15 August 2010

Austria: Wine Country Bike Tour

Our first full day in Austria wasn't spent in Vienna, but on an amazing bike tour through the Austrian wine country. Although Husby and I love to visit a cities, this was such a nice break from the hustle and bustle and busyness of a major city. Oh, and did I mention that we arrived in Europe with a heat wave? Yeah, so the temperatures hovered around 100 every day, and since Budapest and Vienna are both on the Danube River, the humidity was so nice! That's not normal for Europe, so they don't make a habit of air-conditioning their buildings. Even if they are, it's not the A/C we're used to in Texas.

After scurrying around Vienna--a city much larger and much more difficult to manage than Budapest, Hungary (our first city to visit)--we found our meeting place for the bike tour. I felt sure that we'd see bicycles lining a building, but we didn't. Instead, once our group of 30 was set, we hopped on a subway, then a train, and then a one-car train to a town about an hour outside of Vienna. Imagine the delight of everyone on the tour when the sky was overcast and the temperatures weren't where they had been the previous week.

Most of our fellow tour-mates were about our age; there were a few from the States and lots from Austrailia. Our first stop was at a winery in the town where the one-car train stopped. We learned that Austrian wines are consumed while they're very young, within a year of being bottled. (I think I learned more about wine tasting and wines in Austria than in Sonoma Valley on our honeymoon. Crazy, huh?!) After our first stop, we hopped on our bikes and started our journey through the wine country.

Husby and I both agree that this experience was one of the best things we've ever done! It was beautiful and so unlike anything in the States. At one point, we stopped on the side of the road and our tour guide pointed up to castle ruins. We learned that King Richard the Lionhearted was held captive in that exact spot. How cool! Later, we were able to hike up the mountain to the ruins. So, so amazing! (Just to be clear, we were just west of central Austria and not biking/hiking in the Alps. Those are in western Austria and Switzerland.)

Instead of lugging around the super-duper camera we borrowed from my mom (thanks, Mom!), we took our little point and shoot. Honestly, we were so in awe of being on this adventure, we didn't want to be stuck behind a camera lens. Although we took several pictures, there's no way that it captured the beauty of everything we saw. And I just realized that I forgot to snap pictures of us on our bikes and us swimming in the Danube. (And by "swimming", I mean: Husby was swimming; I slowly walked out, hoping not to step off one of the shelves into deep water and praying that nothing would touch me, and then dipped down to my shoulders and hauled it out of the murky water.)

Walking through the vineyards to a little barn that held our bikes.

This big buy seemed very interested in me and another girl. We were so excited that we'd charmed him. Then we turned to see the farmer behind us with chicken feed.

One of the wineries. There is a tunnel underground so that they can transport their wine to the bottling center across the street. Notice the vineyards on the terraces above the building.

One of the MANY 'Thelma & Louise' shots from the trip. At this point, I'm praying that I don't fall off my bike. Ha!

On the left, the Danube River. It isn't blue in either Budapest or Vienna. Strauss definitely used his poetic license for that title!

A blue cathedral. It caused quite an upset in its day, since that color is reserved for Mary. People liked it so much and started giving money to the church, and then the church leadership was suddenly okay with it being blue. :)

In Durnstein, Austria at the top of the mountain where King Richard the Lionhearted was held captive. We estimated that it was about 1000 feet up. You know, vacation should be about 15K bike rides and hiking up small mountains. It was SO worth it though! The valley was beautiful.

Durnstein, Austria. Isn't it cute? We drank yummy cold chocolate (actually called frozen chocolate, but their version of frozen and ours are quite different!) and walked around a bit. We decided that on future trips we want to visit these small towns outside of the major cities.

Oh, I just love looking at these pictures! In the busyness of life, they're an escape. We had a wonderful vacation. It was worth the movie and dinners out that we skipped to save for our getaway! I can't wait to share about the rest of our trip.


Christine said...

looks like heaven!!

Linda said...

Awesome!! So glad you finally got to fulfill your dream! Mom