Candido to Heiligenblut (84 kms)
Another yoghurt and muesli breakfast, then it
was out of the hotel into a grey overcast morning, turn right onto a
cycle path which ran outside the front door, and basically, that was
it all the way to
Lienz. 43km's of traffic free (apart from
other cyclists), gradual downhill all the way. Absolutely
brilliant. I was surprised how many other cyclists there were
out on it for the time of year. The route itself is great,
following the path of the river through farmland and woodland.
What a fantastic facility.
Francesco's rack broke, but we managed to
secure it with a couple of quick release straps (thank you Alfredo
Binda!), and if anything it was more secure when we'd finished than it
had been before. Amazingly, the bottle of sparkling wine which
Francesco had been carrying from Mel (given to us by Sergio) survived
intact. We'd decided that this would be our reward for getting
over the GroβGlockner.
We had lunch in the centre of
Lienz, my first Bruschetta of the trip.
They had 2 types of Bruschetta on offer, and I couldn't decide which
to have - so had both. As we ate, the sky brightened up and the sun came
out. We left Lienz bound for
Heiligenblut on quite a busy
road. We were now off the Touring Club Italiano Trentino Alto
Adige map, and all we had was a far less detailed map of
Austria. So, none of us were expecting the long relentless climb
out of Lienz which finally peaked at Iselsberg-Stronach, from where we
plummeted down to Winklern and began the trek up the valley to
Heiligenblut. There was much less traffic now. We were now
in the Tauern National Park.
After a final steady climb, we rounded a bend
and facing us was the very pretty and much photographed
Heiligenblut. We carried on into the town, and immediately in front of
us was the Hotel Post. We were rather alarmed to see a large coach-load of Japanese tourists
filing in to the hotel, and we wondered how long it
would be before we got booked in. We needn't have worried, Heidi
was expecting us! Francesco had booked this hotel before we
left, and he had mentioned that she sounded very nice ;-) This was
their opening day of the season. Originally we were going to
stay at a hotel at
Kaiser Franz Josefs
Höhe (the glacier), but they
didn't open until June. Looking back on what we faced the next
day when we rode to the glacier, I'm glad they were closed - I'm not
sure we'd have made it from
San Candido in one day!
Had a sauna and swim in the pool, followed by
a great meal. The room was very nice, with a huge balcony, and,
if the cloud hadn't been so low, probably great views. Everyone
was very friendly, and we were all looking forward to tomorrow -
Großglockner - another defining moment of the trip for us.