The weather above was preparing to cry down on us as we disembarked from our boat to enter the UNESCO landscape of the Wachau valley. It lay before us with its rows of spindly vineyards, historic villages and crumbling castles. This was to be our last day of cycling along the Danube in Austria. Like babes in blankets we were wrapped up warm for this journey. Our boat quickly left on a race to beat us to our final destination.
A few miles down the cycle trail and it wasn’t soon before we were distracted by a roadside food stall selling regional delicacies and local wine.
Easily tempted, we found ourselves bundling our panniers full of tasty picnic treats to enjoy later. The cycle trail quickly diverted away from the river Danube, our chains clinking, as we passed a scattering of rustic old homes and never-ending lines of vineyards.
The vines clenched knuckles wrapped around each other like an old persons fingers holding on to life. With a back drop of angry clouds, rolling hills and layers of mist suddenly our immediate surroundings felt kind of eerie…
The small walled town of Durnstein distracted our thoughts as its colours sparkled in the distance. Ancient terraced vineyards welcomed us on the outskirts.
The bright blue monastery provided a grand view of the Danube river – From the balcony we saw our boat putt merrily by. Time was also spent sampling local wine and finding cosy shops to warm our cold bodies.
Rosy cheeked, with hearty wine in our bellies, we were back on the bicycles when a drizzle of rain began. It followed us, past the knobbly branches of the vineyards. Joined us as we weaved in and out of the most picturesque villages and didn’t leave our side until we stopped for lunch and another guzzle of delicious wine.
Fresh puddles splashed us on the last leg of the journey. The mist was heavy and the rolling hills climbed to higher heights caving in around us making us feel like miniatures in a big world. The cycle trail soon surprised our legs with a few inclines. Our leg muscles pushed onwards gratefully taking us to the town of Willendorf.
This is the place where the Venus of Willendorf was discovered. She is an 11cm long female figure, made from chalkstone and estimated to have been made 25,000 years ago. She is now on display at the Natural History Museum in Vienna. We stopped to admire a gigantic version of her sitting proudly a top a small hill overlooking the town.
The emotional clouds above never cleared. We hurried onwards to meet the boat.
It didn’t take us long and we soon found ourselves saying fond farewells to fellow cyclists and staff aboard our boat.
We had throughly enjoyed our time along the river Danube, but time couldn’t wait – we had a train to catch. A boat trip down the canals of France was our next adventure, but that is another story…