Since the last post we have added another 190 miles (440 since leaving Salzburg) and visited two capital cities; Vienna and Bratislava. Before the final run in to Vienna we travelled through the Wachau region, a stunning, wooded, section of the Danube Valley with beautiful villages and a myriad of hilltop castles, although mostly ruins.
Vienna has many majestic buildings which result from it being the seat of the Hapsburgs Austro-Hungarian empire for centuries until 1918, when war saw the end of the empire and Austria became a Republic state. The Old State Treasury houses robes and the Crown jewels including golden crowns set with enormous precious stones. The cloaks and robes are remarkably preserved, with exquisite embroidery and vibrant colours in amazing condition; some dating back to 1100! A four mile ride to visit the Hapsburg’s summer residence, the Schönbrunn Palace, was most worthwhile even though we could see only 40 of the 1,441 rooms! The gardens, fountains and sculptures are mind blowing.
Just 40 miles downstream the Danube flows through the state capital of the Republic of Slovakia, Bratislava. Slovakia joined the EU in 2004, uses the Euro as it’s currently and is party to the Shengen agreement which has allows free movement between participating member states, so there were no border checks or money changing issues for our overnight stay in the old heart of the city. It has a distinctly different vibe than Austria, definitely a lingering hint of its eastern block past, however we enjoyed our visit, particularly the heart of the old town. Gavin was very taken with the trams.
Leaving the Danube flowing towards Hungary, we turned south, back into Austria following the, excellently signposted, Jübilaum cycle route; firstly through vast acres of maize studded with hundreds of rather majestic wind turbines, then through miles of vineyards where harvesting is in full swing. Our billet for tonight is bed and breakfast at a winery in the charming village of St Georgen near to the Nuesiedlersee Lake. Yes we did try some and very good it was too.