We were sad to leave Weitra after another spectacular week, but it’s time for the adventure to continue… in another small Austrian town.
Monday 15/4: Since the snow had started to melt away, we headed out for a longish walk in the afternoon, along the Gabrielental. We’d walked part of it the previous week, but this time we went a lot further into the forest, following the river and circling back around to where we started by another path.Tuesday 16/4: Konrad picked us up at around 4pm and took us to the Nebelstein mountain for a bit of hiking. He’d grown up nearby so we thought it’d be pretty straightforward — but no, we managed to get lost! We could see our destination, a mountain hut, at the top of the hill, and there was a wide snowy road leading directly to it. Unfortunately, it ended abruptly about 500m from the top, and we backtracked to find a walking path Konrad remembered. Well, the path we chose certainly wasn’t the right one, because we were wading through knee-deep snow. At one point I put a foot wrong and went in up to my thigh – it was awesome! We eventually made it to the top, and checked out the views from the summit before rewarding ourselves with a beer at the mountain hut. The landlord helped out a bit further by shouting us a schnapps.
We’d arranged to meet several of Konrad’s colleagues for dinner at a local heuriger, and we arrived right on time half an hour late. The food was delicious (jause! jause!), the company was even better, and we had a really nice evening.
Wednesday 17/4: Inger (who we went to Cesky Budejovice with on Saturday) and her friend Ilsa were concerned that we didn’t have any plans for the afternoon, so they offered to take us into Gmünd — we’d been there briefly on our way to Weitra, but you don’t get a very good feeling for a town from its train station. So they took us on a walk through the Blockheide Nature Park, a park filled with interesting rock formations, after which we had an ice cream in the beautiful town square.
The mountain hut landlord had invited Craig and me back to the hut for dinner, so after our ice cream we made our way back to the Nebelstein, where Konrad was waiting for us. We were joined by Gerhard and Barbara and had a lovely evening drinking beer and eating a tasty cheese noodle dish.What we hadn’t realised when we’d accepted his invitation was that the hut landlord was inviting us in the Austrian sense — he wouldn’t let us pay! Actually, we spent most of the week trying to battle off the incredible generosity of the people we hung out with — it was truly breathtaking, thanks everybody!
Thursday 18/4: It felt like summer paid a visit on Thursday — the temperature hit 25 degrees! We spent most of the day inside though, and when we finally decided to go for a walk and enjoy the sun, it started raining. So we just visited a couple of shops and headed home to do a bit more work. In the evening we had a beer with Konrad and a bunch of his colleagues — the ginger beer that our hotel makes is really something special.
Friday 19/4: Konrad and Inger had both recommended we try the carp at a restaurant in the town square, so we decided to eat there for our last lunch in Weitra. Craig had a schnitzel but I ordered the carp, which was succulent and well prepared — but not at all to my taste. I have learned something important: I don’t like carp.
In the evening we finally went to the vinothek with Konrad and everyone else: Gerhard, Ilsa, Sabine and her husband, Hubert, even Konrad’s wife Eva was there (she works shifts and we hadn’t met her until then). It was a real party and the wine was delicious, I can’t believe we waited until our last night to go! We’ll just have to go back to Weitra.Saturday 20/4: Unfortunately the bus connections to and from Weitra on the weekend are quite scarce, as we’d discovered two weeks previously when we arrived. There was just one direct bus to Linz, which left at 8.17am — not our preferred time, but it was the only one that made sense. So we took it.
We’d arranged to meet Sabine so she could give us the Jack Wolfskin voucher she’d collected for us (part of the great shirt-shrinking debacle of 2013), and she suggested we go to Ars Electronica Centre. So we did, and it was awesome. We watched a 3D movie about space, got silhouette stickers, and played with all sorts of cool gadgets. Lunch in the restaurant was a bit of a disappointment; the service was poor and my lamb was overcooked. At least dessert was delicious!
Too soon, it was time for us to leave and catch our train to Pettenbach. We had to change at Wels, and made a mistake while looking for our platform; we had to run to get to the right place, and caught the train by the skin of our teeth.We’d hoped to visit a supermarket and stock up on supplies, but we’d overestimated the size of the town — the closest supermarket is some way away and it closed at 4pm anyway, not at 6pm as I’d expected.
So we had to have dinner at the restaurant attached to our guesthouse. It was delicious, wild garlic soup followed by chicken with asparagus and raclette (very seasonal); it was a tasty way to celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary.
Later, we wanted to watch a movie and for some reason we ended up renting Pitch Perfect — and it was surprisingly enjoyable.
Sunday 21/4: After a pleasant sleep in, we headed to the restaurant for breakfast; it seemed very basic after the amazing spread we’d had on offer for the previous two weeks. Then we got a bit of work done, and I went for a run and saw all sorts of animals: chickens, enormous hares, even two deer. Later we headed into town to have a look around and had a delicious late lunch in a small restaurant before the long walk back to our place.