, familiar and there’s a pool table.
We spent the past week riding along the Danube River passing the occasional Cathedral or Castle ruin, hopping ferries back and forth from the North Bank to the South when our path started to peter out. Although (Thanks again to Tony Baker) we knew that to continue our heroes quest we had to get out of Germany and into Austria we we´re sorry to part with the Deutschland because - and I mean this in the least critical way - there is something wrong with Austria. Not technically, or materially, but fundamentally and abstractly. We rode through countless little villages and a few sizable towns that had all the markings of life; well watered plants, tidy window boxes, dogs in the front yard, but we saw barely any inhabitants, few open stores and no one between the ages of thirteen and forty. It felt like riding through the set of a zombie movie but the zombie virus was mild and only affected the very young or middle aged and everyone else had decided to split for the coast. However the schnitzels were tasty and the beer was cheap and, well, that’s about it for Austria isn’t it. Oh, we once saw a guy wearing lederhosen - which was nice.
So finally after a week of riding we’ve reached our first city - Vienna. Originally named Ayr Hill, VIenna, VA is now home to the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Alex Albrecht (Digg.com’s popular host of the podcast Diggnation), and a very moving memorial commemorating the tragic death of Brigadier General Robert C. Schenk of the Confederate Army. Vienna, Austria is a lot like Vienna, VA but also different in a few ways. It’s in europe and it’s full of grand-old-imperial-looking-fancy-goldenish-stone-made-eagle-covered—don’t-have-this-in-America buildings, lot’s of them, everywhere. We’ve got a couple days off to explore the city, relax a little and see if we can find some fun - a nice break after cycling in the rain for seven days. On the docket is also a long list of errands to run including some spare bike parts I forgot and what seems like everything one might need when traveling, which Wiley forgot. Hope that you are all enjoying yourselves wherever you are… Much love from Vienna, the biggest little town in Virginia!