Monday, May 24, 2010

Grape Grazing in the Austrian Countryside

Today a bunch of us went on a grape gazing wine bike tour in the country. Besides my lingering migraine I really had a great time. The weather was perfect (mid-70's) and sunny. A group of about 10 Aussie girls from the busabout trip and I (the lone American) bonded and hung out which was nice for me since I haven't really spent too much time with other girls on this trip. We started at the hostel in Vienna and Adam, our tour guide, took us on the train to the Wachau region in Austria. My head was pounding and the 50 minute train ride there made me feel a bit sick but as soon as we were out and about I felt so much better.

We went into Comrades a local family winery and tasted 3 types of white wines.


This region was well known for it's dry white wines like Reislings and Grüner Veltliners. Normally I really don't like white wine but I will admit it seemed to taste better than any white I've had. I'm sure the scenery helped a bit but I wouldn't have minded buying a bottle for later if I knew I didn't have to carry it around on my back.


Next we left and went to go pick up our bikes down the road. It felt so good to be out of the city and in the middle of the country. I think a few of us remarked at just how quiet it was.



It was nice to see mountains again too! In the distance we could see the Dürnstein ruins which was the main seat of the Kueringer family in the 12th century. It stands high on the rocks above the Danube. Richard the Lionhearted was held imprisoned in this castle as well. Later we were told we would have the chance to climb up to the top and while it was a brutal hike it would be well worth it for the views.


We biked along for about 10 miles or so on really nice bike paths alongside the Danube. Everyone was out riding today because the weather was so lovely. By then it was about 2pm or so and we were all thinking of the promised BBQ for lunch. It was 7 euros and a ton of food! I didn't take any pictures of the actual food because I think I was too hungry by then but we had pork sausages, sausage with cheese in it and wrapped in bacon - it was amazing, steaks, beet salad (!!), salad, potato salad, corn, bread, and cake. I couldn't eat the steak and loaded up on the beets but bacon wrapped cheese sausage is the bomb. Oh yeah, and we had some wine too.

(For some reason if you're viewing this on my blog page it cut the picture off usually with me on the side - click on them for larger!)


The view was gorgeous.


After we had our fill of food we got back on the bikes and headed back to the first town with the ruins. In the town of Dürnstein there were shops with handmade jams, schnapps, and chocolates that we could all sample. I armed myself with some water got myself ready for the 20 minute hike up to the ruins.


Adam was right it was pretty hardcore but it was pretty perfect for working off what I ate for lunch. From the top there were some amazing views of the scenery, the town and the Danube.




My hair is a wreck here and I'm sweaty and gross but hey look, I had friends to take my pictures, haha.


Here are a few pictures of the ruins



Before we headed back down we took one last break sitting on the edge just checking out the town. The church was painted in pretty blues and golds.


The walk down was easy and I ended up buying some jam, a chocolate bar, some peppermint oil for my temples and some handmade hair repair cream that I can't wait to use after I write this blog. My hair has been pretty fried from drying it using a straight iron or blow dryer if one is available on this trip. When I get back I need to get it trimmed.

On the train ride back Adam brought probably 6 or 7 bottles of wine in his bag. At this point my head was hurting too much to drink anymore but everyone seemed to have a good time and the pours were much more generous than before. I left to go back to rest a bit so I feel better before exploring Vienna tomorrow. I heard they are screening the opera in front of the opera house for free tomorrow afternoon so I plan to check that out. I'm really glad I went on this trip because it got me out of the city for the day and was pretty great exercise. I feel pretty good right now but no more bacon wrapped cheese sausage, bitte!

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