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Tails From the Vienna Woods

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Donau Niederösterreich

Potatoes and Planes

And rescue dogs. What a great Saturday!

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A Weekday in the Wachau

Friends were in town both socially and for work a couple of weeks ago, and with one of the days being a UN holiday, the four of us enjoyed a day outing to the Wachau Valley. The day was beautiful, albeit still in summer’s stronghold of high temperatures.

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Passing through cornfields en route to Melk Abbey. You can take the guys out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the guys!

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Summer Break Roundup I

Summer break, the Vienna version, has come to an end for Anna Grace. She departed this morning for a week stateside to visit friends, returning just in time for the start of the school year.  All things considered, the summer days we spent together were pretty darn good. I had the privilege of handing off all planning to Anna Grace; and her suggestions were spot-on for great day outings.  All I had to do was drive (if necessary) and pay for lunch!  Bonus. 😊

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Schloss Niederweiden, an Imperial Hunting Lodge

This year marks the centenary of the death of Kaiser Franz Josef, the longest-reigning Hapsburg ruler. Across the region a number of museums and palaces are hosting exhibits to mark this occasion, and this one in particular piqued our interest. 
The good Kaiser was an avid huntsman, with meticulously maintained records outlining the nearly 50.000 kills he scored over his lifetime, of everything from birds to bears.
Kudos to the curator who created an antler dome in the Chinese Room.
The exhibit was small, but thoroughly held our interest. Through a combination of paintings, photos and artifacts, the Emperor’s love of the hunt was portrayed. This is the Emperor’s riding crop.

 And these are the drinking horns!

One of the outbuildings served as the lodge’s kitchen, and has been thoughtfully recreated for this centenary exhibition. While the exhibition runs it is possible to reserve seats for one of the wild game dinners, which could be fun.

Barrels like this one, to shred and pickle cabbage into sauerkraut are still in use today at groceries and markets.  Not a visit to the grocery goes by where I do not observe someone filling a carton with the pickled side dish. 
As we are wont to do when out in the Marchfeld, lunch is taken at, of all places, a Gasthof in a village of 3.000 that serves Thai cuisine. Make that, excellent Thai cuisine. The restaurant has always been a curiosity to us; on this visit, though, we had the pleasure of meeting the proprietor’s wife, a lovely woman from Thailand. It all makes sense now.

Schloss Grafenegg Adventmarkt, a Rare Return Visit

Call us holiday market connoisseurs. When the Niederösterreich newsletter arrived in my inbox, listing the “most beautiful markets,” of the season  I pored over it like I once did the Toys R Us catalog as a I child. And why not?  So many palaces and castles that rarely open to the public fill their rooms with holiday greenery and handcrafted, locally produced goods for just one weekend, making visit feel like a mini-holiday. Add in a spectacular setting, and we are happy daytrippers. With so many markets to choose from, though, we have only made rare return visits in our soon-to-be four Christmases in Vienna.

Weekend Roundup. Perchten, Palaces, and Plenty of Food

It is no secret that we like to venture out on the weekends; and with Christmas markets opening across the region, the weekends seem to plan themselves!

Saturday’s itinerary took us to Schloss Krumbach, a former Palffy palace tucked into the Koralpe range of the eastern alps, and to the southwest of Vienna. The palace, like so many, is a wedding destination hotel; there is a palace chapel for the ceremony, beautiful rooms for the reception, and guest rooms for all of the celebrants. Reaching this particular schloss required a 16% grade switchback drive, followed by a short walk from the parking up to the grounds. The effort was worth it.

Weekend Roundup. Meat and Markets.

Saturday dawned sunny and bright, and thus Tony and I needed no further invitation to head out somewhere. One of my news feeds mentioned a festival somewhere nearby in Slovakia, and that was good enough for us.  It turned out that the town was celebrating the autumn kill, or something (we don’t speak Slovak!) Though everything on the grill smelled wonderful, eating barbecued animal parts at 1030 in the morning wasn’t for us.

 

Giant Pumpkins, Carp Spread, A Biblical Buffet, and Royal This and That

The Austrian Giant Pumpkin Growers (a real group, with an English-language title!) held their annual competition this weekend at Die Garten Tulln, a beautiful, beautiful garden in neighboring Niederösterreich.

Never Too Old to Look for Turtles

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.”

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