Today dawned gray and with the threat of rain. Our high-adventure children scrapped their plans for the zip line park atop Kahlenberg and stared at me over breakfast with that, “What are we doing today?” look. Easy-peasy. A quick search of the Niederösterreich Card website came up with Schloss Orth, a palace on a small island with a nature park in the Marshfeld, about 45 minutes from the house.   Have I mentioned how much I love the NÖ card? 
The former hunting schloss of a royal someone is one of the four in the  “Marchfelder Schlosserreich” along the Danube between Vienna and Bratislava. We have visited two of the others, Schloss Marchegg and Schloss Hof previously and after today, only Schloss Erkartsau remains. The island and palace are part of Austria’s National Park system and even kept the two teenagers amused.
In the palace courtyard is a monument to the largest fish ever discovered in the Danube. Really. Made us hungry for a seafood lunch (which we did indeed enjoy later!)
The palace had a watchtower from where we could catch a glimpse of the Hainburg Mountains and Bratislava peeking out in the background.

 The tower was also home to a stork nest, but no one was home, to my great disappointment.

Though the children are almost 14 and 19, at every water scene it was imperative we look for turtles and snakes.  The beavers were a little harder to find, alas.

 Now this is my kind of Insect Hotel!

Rope bridges over waterways brimming with turtles, frogs, snakes, and beavers?  Anna Grace was there!

 Sitting still and calm helped us spot snakes catching an early lunch. Circle of Life right in front of us.

 This trunk washed ashore near Hainburg an der Donau and was dated to be from the 1300s. Most likely it had been used as a moor and was well preserved. Pretty cool, we thought.

Baa Baa Black Sheep and friends peacefully exist on the island with their reptilian and amphibious friends, too.  Today’s outing is something that Tony and I love about our children; they prefer experiences to “stuff,” though they would not turn down the “stuff” if handed to them.  How many parents have two teenagers who would say, “This was really fun. I’m glad we came out here.”?

 On the route home we passed another Isrealitsche Friedhof, a small space surrounded by modernity.  This one was particularly saddening to me.

 “Last Funeral: 1938.”