Austria: wine country, castles, and a skull altar?

The third part in the three part series about my adventure in Europe this summer. If you missed the last post, you can click here and if you want to go to the first post, you can click here.

I know this post is a bit overdue, but here goes nothing…

After boarding a riverboat in Passau and a day of biking, we arrived in Austria. We arrived to our hotel which was formerly the home of a sea captain way back in history. We were staying in a region of Austria known as Wachau Valley along the Danube river. The first thing you could notice as we entered the area was that there were vineyards everywhere you looked. The river was surrounded by mountains and hills and all along the sides of the hills were vineyards and villages. We had entered Austrian wine country.

According to our guides, the region is extremely well-known for its wine production in Austria and is considered to produce some of the best white wine around. Having heard this, you would have thought that maybe you had heard of the wine from this region, but you probably haven’t. Apparently, the people living in the area who produce the wine usually end up drinking it all themselves and as a result, the wine never usually leaves the area. So unless you are at a restaurant in the area or are passing through, it would be extremely rare for you to have tasted wine from this region. Now, I’m no wine connoisseur, but one night we went to a wine tasting and I thought it was pretty impressive stuff.

Our biking through this region was beautiful and brought us through many of the vineyards. One day however, we were told to keep an eye out for a certain church as we passed through a village. Inside the church was an altar of real human skulls that dated back from the time of the Bubonic plague. I have no idea why this altar was there, but it was interesting and a little creepy at the same time seeing a bunch of skulls stacked on top of each other. The only bummer was that we were not able to get into the building with the altar, but had to observe through windows and a door keyhole.

After a few days exploring the Austrian country side, we spent a day in Vienna, the capital. The city was nice and an interesting contrast from the vineyards and open countryside we had been in for the past few days. We saw monuments, sculptures, extravagant buildings, and decorative churches. Since we only had a day in the city, we didn’t waste much time and set out to see as much as we could as fast as we could. We even had delicious food at one of Vienna’s oldest restaurants where Mozart and Beethoven had even been hundreds of years ago. I loved what I saw of Vienna and would love to go back one day and explore some more!

After our day in Vienna, we boarded a plane back home. Our trip had come to a conclusion. Without trying to be a salesmen of any type, if any of what I had mentioned in this three-part series has interested you and you are currently looking for an active vacation, I encourage you to check out VBT! They have a ton of vacations and options to choose from and I would definitely recommend them!

Anyway, I am looking forward to my next adventure, wherever that may be!

-Drew

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