Cycling the Wachau Valley

Biking up to Durnstein

When I think of these blissful three days in April 2012 I do not conjure up scenes of colourful villages, misty vineyards, and spring orchards… although they were all well and truly present. No, I see my mum’s beaming face, with a grin that could have touched the sun itself as she cycled alongside the Danube river. I picture her with her head thrown back, squealing with joy, exclaiming at all the “negative ions” in the misty air that were nourishing her very being. Now, my mum has many moments where she shines – but travelling she is in her absolute element. I think I must have inherited this contagious love of discovery and adventure. I truly couldn’t visit too many places, or have too many experiences to ever be fulfilled enough to call it a day on my wanderlust. We are the perfect travel companions through and through.

So in saying that, I think I may have to let the pictures do most of the talking.
For me, the shared joy, wonder, and the freedom of a bicycle characterised this beautiful time together. I will forever treasure it alongside the image of my mum so delighted and enthralled with life. Together we explored little villages, cycled through abandoned vineyards, climbed ancient castle ruins, listened to the gushing river, and discussed what is important in life. We browsed charming shops, met intrepid europeans who invited us for fresh fish by the river, swayed to clanging clock towers, explored sacred Abbeys, and admired the spring flowers. As we were ahead of the tourist season, we had this most scenic of paths to ourselves. Usually filled with hundreds of cyclists a day – we did not see a single soul and were free to roam the village streets with the locals. A highlight was the achingly gorgeous town of Durnstein with it’s ruined castle perched atop, surveying both directions of the Danube. Sitting on ancient walls with the wind rustling our hair, life couldn’t have been more perfect. We thought of Dad, and wished that he was with us to share such a precious moment. He is such a brave soul, and his sacrifice and love was in every pedal of the bicycle.

For the more practical ones out there who want the itinerary – our journey started in the lively yet compact town of Krems, hemmed in by it’s two mighty entrance spires. We caught the riverboat the next morning with our bicycles (lent to us by a friendly local in our inn) to Melk. Melk’s main attraction is its soaring luminescent Abby, and is well worth a visit. We cycled through sleepy and scenic towns at a leisurely place to reach the small village of Spitz where we stayed the evening. The following day was another easy cycle through orchids and vineyards with a barge crossing to the other side of the Danube before crossing back again on a water taxi to Durnstein. The final leg was back to Krems. It could be done in one day for the keen riders, but you would miss the special magic the Wachau weaves, and I would recommend taking a more relaxed pace.

We fell asleep with great anticipation in Krems, as the next day we would be meeting Joel in Slovenia. A 5am train awaited us and I was so intent on making it I set three alarms! See you in Ljubljana for our next instalment….

Mother daughter bliss
Mother daughter bliss
Village streets in Krems
Village streets in Krems
Fortress Krems
Fortress Krems
Bare trees and bicycles in the square
Bare trees and bicycles in the square
Sunset on the cobblestones
Sunset on the cobblestones
Dusk falls in Krems
Dusk falls in Krems
Browsing the streets in Melk
Browsing the streets in Melk
Entrance arch to Melk Abbey
Entrance arch to Melk Abbey
Ceiling art in Melk Abbey
Ceiling art in Melk Abbey
Father
Father
Start of our ride in Melk with the Abbey in the background
Start of our ride in Melk with the Abbey in the background
Bare trees before spring
Bare trees before spring
Cycling through little towns
Cycling through little towns
This trailer was just begging for us to sit in it
This trailer was just begging for us to sit in it
Spring Blossoms along the trail
Spring Blossoms along the trail
Biking past old churches in little towns
Biking past old churches in little towns
Mum whizzing through another quaint village
Mum whizzing through another quaint village
Cycling by the tiny village canals
Cycling by the tiny village canals
Spring buds
Spring buds
Night stop no 1 - Spitz
Night stop no 1 – Spitz
Mum loving life in Spitz
Mum loving life in Spitz
Bit wet today!
Bit wet today!
Pitstop by the vineyards
Pitstop by the vineyards
The cycling bandits, en route through another village
The cycling bandits, en route through another village
Cycle path
Cycle path
Discovering the back streets above Spitz
Discovering the back streets above Spitz
Blossoms sheltering the daffodils
Blossoms sheltering the daffodils
Junction
Junction
Woodstacks in the orchids
Woodstacks in the orchids
At the river crossing for Durnstein
At the river crossing for Durnstein
River transfer to Durnstein...summoned by a wee tinkling bell!
River transfer to Durnstein…summoned by a wee tinkling bell!
Cobbled archways at the entrance to Durnstein
Cobbled archways at the entrance to Durnstein
Glorious colour makes Austria so cheerful
Glorious colour makes Austria so cheerful
On top of the world!
On top of the world!
Overlooking the Danube from Durnstein castle
Overlooking the Danube from Durnstein castle
Moments that will last forever x
Moments that will last forever x
Chilling out on the ruins
Chilling out on the ruins
What is left of the entrance archway to Durnstein castle
What is left of the entrance archway to Durnstein castle
The specialty of Durnstein - little balls filled with apricot or chocolate. Yum!
The specialty of Durnstein – little balls filled with apricot or chocolate. Yum!
Back to Krems for the end of our tour
Back to Krems for the end of our tour
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