This year's World Rowing Championships were in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. The rowing course is a channel excavated next to the Danube River just outside of the Linz city center. We try and visit the rowing championships each year, and were able to spend a few days seeing many sites in Upper Austria.
An added bonus for this year's trip was that our friends Patrick and Miren also came to watch the rowing. We met them over 15 years ago while we lived in Bristol and have stayed in touch ever since.
We flew in and out of Munich and drove to the Linz area a couple hours away. Due to the short trip, we didn't venture very far from Linz. We had been to Vienna previously and Austria a couple times passing through on other trips. However, we never had the chance to explore this particular region.
All in all we're glad we went, and we hope you enjoy our photo journal from the trip.
Click Here for all of the high resolution photos from the trip.
On our first day in country we visited the industrial town of Steyr and then onto the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. The Steyr city center is very cute (as most are in Europe) and worth an hour or so stroll before grabbing a bite to eat. Just outside the city center the town becomes quite industrial with many well known companies calling the town home.
We spent a good while circumnavigating the old town. The two is laid out along the river and has very good, well-marked paths. This pedestrian bridge spanning the river was a highlight. The river was crystal clear and you could see a ton of rainbow trout swimming around.
After dinner we were afforded this tremendous view of the city as we walked back to the car...
Before Steyr we visited the town of Mauthausen and the WWII era concentration camp museum. The Mauthausen Concentration Camp was one of the deadliest of the camps in the Nazi network. The camp was setup to serve the nearby quarry and supply the Reich with stone for buildings and such.
Around the main gate are memorials from all of the countries that had citizens perish in the camp -- over 150,000 people perished in total.
This is a view from inside the camp of the main gate and a couple of the rebuilt/preserved barracks along the Appellplatz.
This is the Room of Names. Engraved on each table and again in large books the names of 82,000 names of those known to have perished at the camp. The room itself is in the basement of one of the main buildings next to the gas chambers and cremation ovens.
In the modern telling of the Holocaust there is a narrative that the German government was bad and the local population were ignorant or unaware of the scale of the human toll. The exhibits in the museum made it clear the local population was complicit in the genocide. Invoices from local suppliers, pictures of prisoners being marched through town, etc.
The little town of Ottensheim, just upriver from Linz, hosted the world champs. The town is pretty typical of a European bedroom community for a larger, next door city. Quaint little downtown, a couple bier gardens, pretty church, etc. We didn't spend much time there because there wasn't much to do outside of the rowing event. We did stop once after the rowing concluded to grab a beer with Patrick and Miren. Rowing is the biggest thing in the town, and whomever made the cool little sign didn't even know the difference between rowing and paddling. Oh well.
Another evening after watching rowing all day we went to another cute town Aschach an der Donau for dinner and dessert.
Pizza. Linzer Torte. Watching the river traffic.
Sunday afternoon we went to Linz after the rowing concluded. Linz appeared to be a larger version of Steyr. Lots of old, cute buildings in the city center. Then a bit outside of the city center it gets pretty industrial quickly. The city was previously awarded the European Capital of Culture moniker, and there are now many art museums and art installations that make the city famous in art circles.
We mostly just strolled around the city, climbed a massive hill in a park and generally enjoyed an afternoon just hanging out.
On one of the main roads into town there was this mural on a house. There's a quote attributed to Kurt Cobain, but it's obviously David Spade, right?
On our last day we spent touring the Wachau valley region. It is a very beautiful, and historically affluent, region of the Danube between Linz and Vienna. The valley is dotted with amazing architecture, towns and history. The region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first stop of the morning was Schallaburg castle.
Schallaburg is a pretty castle that's mostly a museum nowadays.
Our next stop was the thousand year old abbey in Melk.
Entry to the Melk Abbey grounds is free, but if you want to see any of the cool stuff, like the good views or inside the basilica you need to pay for a tour. Then once on the tour, pictures inside any of the buildings is prohibited. So I took a picture of the nave from a high resolution picture on the wall of the gift shop!
Panorama photo of Melk from the rear of the abbey basilica promenade.
After stopping for lunch in the town of Weissenkirchen in der Wachau, we headed to our final Wachau Valley stop in the city of Krems. We didn't spend too much time in the town, but visited a couple of the churches and walked up and down the pedestrian area.
In the left photo on top of the hill is the Piaristenkirche and the Dom der Wachau is on the right at the bottom of the hill. It was difficult to get pictures because the streets were narrow. So took a picture of the model for the Dom der Wachau (right photo)...
View of Krems and the Dom from the courtyard overlook of the Piaristenkirche.
The Steiner Tor. A stone gate erected in the late 15th century now marketing the entrance to the old town pedestrian area.
Our short drive through the Wachau valley was our last day in Austria. On the way back to Munich for our flight home we took a back way along the Danuabe to the town of Engelszell. There's not much special about the town except for the abbey there. The abbey is one of the few Trappist abbeys outside of Belgium that brew beer! We were scrambling to make it before the gift shop closed at 5pm and just made it.
We were successful in securing some beer for our friend Dan. It started to rain heavily so we found cover in a nearby shelter and had an impromptu beer and cheese snack. A perfect ending to a whirlwind trip to Austria!
In the middle of the trip we did watch some rowing. I put this section at the end of the trip report, because most people probably don't care that we watched rowing. But for us it's a pretty cool experience watching our athletes perform at the highest level.
The weather was hot and sunny for the two days we were at the rowing venue. The rowing course was a man made channel dugout of the banks parallel to the Danuabe River in the Ottensheim surburb of Linz. I didn't bring my huge camera on the trip so only took photos with my iPhone. Nowadays, web sites like row2k and World Rowing do a much better job with the rowing photography for me to bother with my camera equipment anymore. Therefore, most of my photos are just of the venue itself.
Picture of the boatyard. I will say this was one of our least favorite venues. It was tight, heavily exposed to the sun and expensive. FISA's main focus is to the athletes and rowing federations. Most people are crazy like us and watch the events in person. Therefore, all of the good seats and venue access is now (more and more) being reserved for people that don't really pay, which blows my mind.
Picture of the last 250m from our seats in the grandstand. The covered area in left of the photo was reserved for rowing federation VIPs.
© 2019 Doug Rathburn