Monday 21st May
Today is a public holiday and everything except restaurants and tourist related operators are closed.
Had to wait until 10am to check out as the Heuriger restaurant (with the office) did not open until then, and saw lots of the Mohos leave much much earlier and wonder if they actually paid their fees? They don’t seem to keep a record here of registration plates or names because none were taken on arrival and on departure, they only asked for the number of days we stayed.
First sunny day in a few days so only travelled a short distance further into the countryside.
Our campsite for tonight: Stellplatz 55+, Deutsch Jahrndorf – GPS 48.007858N 17.110861E
What a delight this little village and the Stellplatz is. The wide pitches are set amongst beautiful trees and well maintained grass and gardens. There is no listed fee but a donation box is beside the service point and “garcon” arrives on his bike late afternoon to collect the donations.
After lunch, we took off on the bikes through the small village where nothing seemed to be open and then followed the bike trail along the Hungarian border to the village of Pama about 10kms away. We passed by a trail called “the iron curtain trail” but kept to the Austrian side today. Our German neighbours in the Stellplatz were taking this trail to Bratislava which was a round trip of about 60kms so expect we wouldn’t see them until early evening.
Saw a Gasthof with cars and bikes outside so ventured in where there was a group celebrating a 60th birthday. Saw the band arriving half an hour later to set up but we left well before the music began. Such wonderfully traditional little pubs here with Austrian artefacts gracing each spare spot on the walls.
Thoroughly enjoyed the ride past other little communities with only vineyards and crops for most of the way.
Sat and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings for the rest of the day and watched horses and bikes pass by. The trees and gardens are home to so many different birds who sang happily throughout the afternoon. Even saw a rabbit scurrying across the field below.
Tuesday 22nd May
We are back in the country of wind turbines and one area we passed through today had hundreds for as far as you could see.
Our campsite for tonight: Parking Donaupromenade, Bad Deutsch, Altenburg – GPS 48.140739. 16.900530
This is a huge gratis parking area right on the Danube. We had travelled through several villages and towns along the Danube last year (though not this town) so watching the river cruise boats and dredges brought back memories. The river flows very fast and some vessels found it hard beating against the tide.
There is a huge park adjacent to the campsite that goes forever along the Danube but bikes were not permitted here (pedestrian access only) so decided to walk through the beautiful park and into the small town. Not a huge amount of activity whilst we strolled through.
Lots of locals come to the river to sit and enjoy the view but all were well behaved.
Adjacent is a boat slipping area for small boats where there were about five sets of rails that took the smaller boats down to the River.
We had tried to visit the tourist bureau but like so many places here, they were only open for a few hours in the morning with a two to three hour break in the middle of the day and then open again for a couple of hours mid to late afternoon.
Watched the lights of the cruise boats float bye until late in the evening. Like all cruise ships, they sightsee during the day and travel at night.
Wednesday 23rd May
Only a few short kms away, we found this little gem, again with a Danube riverfront location.
Our campsite for tonight: Hainburg an der Donau – GPS 48.150900 N 16.944400 E
Within a few minutes walk, we were in the heart of town and on the way saw many buildings of many years gone by with stone water towers, arched stone bridges and a fortress wall surrounding this quaint little town.
Passed a shopping centre with all the larger shops you could wish for and lots of smaller shops in the heart including an ice cream parlour (had to do as the locals do – taste the lemon and mango combination -yum!).
This area is part of a national park with lots of caves and a castle to explore. There are walking and bike trails everywhere and it is great to see people using them. I am sure that the Europeans were born on bikes and riding is such a natural way of life here.
We watched many groups of teenagers (high school age) go on canoe adventures starting from the little cove in front of us. Down stream only as there would be no possibility to paddle against this tide. Once they hit the main river it took them miles away in only a short time – what a buzz!
Finished another great day with dinner in the local Heuriger. Enjoyed a really great local Chardonnay and a shared mixed plate of local wursts, cheeses, pickled vegetables and some of the best tasting bread (the Europeans really know how to make it). Good to see my driver become more adventurous with trying some of these local foods.
Thursday 24th May
We are heading into new territory for us in Northern Austria now and leaving the Danube behind.
