Vikki: We've had the last 3 nights in a camp ground just east of Linz in Austria. Called Au an der Danou and beside the Donau (Danube) River, its full of people (especially families) camping and biking. The area is kitted out for bikers, bike lanes alongside the river, many places to stop along the way and lots of easy bike trails. It's amazing to see families with young kids, all on their own bikes, pull up at the end of the day with small packs and tents on the back of their bikes, set up for the night and then head off for the next place first thing in the morning.
Our drive here was very scenic, as we headed through remote mountain villages with many small ski fields. The temperature has cooled considerably, about 26 degrees, so much more bearable during the day and cool through the night. For the first time since Paris I have had long sleeves on. We've not done a lot here, checked out an Electronic Museum, wandered around the city of Linz and today we visited what was the Mauthausen Concentration Camp (now the Mauthausen Memorial). I'm glad we did and that the kids saw it. While not a fun thing to experience, it's part of history and something that they need to know.
Raj: The drive up Austria reminded me of NZ and skiing - lots of rugged mountains and breathtaking scenery. I can appreciate it's a great country for skiing and as Vikki says, biking, at least where we are staying. The wooden "chalet" has been ok but I have struggled to sleep well without a pillow, only a sack stuffed with clothes. Call me soft (but I'm sure others were complaining silently - not Anouk though as she has her pillow pet)! On the up side we've been eating out every night as we have no cooking facilities - makes for a nice change, with great sampling of local food - schnitzel, sausage, breads and beers. Yum.
Today's visit to Mauthausen Memorial was not on my list of things to do but as a family I'm glad we went. It's not nice revisiting the atrocities of WWII but a timely reminder that as a human race how cruel we have been. A quick history lesson - about 6 million people died in the concentration camps, mainly Jews and Soviet prisoners. Half were exterminated (gassed, shot in the neck or hung), with others falling to starvation, disease and sickness. Hopefully the kids will be able to reflect on our visit in the years to come. I deliberately took no pictures inside the camp as it just didn't seem right. Instead I limited photos to the outside, mainly of the memorials erected by countries of the citizens imprisoned between 1938 and 1945 (when US solders liberated the prisoners).
Harley & Anouk: A few days ago we arrived in Austria. We are camping on a camp ground in a wooden tent. Inside all it has is a mattress divided into four beds. Yesterday we visited the Ars Electronic Museum. There were lots of fun activities to do. Harley's favourite was the password hacker. You had to put in a password and the computer would tell you how long it would take for a computer to hack it. I put in WOOFDOG45621 and it said it would take around 31 years. We also saw a 3D movie (in German) showing stuff about space.
Today we went biking and then we drove to one of the concentration camps from WW11. First we rented a bike each and went biking. We biked along the river and on some roads. We biked about 9km. While we were on the roads we saw lots of corn growing on the side. The hardest part of biking for Anouk was up some hills. Since we had gears we managed to just get up them except for one where Anouk stopped just before the top. When we got back we were tired and hot so we got an ice cream. Mum and dad shared a strawberry and vanilla ice cream, Harley got a tropical ice-block and Anouk a smarties pop up which came with smarties in a plastic tube.
At the concentration camp called Mauthausen Memorial, we saw the rooms that the prisoners would sleep in and while we were in there mum read that up to 2,000 people would stay in one room and the rooms were pretty small. We also saw a big stone roller that the prisoners had to roll on top of the stones to make them less bumpy. It would of been really hard to roll because it was so big and heavy. One thing that only Harley and dad did was walk along the "death stairs", where the prisoners had to walk down to the quarry and then they had to walk back up while carrying big heavy stones. They counted 187 steps.