We came to Weitra to get away from it all and to get some work done, and while we’ve certainly done both of those, we’ve also been surprisingly busy — who’d have thought this tiny town had so much to offer?
Monday 8/4: We spent the morning working then had lunch at Willie’s café, which we’d been told was a bit of a “men’s bar”. It wasn’t as bad as all that, but the food was a bit overcooked and not really to our liking.
In the evening we headed down to the sauna again, and spent an hour or so enjoying the heat (and braving the cold shower for contrast).
Tuesday 9/4: There are a surprising number of restaurants in town, but a Turkish/Greek one caught our attention on Tuesday. We both ordered really delicious gyros plates, and the owner kindly packed up the (quite large) remains of my serving — I just couldn’t finish it all. It was all right though — the chicken made a perfect addition to our evening salad.
Craig wanted to play a board game after dinner, but when I didn’t understand his “shall we play a game?” reference, the plan changed and we ended up watching War Games.
Wednesday 10/4: Konrad picked us up in the afternoon and took us to Naturpark Hochmoor (high moor nature park) near Shrems, where we went for a long walk into the forest. Most of the snow on the paths had melted, but there were some icy patches where we had to be careful, and many sections of the woods were still covered in a white blanket — it was really pretty. We managed to take the wrong path at one point, so the walk was a little longer than planned, but that’s pretty normal for Craig and me!
We stopped in Shrems for a beer on the way back to Weitra, where we were joined by Hubert to meet Zedi the nightwatchman. Konrad had told us that Zedi would conduct his tour in German and that Konrad would translate, but after a couple of minutes’ chat in German about his trip to New Zealand, Zedi switched to English and kept speaking it for the whole tour.
The tour was really fantastic. Zedi explained the history of the town, including its founding and importance as the first brewery town in Austria. We saw interesting elements of several old houses, like spy holes, plaques, and stones on the corners of buildings that were placed there to stop horses and carts damaging the walls. We also visited a 16th-century house with a truly spectacular ceiling, and a water cistern that used to supply the town with water and was only rediscovered recently.
I’d say this tour is on par with any tour I’ve done in big cities like London or Prague, and in some ways was even more interesting because I didn’t have any knowledge about the town before we set out — it was all new and exciting. And of course, Zedi’s costume was awesome.
Of course, it wouldn’t have been appropriate to end the tour of a brewery town without having a drink, so we all headed to the Brauhotel for a beer. I finally got to try the seasonal ginger beer, and it was delicious — I’ll definitely have that again.
Thursday 11/4: After a long morning of work, we had a light lunch at home then headed out of town a little for another mini hike on a path called the Gabrielental. It was a lovely walk, though once again there were small patches of ice to navigate; but it just feels so good to be in the forest! Unfortunately it was too cold for us to have a go on the Barefoot Park installations — these are walkways filled with natural products of different textures, that you walk along with bare feet — but I’m hoping that the weather will be warmer at the end of next week.
Friday 12/4: We worked all day, then met Konrad and his workmates Gerhard and Sabine for a few drinks in the evening. Sabine’s husband doesn’t speak much English, so I tried my hardest to speak German — with mediocre results. It was a lovely evening though, though when we came to pay we were surprised to find that all our drinks had surreptitiously been paid for by Konrad and Sabine! These people are just too nice!
Saturday 13/4: We made sure to enjoy the breakfast buffet to the best of our ability, and at 11.30 we were picked up by Konrad and his friend Inger for an excursion to Cesky Budejovice. Weitra is very close to the border with the Czech Republic, so Konrad had offered to take us for a visit.
Inger played the part of tour guide, and we visited the gorgeous main square (making sure not to stand on the gallows stone in the middle of it) and also climbed the Black Tower for fantastic views over the city. We had a Budweiser beer and a light lunch in the brewery restaurant, then checked out a new hotel and wandered along the river.
We still had quite a lot of time left in the day, so Konrad suggested we visit Holašovice, a cute village that is a Unesco World Heritage site. We spent half an hour or so wandering around looking at the beautiful houses, then stopped in at a cafe for a coffee and a Holašovice cake.
After that, it was time to head back to Weitra, where we waved goodbye to Konrad and Inger and spent the evening at home watching “The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus”. What a fantastic day.
Sunday 14/4: We slept in a bit then lingered over breakfast before heading back upstairs to get some work done. I went for a run around town (and I actually mean around the town — I followed the town walls) and soon after I got back we headed out for a long walk along the Gabrielental. We went a bit further than last time, and discovered a few new statues and turns in the river; it was really pleasant.
Back at the hotel, the weather was nice enough to sit outside — IN T-SHIRTS. We were stunned, and had to medicate ourselves with beer and tasty burgers.
We spent the rest of the day inside; working, reading, and watching a bit of TV. Dinner was a muted affair since I’d forgotten to go to the supermarket before our excursion on Saturday and we got back after the shops shut, and we weren’t hungry enough to go out. At least there was chocolate and schnaps for dessert!
If you’re interested in doing the Weitra Nightwatch Tour, it runs every Friday and Saturday from May to August at 8pm, in German. However, if you call Zedi (Ernest Zedebauer) and ask nicely, he’ll probably run one in English for you. Ph: +43 664 51 66 356, firstname.lastname@example.org.