Friday night my friend Doris invited me to her house Saturday morning for homemade pancakes. When Andrea and I showed up the next morning, it was a bit of a couchsurfing get-together! My friend Meghan was there and Doris had a couple friends over as well as three couchsurfers staying with her at the time. Doris and friends made amazing chocolate chip pancakes from scratch and everyone that came brought different toppings. We had all kinds of fruit and jam and sweets, including real Canadian maple syrup from the two couchsurfers from Canada.
After our late breakfast we all headed to Brunnenmarkt, the Turkish vegetable market in the 16th district. I was especially excited about this because we are each assigned a different district to present for our Cultural Studies class coming up in June and I was assigned to the 16th! I was able to take quite a few pictures and start my project.
Couchsurfers bike through Wachau
That day Doris, Meghan and the couch surfer from Virginia, Hannah Love, convinced me to come on a bike ride with them the next day. I was a little apprehensive because I have never been very good on a bike, but I said yes anyway. I woke up early Sunday morning to meet the group of twenty or so couchsurfers at Florisdorf station. We were all from different backgrounds; there were people from Australia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Turkey and the USA. We then took the train to the Wachau region and got our rental bikes. Dominik, who grew up in Krems, led our bike tour. We biked down one side of the river and then back up the other, visiting the towns of Dürnstein, St. Michael, Spitz, Mautern, Stein and the city of Krems. One of my favorite parts was riding along the river directly across from Dürnstein. The picture above shows all of us posing in front of Dürnstein and you can see the ruins that I hiked to on our class’s field trip to the Wachau last month. It was tough getting back on a bike, but I’m glad I did it. Now I feel comfortable enough to rent the city bikes in Vienna (as long as I stay away from cars).
Biking through Wachau
After we returned our bikes, Dominik led us on a walking tour of Krems. First we rested our bike-weary legs in the park and then filled our bellies with some ice cream. Then Dominik took us up a hill in Krems to overlook the Wachau valley. It was beautiful. After the train ride home, Doris, Hannah, Jai the Australian and I went to Vienna’s famous ice cream shop on Reumannplatz called Tichy. There we tried a wonderful dessert called Eismarillenknödl. It is apricot mousse made from the apricots grown in the Wachau region surrounded by vanilla ice cream and rolled in cookie crumbs. OH MY GOD. I have been back to try the raspberry and snowball flavors as well.
It was a wonderful weekend where I met a lot of people and I can’t wait for more couchsurfing events!
Yesterday our school took us on a field trip to the Wachau region of Austria. I am sure glad they printed us out an itinerary or I would never remember all the things we did!
The Wachau region is the part of the Danube river valley stretching between the cities of Melk and Krems.
We started out our day early in the morning on the south side of the Danube, heading to Stift Göttweig. Stift means monastery or abbey in German. Stift Göttweig is a Benedictine monastery built in the 11th century. However, the abbey church was built much later during the Baroque period. This monastery is famous because the first known German language poet lived there. We only had a short time to explore here, but we were able to enjoy the mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture.
Our next stop was Stift Melk, the largest monastery in Austria. The surviving Baroque monastery was built in the early 18th century. (The Baroque stuck around longer in Austria than in other countries.) Here we visited their unique museum. My favorite part was the library; there were old books lining the walls floor to ceiling. Apparently there are 85,000 books in the collection with 2,000 of them handwritten between 800-1400 CE. We also went inside the Klosterkirche or cloister church; it was the most gaudy church I have ever seen. The walls were covered in decoration with tons of gold-plated figures!
After visiting Stift Melk we crossed the river to the north side of the Danube. We had a picnic here on the banks of the river in a village called Aggsbach. We enjoyed the sunshine while playing on the playground and skipping rocks in the river.
After lunch we hopped back on the bus and went to Willendorf, a small non-touristy village. We walked up to the discovery site of the Venus of Willendorf, the oldest figural sculpture ever found (approx. 25,000 to 30,000 years old). Although the sculpture is actually on display in the Natural History Museum in Vienna, they have erected a large-scale replica of her at the discovery site.
Next we headed to Dürnstein for a small hike up a mountain. At the top of the mountain are the ruins of the castle where Leopold V held King Richard the Lionhearted for ransom after the crusades in the late 12th century. Apparently the English paid the ransom and Leopold V used the money to build the entire city of Wiener Neustadt south of Vienna. When we got up to the top of the mountain, we climbed all over the ruins and looked out over the whole region of Wachau. It was a great way to end our whirlwind tour of Wachau. Before heading back to the bus, Andrea and I went wine tasting at the little shops in Dürnstein. Wachau is well known for its Grüner Veltliner wine and I ended up buying a dry white wine for only 7 Euro. It’s delicious!
It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday and now I hope today will be a bit lazy to make up for it. Because I can’t upload any more photos to Flickr, look at my pictures by clicking here.
The Ruins at Dürnstein
Filed under Austria, Wachau