Austria day 4 – Wachau Valley

Today is dedicated to exploring the castle ruins, churches and adorable towns of the Wachau Vally along the Danube. The area between Krems (Durnstein is about 2 miles south of Krems) and Melk is around 20 miles. Not a huge distance but the area runs along both sides of the Danube and is filled with quaint picture book villages, vineyards and castle ruins.

Yesterday we spent most of the day on the southern bank. Today was dedicated to the northern side. We headed south to Spitz where we were searching out the ruins of castle Hinterhaus. First we wandered the town, popping into an old church.

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After driving down what appeared to be a bike path we crammed the car against a stone wall to walk up a trail marked for the castle ruins. You really have to search out the signs as while they are there, the majority are small tourist signs designed for the folks walking or biking between villages. A little more difficult to quickly read while driving.

Hinterhaus is perched high on a hill accessible by a narrow steep trail leading through orchards and vineyards. ┬áThere may be an easier path to reach the ruins by the Maritime Museum but we didn’t find it! The ruins are truly ruins.

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The castle is available to simply explore at will. And your own risk! It’s refreshing to get away from our American over protectiveness and fear of lawsuits. In Europe they appear to believe in personal responsibility!

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It was great fun clambering up steep rock staircases to reach amazing views from the old tower.

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The views from the top were of course spectacular.

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After climbing around the ruins we headed back down the hill picking a few plums along the way.

Our next stop was the small town of Weissenkirchen just a few miles further north. Here we enjoyed lunch, more scenic views and another historic church.

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Being exhausted on cuteness we decided to return to Durnstein to explore and of course visit yet another ruin! This time it was an even steeper climb to the top of the hill to the Durnstein castle ruin.

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The climb actually begins way down by the river! This next photo really put it into perspective. The blue tower is the church just a few buildings over from our hotel. Way down there! There are two ways to reach the ruins. One is a series of steep stairs snaking up the hills. The other is an “easier” graded road we took the the descent. Neither are particularly easy.

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After admiring the incredible Danube views and recovering from the climb we returned to town where we enjoyed a lovely restorative wine tasting.

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A little shopping later; an apricot liquor tasting and a bit of a rest it was time for dinner. Tonight’s selection was a rustic tavern.

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We began the evening sharing a table with some Austrians and ended the evening sharing with some Germans from Bavaria. They treated us to some schnapps and were a bit shocked we had come all the way from California to visit Austria for only 10 days or so. They of course were right. We need more vacations!

So far the Wachau has been a wonderful adventure. A bit exhausting but amazing! I’ve been wearing my Fitbit exercise tracker the entire time and the activity level has been a bit astounding! Today we reached a peak of 100 flights of stairs climbed. I guess always taking the hotel stairs and climbing to two castle ruins will do that! Okay, so the day was only 94 flights. I had to climb a few more hotel stairs to exhaustively reach 100. I couldn’t get to close and not hit that landmark number!

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Tomorrow we explore Krems and head into Vienna.

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