I’ve driven past it many times and have also strolled around the town of Dürnstein – which sits below – but I had until the other day never walked up the hill to the ruins of Dürnstein Castle.
For those finding themselves in the picture postcard town of Dürnstein……
… and thinking of making the hike up the hill I say it’s worth it for the view along the river Danube and the surrounding villages of the Wachau region, but not for the ruins themselves.
There is little of historical interest in the site itself, which is disappointing for a castle that played host to Richard the Lionheart in his captivity.
While the steep path up is fine for those in ordinary shoes if you are comfortable traversing the mix of smooth stone and loose grave but even on a hot, dry day I’d recommend footwear with a decent grip – especially if you intend to climb around at the top.
If you don’t fancy the climb then you can simply join the many other tourists enjoying the chance to wander around the town before jumping back on their coach and rushing off to the next stop.
If you aren’t in a rush then I’d recommend spending a few days exploring the Wachau – which sits on either side of the Danube – with it lovely villages, terraced vineyards, and relaxing heurigen.
Personally, I love spending my time here eating and drinking, but cycling, walking and playing in the Danube are all available in an area only an hour or so from Vienna.
An article today in the Austrian Times highlights concerns in Austria about a new Hungarian law limiting the number of cargo barge using the river Danube. It seems that the Hungarians are arguing the law is needed for environmental reason but the counter claim is that they need to put more focus on infrastructure measures and water level management.
A policy that pushes ore and coal traffic off the waterways onto road and rail is in itself environmentally damaging, so this would seem on first viewing to be an example of needing to look at the wider picture. The EU has agreements in place that are meant to increase the days of navigation on the Danube which this law aim to help achieve, but it goes against the EU target of increasing barge traffic by 20%.
The protection of the environment, shared resources and free flow of commerce are all arguments for countries to work together and pool sovereignty within the EU, for their own and the greater good. Based on his story it would appear that we are yet again failing to seeing those benefits materialising.
Getting this co-operation right is likely to become even more important as the Alpine glaciers continue to shrink. The major source of water for central Europe their decline is certain to have environmental and economic impacts that will only be successfully address through Europe wide strategies – the alternative is increasing tension between countries and the loss of environment, resources and wealth.
On a lighter note, this report is a good excuse for me to put on the blog these pictures of a coal barge travelling through the Vienna stretch of the Danube.
Earlier in the week I had the chance to go walking in a small part of the Marchauen Donau National Park. I say part, for as you can see from the website it starts inside the boundaries of Vienna and follows the Danube River for the 36km through Lower Austria to the Slovakia border.
This major central European wetland provides a valuable range of habitats as well as offering those living in or visiting our corner of Europe the chance get close to nature. On this short excursion I had the opportunity to observe a colony of Storks, nesting, engaging in mating displays and hunting in the watery meadows:
If you head down to Vienna’s Old Danube, don’t forget to take a shovel……
When you’ve cleared the ice of the snow, put on your skate’s, and have donned your Vienna Capitals shirt, then the Ice Hockey practice can begin….
or you could just stick with skating but mine out for the dog walkers….
Alternatively, you could just take a stroll……
Sailing with a boat is right out……
but if you’ve remembered your pump….
you can go sailing across the ice, pulled along by the breeze…
However, there is something to be said for good old fashioned skies…
But it’s not the place for a quiet sleep…..
and some take flight….
But if you are looking for peace and quiet you’ll need to avoid the nearby Danube as its something of a busy, working river….