Since my return from Hungary I have been on a continuous merry-go-round and it has been such fun. The 91st Birthday celebrations were fabulous and last week, while heading out for a hike I fell upon a tourist information office that was, not only full of info but also had bicycles for rent. It felt like winning a lottery because there are so many trails that criss-cross between Slovakia and Austria with ruins, castles, monuments and beautiful flood lands of both the Danube and the Morava Rivers.
I continued on my hike across a foot bridge that was completed in 2012, replacing a wooden bridge built back in the 18th Century and destroyed in 1939. The bridge, called the Freedom Bridge to remember all those that lost their lives while attempting to cross the river to freedom, leads directly to Schlosshof a beautiful summer residence of Empress Maria Theresa of Habsburg, the mother of the doomed young Marie Antoinette. It is a beautiful clear sunny day as I gain sight of the castle, more like a manor house with stunning
formal gardens. I will return for a closer view on Saturday, when I am on a bicycle. The grounds open in March but since it is still very early in the season, access is only from the back which is about four kilometres away. Enough for today. A bicycle ride on Thursday to test the gear and also the operator … Gear needs a little attention from the service department and operator’s rear end needs some callouses. Our regular pub on Friday evening was celebrating one of the musicians birthday. Vlasco, a guitarist was in full form. The establishment was serving up platters of pogača and roast pork
knuckle with fresh bread, mustard, horseradish and pickled hot peppers. There was no shortage of food, drink or revelry. Saturday morning was the start of a full 45km day or cycling. It started out with a cross over the Freedom bridge, past Schlosshof and through some beautiful floodplains of the Danube Schlosshof, to Engelhartstetten, Stepenreuth and over the Danube
River to Bad Deutsch-Altenburg. There are significant Roman ruins here from a settlement called Carnuntum and built from 37-14 BC. However, yours truly was absolutely exhausted. With less than three hours left of daylight I headed back taking the same route As on the outbound journey in the morning. All in all, it was a most satisfying day and the ruins would wait for another visit, which I am confident will take place. Now it was time for a nice hot meal and a good soak in the tub.
Sunday offered another super day for cycling so I took off early in the morning and this time stayed on the eastern shore of the Morava biking northward on the Slovak side of the border. Here again the flood plains of the Morava, on this clear sunny day with birds chirping and wild swans swimming in the shallow flood channels, created a mood of peace and tranquility. My destination was the northern town of Vysoka Pri Morava and then a quick ride eastward to Zohor. I have now pedalled for 20 km and am getting hungry and thirsty. Aha, a sign VIP Pub welcomes cyclists … A quick stop offers cold beer but no food! I have quenched my thirst and pedalled southward to Devinske Jazero, not certain what I will find but it is closer to home and in the worst case scenario there is food in the fridge. Suddenly I see a group of bikers going through a gate and when I arrive at the gate there before me is a biker’s haven:
cyclists, bikes, food and drink. I immediately dismount, order food, a beer and rest. The rest is mostly for my bottom which is now VERY tender. I console myself with the fact that there is only about six to seven kilometres left before a relaxing hot bath! Ah the miracles that a hot bath will do for a weary body. I am regenerated and connect via Facetime with Jochen. We chat briefly about getting together and he asks me to give him a quarter of an hour to “make plans”. When he calls back he informs me me that he has made reservations for me to fly to Geneva where I am to catch a train to Lyon, France. We will spend a few days in Lyon and then fly together to London so that I may meet his partner, Catalina and also
visit with Elena, his dear ex. From London I fly back to Vienna a week later. The bonus to all of this is that Gunnar Klein, another dear friend living in Munich, will be in Lyon on business so that I will be able to see him as well. This whole trip is a generous gift from Jochen. Csilla, you are such a fortunate being; blessed with so many loving friends. No doubt I will have a great deal to write about in the next ten days. Blessings to all of you …