The Hills Are Alive…And Burning My Lungs

Posted By on November 6, 2013

On our only full day in Vienna, we did a wine tasting and bike tour of the Wachau Valley outside of Vienna. Going into the trip, this was the one thing I wanted to do. I could take or leave any of the other things we did, but this! This I wanted to do!

And we were not disappointed. Hands down this was probably my favorite part of the whole trip, even though it required actual physical movement and exercise.

We actually almost didn’t even make it. We were running late and didn’t have the time allowed for the subway. So we tried to hail a cab, which proved to be damn near impossible on the busy Vienna streets. We finally saw one dropping off a lady across the street and ran the cab down and forced it to take us to our meeting point.

It was really fine, actually. They build in a lot of buffer time with these tours. We had time to check in and get some water and take a photo before we even took our walk over to the subway to go to the train station.

After a short subway ride, we made it out to a train station that was going to take us to our bikes. The train ride was about an hour or two, and uneventful. Except for the three people sitting behind us, who were annoying as fuck. They were like 20 and in the midst of traveling across the world for a year and not only did their voices grate on my nerves, I was also extremely jealous.

I should point out here that I cannot tell you the last time I rode a bike that was not a stationary one in a gym. High school? Maybe college? Bottom line: A long, long time ago.

I wasn’t that worried about it. I mean, that saying has to have a bit of truth to it, right? That was until I got on the bike, weighed down by a heavy backpack on my back that was throwing off my equilibrium, and I was very, very worried about how I was going to bike for the next several hours.

I almost fell off right at the beginning. It was a giant group of us, all trying to get moving and there were some curbs and turns and I almost ate it. This was one of many times I was grateful for my long legs. It makes falling off a bike a lot harder when you can just touch the ground with your feet while still sitting on the bike.

I finally got my bearings and we were off. And it was the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. The hills and the mountains right near the Danube River were majestic and so, so pretty.

Our first stop was at Domane Wachau. The Wachau Valley is known for their white wines, particularly their sweet wines like Riesling. We tried several wines at this place and they were all really good. I would have loved to buy a bottle, if I had known how to get it home. I really should have bought some of those wine bags for my suitcase.

After that stop, I handed the backpack off to Alli, thankfully. It was a hell of a lot easier to ride without it. We strapped it into her basket to make it a little easier for her. And then we were on our way, winding our way through the vineyards, trying grapes off the vine, and heading to a town for lunch.

Lunch was in this adorable little town where the youngest building was from like the 1600s. Lunch was good and we had some cocktails with lunch, which probably wasn’t the best idea, since we were still riding bikes for like 5 more hours. But thankfully, this stop included time to walk around the town. It also included a chocolate and liqueur tasting at a little shop.

Everything in this town was apricot flavored. We tried apricot mustard (so good! I actually bought some! And I hate fruit in all things!), an apricot liqueur and some apricot chocolate. They also sold anything and everything made with apricots – soaps, lotions, you name it!

And then we were off again! This part of the tour had some amazing views and then we went down this hill and wheeee! This is a piece of cake! I could ride a bike all the livelong day!

Oh, hahahahaha, self! That downhill part was the ONLY downhill part! There were then a lot of giant hills on this part of the ride. And poor Alli had to lug that backpack! We finally huffed and puffed our way to the next stop, a wine tavern. And where was this wine tavern? AT THE TOP OF A GIANT HILL THAT REQUIRED ONE THOUSAND STEPS TO GET TO!

Alli smartly threw the backpack at me halfway up, because she was probably ready to ditch it all at that point. But it gave us such a dewy, fresh look in photos. Dewy = sweaty.

At this point, I didn’t even want wine. I wanted a car and a gallon of water. But the views? WORTH IT!

I made someone take a photo of me in my best “The Hills are Alive” Sound of Music reenactment. It wasn’t the same, but it works. It was the closest I was ever going to get to any of the Von Trapps and sexy Christopher Plummer.

After this stop was more riding and then we got to the river. We were taking a self-propelled ferry across the Danube to the other side to continue the tour. So we actually made it on the Danube in both Budapest and Vienna!

The rest of the trip was through apple orchards and other parts of the winery. At this point, we were apparently running a bit late. We had a few slow people on the tour that all but died after the hills and slowed us down. Normally it is OK, but we had tickets for a train back to Vienna at a certain time.

We made it, barely. There was quite a bit of running (my turn with the backpack, of course) to make it to the train on time, but we made it. Thank God! But even if we hadn’t, there was another train in an hour, so we would have been fine. And probably less sweaty.

After the tour, we got back to the hotel and got ready to spend our last night in Vienna. We actually found a really good Italian place near our hotel for dinner. It was a nice break from all the goulash and meat.

Melissa went back to the room after dinner, so Alli and I wandered around the city that night. We went past the oldest church in Vienna, which was beautiful all lit up.

Our first stop was to get a famous Sacher torte from the Hotel Sacher. (Spoiler alert: I had it the next day when it was probably a bit dried out, but it wasn’t that great.)

We tried to find an area of town that the guide from the previous day mentioned, but we just ran into a lot of dead ends. We ran into this sign a lot, which we decided told people they were not allowed to dance in the streets.

We couldn’t find anything that looked open (it was a Monday night) so we decided to go back to the 1516 Brewery, since we knew where it was and that we liked it. The place was PACKED! There was a soccer game on and it was a giant sausage fest. Minus the couple making out next to us at the bar, it was a good place.

I didn’t know Alli super well before this trip, but it was nice to have a night with her to just hang out, chat and get to know each other. We are bonded for life after going on this trip and I hope I get to travel with her again!

We smartly only stayed out until a little after midnight. Our train to Prague the next morning was early and we were getting picked up at the hotel in like 7 hours. Yay for being responsible adults!

Up next, what was probably my favorite city – Prague!

Rest of my Vienna photos are here.

About the author

Kristabella, who also answers to “Hey! Drunk Girl!”, is a reformed band geek with an amazing ability to drink most people under the table. You can read her inane ramblings here, where she talks about her exciting life as a spinster with two cats and a fascination for Bacon.


One Response to “The Hills Are Alive…And Burning My Lungs”

  1. Mahnee says:

    I felt like I was in Vienna….on a bike!