I trust you enjoyed my latest April Fools. I certainly had fun writing it!
Let me let you in on a secret - I am not going to space. Yet.
Instead I am visiting Budapest, after which I will be cycling the Danube cycling path from Passau to Vienna, on a self-guided trip booked through Exodus.
It will be my third trip to Austria, having previously hiked in the Alps on two different trips. This time I wanted to explore the beautiful Danube river as it wends its way through a pretty valley, deep woods and past historic towns, castles and abbeys to Vienna.
I will start my trip in Passau, a historic market town at the confluence of three rivers just across the Austrian border in Germany. From here I will cycle into Austria past thickly-wooded slopes, perhaps stopping for a beer at the only Trappist brewery in the country. I will be sure to enjoy the stupendous views from surrounding hills as the Danube works its way through the bends of the Schlögener Loop. As the biking is fairly easy - a few hours a day, I have already planned several hikes out of the valley to compliment my bike ride.
This is a land of castles - just about every strategic mountaintop is home to one, where once local warlords would press travelling merchants for taxes. There is Schloß Ottensheim, where rumour has it that a tunnel under the Danube links to a castle on the opposite bank. I am not planning to look for it...
There are abbeys galore too - the Cistercian Abbey at Wilhering, dates back to 1146 while the Augustinian abbey of St. Florian is one of several Baroque jewels in this part of the country.
After exploring Enns, with its Renaissance and Baroque facades, tower and fortified walls, I will reach the beautiful baroque town of Grein where an old theatre, time-honored cafes and Greinburg castle await discovery.
After Grein my route wends its way past forested rock formations on both sides of the river, before ending in Melk, home to one of the most impressive abbeys in Central Europe.
It is at Melk that I will enter the Wachau, a UNESCO-world heritage wine growing region, known for its terraced vineyards. Castles dominate the landscape here too with Schloss Durnstein among the most famous. It was here that King Richard the Lionheart was held captive for ransom on his way home from his crusade. I however will be sure to experience Austrian hospitality of my own choosing as I plan to visit small taverns for local food and drink.
From the 1000-year old town of Krems-an-der-Donau I will take a train to Tulln to bypass a portion of the here not-so-schöne blaue Donau. In Tulln I will get back on my bike to ride through towns like Greifenstein and Klosterneuburg and past Kreuzenstein Castle into Vienna. Here I have four full days to explore the palaces and museums of this great yet underrated city. Needless to say I booked myself a performance at the famous opera as well!