Three out of every four places we pass by end in “dorf” meaning “village” and each has its own special characteristics. We love these places off the beaten track and are keen to spend time here and explore as many as possible.
Our campsite for tonight: Schloss Wilfersdorf, Wilfersdorf – GPS 48.585999 N 16.645140 E
This is just the smallest village where we are parked in the grounds of this castle, Liechtenstein Schloss. Very different from the ones we have seen perched high on hills with the only way up on the back of a mountain goat! This is a low set two storey building set on huge level grounds.
Check in is at the castle desk where a small fee of €4 is requested and all services are included. They are just so lovely here and provide tourist maps of numerous walks and bike trails and nothing is a problem. Only three Mohos are permitted and we were lucky enough to be number two – though by the end of the evening we managed to squeeze four in.
Here there are four villages within a few kms of each other including Bullendorf, Hobersdorf and a little further to Ebersdorf an Der Zaya. The walking and bike trails through these villages are only a few kms apart so not a huge effort on day one to visit these.
With thunder and lightning on the horizon, we headed back quickly, eager to try part of the longer Liechtenstein Trail tomorrow. This trail covers around 60kms each way ending in the Czech Republic but we have plans to do only a small part of it tomorrow.
Dropped in at the local pub just in time for dinner (goulash and a half pint to wash it down with – yum!). Our friends at the next table kept us entertained during the evening while a very large St Bernhard and its owner sat at another table – man’s best friend is not limited to where they can go and dinner in a restaurant is no exception.
Friday 25th May
Poured with rain all night and all hopes of a bike ride were dashed right up until mid morning. Made a few phone calls home, did some research and writing and waited for the weather to clear – not today it seems.
Made a decision to move on by early afternoon and our planned route was closed for road works so the deviation took us to the Czech border. Didn’t want to go there today so promptly turned around and backtracked a few kms and found an alternate road leading to our planned destination.
Rain had eased leaving the valleys so green and fresh looking and driving through these back blocks now took us through so many beautiful places. I am sure the locals have never seen a Moho with Australian stickers before and each person we talk to is amazed we have travelled so far. Their reaction is always the same – big smiles, eyebrows raised and then the words “Australia – so far away”.
Arrived at the Thayatal National Park Campsite to find it a little more than overgrown and needing lots of tender loving care to be ready for the summer vacation period. The forest itself was wonderful, with walking and biking trails everywhere and kids play areas and a restaurant ready to take hundreds a day – but not today!
Drove on a little further to Austria’s smallest town – Hardegg. It has its own fairytale castle set high atop of a rock overlooking the Thayal River which is the official border between Austria and Czech.
Really lovely little town and worth a visit. The river front areas were set up as a great picnic area and especially inviting with lovely trees and gardens and of course a couple of restaurants.
Decided not to stay in the national park Stellplatz so moved on 30kms or so.
Our campsite for tonight: Eggenburg Stellplatz – GPS 48.645600N 15.817200E
The local shire has provided three similar motorhome dedicated campsites along this small stretch – Ratz, Pulkau and Eggenburg. All are in close proximity to the centre of town but the best in our opinion is Eggenburg which is set in a quiet location with lovely trees and grassed areas surrounding it.
It is a self check in where you fill in a card, put your 4€ in an envelope and place it in a box at the building at the entry to the car park. Maps and tourist information is provided so no need to look for the sometimes illusive tourist bureau.
Spent the evening enjoying the surroundings with only one other motorhome and the birds to share it with.
Saturday 26th May
Took off after breakfast up and over the hill and spent four hours in town. Today was market and artistic skills day, so we watched all sorts of activities including potters in action, glass blowing, wood turning etc etc. In the market square, we saw two young girls sitting in a bath enjoying an authentic mud bath.
St Stephans church was a real delight and whilst there, we watched a christening. Just so beautiful with acoustic guitarist and female soloist adding something special to the event.
The town is surrounded by a fortress wall and the old buildings in the central town square have been restored magnificently.
Had planned to stay another night but the festivities concluded at lunchtime and once all the stalls packed down, very few people remained. What was the height of activity only hours before now turned into almost a ghost town.
Time to move on again.