Friday, May 21, 2010

The Wonders of Wachau

We left Melk (which has a spectacular Benedictine abbey, see below) this morning and cycled on the north bank of the Danube through the Wachau region, which is one of Austria's best known wine growing regions, and offer some of the most beautiful landscapes along the entire Danube river. The scenery was breathtaking. The Danube flows through valleys and gorges, framed by mountains sloping steeply down to the south bank of the river. Chateaus (schloss) line the steep banks.

On the north bank of the river, where we were cycling, there is a succession of very beautiful villages, including Spitz, Weißenkirches and Dürnstein, which have been there for centuries.

All through the morning, we cycled through vineyards built along steep slopes on the north side of the river. The vineyards had obviously been there for hundreds of years, and were built up the steep slopes terraced with dry laid stone walls. The visual effect is spectacular. The terraced slopes are known as "stairs to the heavens", which gives the entire valley a very distinctive appearance.

Cycling through the many small villages, through narrow cobblestoned streets, surrounded by the stairways to heaven, one can imagine that one is back in the sixteen or seventeenth century.

During the afternoon we continued on to Tulln, which is only 40 kms from Vienna. It was interesting how the topography quickly changed after lunch from the mountainous wine country of the morning to the flood plains east of the city of Krems.

When we arrived in Tulln, there was a farmer's type market in the main square, and Claude and I enjoyed local wine and cheese, both of which were delicious.

Austria has been very nice so far, like Germany it's very clean, with beautiful villages, and the bike routes are extremely well marked and organized, and almost completely paved. We have done a lot of cycling over the past month, today was 82 kms and it felt like a short day. We even saw a little bit of sun. Hopefully, more of that is to come.

Tomorrow we meet Vince Mercier, one of my Toronto partners, my dear friend Wes Voorheis and his daughter, and my dear wife Maryse (I haven’t seen her in a month!) in Vienna. They will continue with us to Budapest.

If you haven't already donated to the Fund for Education and Research on Blood Cancers, please do so by using the online link above. Life is too beautiful not to make every effort to allow as many people as possible to enjoy a full and healthy life after leukemia.

     p.s. to Wayne: we had your favorite 5pm snack, in your honour.


  1. Dear Bill,
    What a wonderful journey!
    Although back in Montreal, we keep on travelling and sharing these great moments with you! We are lucky.
    Lucky to have someone like you reminding us of the beauty and generosity of life (yesterday's blog).
    Your will, efforts and commitment are a true inspiration!
    We wish we could be with you for the last stretch!!!
    Bonne continuation
    Your friends
    Diane and Denis-Claude

  2. Hi Bill,

    I continue to read the blog and see the beautiful photos with such pride to be your friend. You're almost there! Vienna and Budapest, capitals of Habsburg Kakania, are just around the corner! I hope you're going to visit the Café Sacher and have Sachertorte mit Sahne; in Budapest the Gerbeaud Kavehaz is a MUST!

    Wonderful to have Maryse with you! What a tremendous trip. You continue to inspire so many.