The Donau – part 5

-A 5-part journal of a kayak trip down the Danube in 2009-

Part 5

 ************

 The Wachau may be the most beautiful section of the entire river.

 The weather is still crazy, but we get used to it.

Maria Taferl, another abbey and famous pilgrimage destination.

 Schönbühel Castle, the entrée to the Wachau.

 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.

 We did a short trip on one of these passenger ships. The captain steers with the joy stick, and he has thrusters in the hull of the ship that can push it sideways.

 Aggstein Castle

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.

 Looking down on the Donau. (Only the ships are sometimes blue!)

 In the Wachau the ship traffic becomes alarming.

Weißenkirchen

 And this is Spitz; the ‘Tausend Eimer Berg‘ of Spitz: a hill, completely covered with vineyards that is said to produce a thousand buckets of wine per season.

 The entire area is a poem of wine, fruits and romantic earthbound natural living.

 We rent a room in a bread & breakfast house in the middle of a vineyard and stay for the rest of our time. Inge Geppner is our host and cares for us like a mother.

 

  We do long hikes in the hills around…

 Wineries everywhere.

 Spitz, viewed from the castle

 An old paddle steamer

 …we saw those a lot more in our younger days.

This was around 1971.

 Our journey is coming to an end.

 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.

 Downtown Dürnstein

 

 

 (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.

 And there are other delicacies…

 … fruits in abundance. These are Marillen (Apricots); the Wachau is famous for them. And Parvin looks at the Chanterelles that are so good.

 All the fruit trees are aching from their load this year. It is a record harvest this season – precisely because of the super wet weather we did not care for so much.

Some funny unknown fruits looking at us.

 * * *

 Flying home is comfortable and easy. Our luggage is light this time.

– Aug. 13. 2009 –

* * *

 The end

                                                                           Klaus  August 2009

This entry was posted in 2009, Donau 2009, Other Travels, Summers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Donau – part 5

  1. Vlado says:

    Very nice story and pictures. Thank you. We try to publish something similar about Donau around Bratislava (in Austria, Slovakia mainly and Hungary.) Ou stories are more tourism promoting than your personal story. You can see right side of the page with our paddle trips tips: http://www.panorama.sk/sports

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