Hiking in the Vienna Woods

It’s Saturday morning and we’re waking up at 6 a.m. with the sun these days.  I love that my Jake is an early riser with me!  We quietly put on our shoes and go down the street to a bakery that is open early on the weekends, just like us.  We get croissants and marilla krapfen stuffed with apricot jam, and bring them home to Daddy and Eli who are are usually still snoozing.

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Then what?  Well,  we’re still in temporary housing and there are only so many ways you can build forts in the living room out of bed pillows and couch cushions!  These days the boys are like Tasmanian devils, tumbling over themselves and wrestling on the bed, rolling on the bathroom floor, wherever I am, they follow me.  Pretending to be hamsters and squirrels, turning their blankets into puppet shows; is it normal for 8 year olds to play this way?  We all need to get out of the house!  Swimming pools, wine, riding bikes along the Danube… what do the Viennese do that we haven’t done yet?

The unofficial National Sport of Austria.  Hiking!  A “stadtwanderweg” is a hiking path.  And there are miles and miles of them in the Vienna Woods just on the edge of town.

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Mike has become an expert at finding his way around and knew the best place to start our hike was Nussdorf.  Okay hamsters, let’s go to Nussdorf!

Here is Eli on the tram.

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Sounds like a nice place to start hiking!

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Our destination was Kahlenberg.  A hike of 1-2 hours depending on how fast you go (and how fussy your children are).  We are somewhere in the middle, moderately fast with intermittently fussy children.  If you make it to the top via the oddly marked trail, you are rewarded with the most beautiful panoramic view of Vienna.  Crowning the edge of the hill is an old fortress, a church, and a few restaurants offering the expected mix of schnitzel and ice cream.

It is easier to introduce your children to hiking when you can promise them ice cream at the end!  Here is the Kahlenberg fortress looking up from our rooftop in Vienna (with a zoom lens):

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In the foreground you see the tower for the city trash incinerator, made into a work of art by an artist named Hundertwasser.  http://www.hundertwasser.at/index_en.php 

The Viennese even make their trash beautiful.

Below the buildings, you can see a small example of the rows of vineyards that are planted all along the city’s periphery.  At first we didn’t really believe that people here actually went hiking every weekend, stopping to drink wine in real live vineyards along the way.  How naive we were.  Yes, it is true that this is what people do!  As we made our way up the hill, the view of how fun this could be was unmistakable.

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These vineyards go on for miles!  In every direction!  I am really developing a fondness for  Austria.  And Gruner Vetliner.

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The hike started out okay and stayed fairly steady until the end.  It was steep, not something for someone who isn’t in decent condition, but a good way to get some exercise and feel deserving of some afternoon wine and ice cream.  One of the great things about Austria is knowing there are free, clean water fountains to be found everywhere.  Such a change from the past 7 years when we had to bring all our daily consumables with us.  This is easy!

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When we reached the top of Kahlenberg, our woodland peace gave way to a more lively crowd of cameras, backpacks, and cigarette smoke that had arrived by tour bus.

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The church was a nice place to rest beneath stained glass windows and candles.  The boys always light a candle, and we remember Ukraine and Georgia.

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Outside, we took a minute to think about this city’s Locks of Love.

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Every city should have a place for Locks of Love.

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We also hiked over to Leopoldsberg, a crumbling medieval fortress at the other end of the mountain.  The views from there were even better.

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Vienna keeps giving us more reasons to love living here!

I’m not sure that three years will be long enough.

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