phewww, still out of breath from the weekend. mainly, because i said YES to everything. yes, i will go to a concert of a legendary 1980’s czech punk rock band! yes, i will go to the easter market in the square and eat all the food! and when my tour-guide landlord came and knocked on my door at 8:30pm saturday night and asked if i wanted to go to the wachau valley in north-central austria at 7:00am the next morning… well, of course i did!
so we set off bright and early, crossing the border into austria about forty-five minutes into the car ride. as soon as you cross the border, the road quality changes and you notice differences in the architecture. my favorite part: i can read everything again!
our first stop was in zwettl at a famous monastery and managed to catch the very end of a palm sunday procession. everyone was carrying pussy-willow branches instead of the dried palm leaves that are typical for an american catholic mass. curious! below, a fountain in the town center designed by famed viennese artist and architect, friedensreich hundertwasser.
second stop, the lovely little town of krems, situated on the danube river. we peeked in monastery courtyards and down pretty little lanes with shiny wet cobblestones. austria always manages to be pretty. she’s like the pretty girl at school who isn’t even trying. we saw folks exiting the later palm sunday mass. doors with inscriptions from the 17th century. misty monasteries perched on a hill high above the river.
after krems, the rain let up and we were able to visit a beauuutiful show (botanical) garden… but i’ll leave that for later this week.
afterwards, driving through the wachau valley– it was almost too beautiful. alex said it was so pretty that he was getting angry.
before we popped back across the border, we made a stop in mohndorf armschlag– the poppy seed capital of THE WORLD! i highly recommend stopping here at the little mohnwirt restaurant and cafe, give a hearty grüss gott to the kind owner and lovely waitresses, and take a peek into the barn to see the largest collection of poppy mills ever collected. i was ashamed to admit that i didn’t think poppy seeds really had taste before i came here and ate the mohntorte (cake). now i know.
there is a certain gemütlichkeit you’ll often find in austria and germany that i just don’t really experience here in the czech republic. perhaps some of you know what i mean! in the mohnwirt cafe, i really felt like a guest… the atmosphere was overflowing with joviality and warmth.
visiting the UNESCO heritage site of wachau valley on the danube is a wonderful stop on the way to vienna. it would make a perfectly enchanting hiking destination! the danube river is gorgeous on its own… so add in a string of enchanting old villages embedded in the greenest hills you might ever see and a sprinkle of hilltop monasteries or castle ruins and vineyards? breathtaking beauty that is classic central europe.