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Trip Report Don't Visit Vienna in Late September!

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(Disclosure: This is a tongue-in-cheek report, mostly for those who think Vienna is too stuffy, too Imperial, or isn’t worth visiting.)

On the last weekend in September, Vienna hosts “Wien Weinwandertag,” in two of the wine growing districts of the city. While the vineyards are always “open” to hikers, many of the smaller wineries are not, making this weekend a great time to head into the hills (even if you don’t imbibe!) Information points are set up, offering maps and the opportunity to earn a “Wien Wein Wandern” pin for hiking at least 3km of the 11km trail. Paths are marked, and dozens of vineyards open their temporary “Wienbau” and “Buschenschank” for hikers to taste the new wine, sturm, or sample a vineyards own wine. Traditional heuriger foods of dark breads with spreads are available to purchase, as well.

Last year DH and I were rookies and hiked just 5 km of the path in the 19th district. We had only moved to Austria a few months before and weren’t quite prepared for hiking uphill. This year was different, though. On Saturday morning, with the sun shining brightly against autumnally cool skies, we were out the door at 10:00. At the west end of the trail we picked up our map, received our first stamp (the gratis stamp) toward the three needed for the pin, and started walking. Uphill. And more uphill, passing a non-official sign that read, “Only 500m more to go!” Encouraging! We were close to our first wine stop at only 10:30 in the morning!

But alas, this Weinbau was not one of the “official” stops; rather, one of the many small wineries that set up spontaneous tents as tagalongs, and was not open until noon. Uphill we continued to the first official Buschenschank and paused for a shared glass of sturm and two slices of dark bread with kurbiscreme (pumpkin creme) spread at one of the picnic tables set up in between the vines, with a slightly hazy, but expansive view of the city below.

And on this delightful routine went. The older, the younger, the parents pushing “kinderwagen” uphill, and lots of happy dogs passed one another on the trails, with everyone in great spirits. The larger wineries had music, lounge chairs, and warm foods available in additional to the traditional heuriger foods; while the smaller wineries offered just simple, delicious, breads, spreads, and sausages at picnic tables crowded with friendly hikers. Sampling grapes from the vines, and pausing to take in the views from atop Vienna kept us going well past our intended 5km. Nearing the end of the trail and close to home, one of the more notable heuriger, Mayer am Pfarrplatz, had opened their vineyard tavern and offered plates of roast pork (from the pig turning on the giant spit), kurbiscremesuppe, kartoffelsalat, plum and cherry cakes, and glasses of their sturm and wine. We settled in comfortably at a picnic table, surrounded by grapevines, sunshine, and the heady aroma of fermented and mulched old vines to enjoy our late lunch before hiking the last kilometer downhill toward home. 11kilometers in 5 hours (and four glasses of sturm). Not bad for a couple of 40-somethings.

Stuffy? Not at all. Imperial? Hardly. Worth visiting? Well, if you’re not into experiencing local culture and comestibles, friendly people, and amazing scenery in the Vienna Woods, I doubt the photoset will change your mind on Vienna. ;)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fourfortravel/

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