Bordering on UtopiaThis unassuming path along the Danube River runs from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria and beyond. For cyclists both avid and occasional it is a 300-kilometer exercise in pure two-wheeled pleasure. For those traveling this way it is a close-up view of the political beauty of Europe.
That oval sign behind our tandem bicycle is a simple pronouncement of one's entry into Germany. That green railing is keeping our tandem from falling over into the narrow, non-descript Dantlbach River which, without the signs, could hardly be taken seriously as an international border.
|Crossing Borders: The Gentility of Traveling in Europe|
Yet an international border is exactly what we are looking at. Turning from our view of Germany we see the Donauradweg rolling off into Austria, following the flow of the Danube, heading for Vienna.
No gates, no guards. No passport control. Not even a guy hawking postcards, or cold Apfelschorle. Just a modest, paved invitation to keep right on pedaling.
Do notice, however, that this is not the international free-for-alles it may seem. Taking a close look at the dirty and boring white-ish sign under the proud (if not aging) Austrian flag emblem-emblazoned posting that this is the border übergang, we see a subtle but stern-ish announcement.
Nur wanderverkehr für nicht sichtvermerkspflichtige Personen
"Just wandering traffic for non-visa-requiring persons."
Below that they really hammer the point home:
übertrittszeit 6 - 22
Crossing time 6 am - 10 pm
Luckily we'd gotten a late start.