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….