-A 5-part journal of a kayak trip down the Danube in 2009-
The Wachau may be the most beautiful section of the entire river.
In Austria it is mandatory to wear life vests in the locks. We hate life vests, as all our paddling friends know, so we didn’t have any. A friendly sport boat captain loaned us these just for appearance.
More and more of these humongous cruise ships come sailing by. They often come from Russia. On the water they don’t bother us much, but they make huge waves that wash up the banks; they can easily take the kayak and swamp it or make it float away, and, if you don’t pay attention, they can even reach the tent.
At the heart of the Wachau, the castle of all castles, with a wild and romantic history. Rebels lived here, robbers, and saints. Parvin & Klaus were once here and dreamed of a wonderful life together that not only came true but was surpassed by reality hundredfold.
A last trip to Dürnstein, another highlight of the Wachau. All these places are saturated with history, with heroic tales – brutal and beautiful – most of them entirely true. King Richard Lionheart of England was held captive here during the crusade times. The Swedes were here and destroyed the great castle. The blue church tower was an oddity that outraged some clerics for some time, and wars were fought over it.
An old couple approached us in town and talked to us for quite some time. They were in their 90s and smiled in a most beautiful way and talked to us as if they had known us for ever. “No kids? Good !”, they said. “Take care of each other, there are enough kids! Don’t worry what others think! There is so much envy, don’t let it bother you!” They said all this without being questioned. Here they are, waving us goodbye as we paddle on.
(In the end we didn’t even go all the way to Vienna) (only another day or two away) We finally give the boat to our landlady; and it looks like it will actually have a second (or third) life with her grand kids now. We rent two bicycles and go exploring. We don’t go far, just wandering around up and down the Wachau. It’s wonderful, no more camping.
We explore all the tiny little villages around. We drink Marillen Schnaps (Apricot brandy or liqueur) and Muscatel wine and ‘Heurigen‘: actually the new wine of the current year, but it’s of course always from the past year. The local wines are terrific.
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Flying home is comfortable and easy. Our luggage is light this time.
– Aug. 13. 2009 –
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Klaus August 2009