Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Durnstein in 39

Thirty nine hours may not seem like much, but it was juuust enough time to experience the magic enchantment of Durnstein, Austria



Still not convinced? Worry not, I'll explain everything. The pictures will do most of the talking anyhow..



See what I mean? For real though, let's get serious.

Showing up:

We arrived in Durnstein via what seemed like 298374 trains and a bus, but in actuality, it was 3 trains and a bus from Croatia. If you're not coming from Croatia, you can fly into Vienna and easily make your way to the Wachau Valley.

Hold up. Where's Durnstein?

Friendly facts:

-Durnstein, Austria is about an hour (give or take) West of Vienna, in the Wachau Valley aka Wine Region.

-It's smack dab on the Danube River.

-The Wachau region is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

-THERE'S LOADS OF WINE.



...We rolled in late afternoon on the bus from Krems. (Which, in a side note, and contrary to my original thought of it being "Kremes," they do not, in fact, have an overload of donuts.)

The bus gracefully dumped us just outside of town where I noted there was a grocery store that we would most likely need to return to later. What I failed to note, however, were the hours that the store was open...but I'll come back to that later.

Immediately upon crossing the street and officially entering Durnstein, is when it happened. By "it" I mean the level 10 enchantment factor. It was like we were sucked into an abyss of fairytale-esque, unearthly magic. Whatever combination of river, landscape, wine, and atmosphere Durnstein uses; well, the formula works. Well done, Austria, well done.



We strolled the cobblestone streets to find our abode for the next 38.5 hours, and it was so adorable that I almost didn't even care that I was hauling my obese pack, and dragging Lil Bea through the bumpy lanes. Not suprisingly, Lil Bea's wheels and cobblestone don't mix.



This is what I donned as a "pocket pot"


Siesta spot:
What I've learned is that where you stay can really make a difference in your overall experience of a destination. 

Maybe it was because we had just come from staying in someone's attic. I don't know for sure. But what I did know was that I was staying in a GD fairytale.

Although you probably can't go wrong in Durnstein, or the surrounding areas in the Wachau region, I would completely recommend staying in what you will wish is your new home. The Heritage Durnstein Apartments made the enchanting experience, well, even more enchanting; if you can believe it.

Perhaps not the easiest of accommodations to locate, it was not a huge problem due to a friendly local tending to his garden. He was more than happy to point us in the right direction; by literally pointing.

Flat #2 could be considered as far too much for two people on a normal day. But seeing as KJ and I had been spending an abundance of time together, it was just perfect. We each had our own bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen that rivaled most of the kitchens I'd ever been in, in my entire life. That table though...

This is where I fell in love with an inanimate object. The kitchen table here was rustic, beautiful, elegant, and adorned with some sort of soft, cushy-cozy fur throws on the seats. It was my new favorite writing spot. GOOD LUCK KICKING ME OUT OF HERE HERITAGE DURNSTEIN. 




Also, let's take a full moment to appreciate this view:



**For a complete look at my stay with Heritage Durnstein Apartments, check out my Sweet Sleeps page and scroll yourself down to DURNSTEIN.

3 9   H o u r s :

As much as I wanted to bask in the gloriousness of the apartment, I knew there were mere hours to explore this fine destination that seemed to exude gobs of charm. So what can you really do in less than 2 days? Here's 39 hours in a nutshell of how to get the most out of Durnstein:

Day 1: SHOW UP. CHECK IN. EAT. RELAX.

SHOW UP. CHECK IN.
Chances are you'll arrive in the afternoon/early evening hours like we did. Check in was wildly easy...once we found the flats. Just a keybox with a code. So, get settled, & explore your digs. Oh, and either purchase a bottle of wine at a shop while they're open, or, if you forget, then no worries because the Heritage Flats have THEIR OWN WINE CELLAR. It's a bit pricier to take from the wine fridge in your space but a lifesaver in a pinch. 



EAT. 
No one feels like cooking right when they arrive; and you're on vacation, are you not? Head out and take a short walk to a lovely little corner spot in Durnstein that you shan't regret. 

Weinschenke Altes Presshaus was exactly what I was looking for. It was warm enough to park ourselves outside on one of the benches skirting the restaurant, and we did. Wine and sausage were abundant and I was one happy girl. 
Exhibit A
RELAX:
Once your belly is full of sausage and undoubtedly the best sauerkraut you've ever had, there's only one thing left to do. Head back to the flat for some R & R. Crack open that bottle of wine and head up to the terrace with a blanket, or not if it's warm enough. The wine and comfy factor of the flat should lull you to a good night's sleep. It's necessary, seeing as there's a big day ahead tomorrow.





Day 2: SHOP. RENT. RIDE. WINE. DINE. 

SHOP.
Pop out first thing in the morning after a coffee on the terrace, and head over to hit up the grocery store for some provisions. Grab some grub to cook up for dinner, because when you get back from the day's adventure the last thing you'll want to do is go to the store. Also, it'll probably be closed, so there's that. 

RENT.
Absolutely rent bikes. We borrowed ours for $12 each for the day from the Hotel Schloss Durnstein just down the lane from the flats. A small price to pay for the fruitful fun it provided.


View from Hotel Schloss
RIDE.
Head down the hill onto the bike trail, which conveniently is also the wine trail. Best. Invention. Ever.




So ride. Take in the scenery, which, by the way, is top notch. Take detours if you feel like it. Stop where you want and just look around...because you are In. A. Fairytale. 





For every bunch of grapes there are, there's a winery to visit. They're everywhere, and they're calling you... and so, you should go. 

WINE. DINE.
The next town over from Durnstein ended up competing for favorites in my book. Weissenkrichen in der Wachau rivaled Durnstein, and if I were to return, which I plan on, I'd probably, almost definitely stay there. Just don't tell Durnstein.







The winery options are seemingly endless. For us, since it was just off-season, it was a game of who's open. Most are on a map, not always easy to find, and sometimes literally someone's house. Which makes it all the more fun to discover and explore. Be bold.. and knock on a giant wooden door. We hit up the following spots and don't regret any of them:

WEINGUT KARTAUSERHOF:
This was one of those times we weren't sure if they were open, and they weren't; but as if it was completely normal, because it is, they opened for us...and poured some wine. The owner and his wife were extremely nice and accommodating, even giving us recommendations for other wineries to stop along the way.

*tip: try the Gruner Veltliner




WEINGUT KARL HOLZAPFEL:
Cute garden. Good wine. 

*tip: food is pricey, save noshing for elsewhere.






PLAYING FAVORITES:

WEINGUT ZOTTL:
*tip: order the meat and cheese platter, and if you're super adventurous, try the tongue. (I did NOT.)

The last stop on the bikery winery tour (I just made that up) was Weingut Zottl. The people, atmosphere, food, and wine kind of blew my mind.






DINE AGAIN.
Remember how I told you to buy some food to cook up later? This is where that smart planning comes into play. Use the fully stocked and operable kitchen, BBQ facilities, or pizza oven. That's right, pizza oven. Cook up a fabulous meal in the flat, or book a private, fancy one in the wine cellar. Either way, win/win. 




DAY 3: SUNRISE. HIKE. PASTRY. DEPART.

SUNRISE.
Not a morning person? Well too bad. I know, it's early. I promise you don't have to go far, or even get dressed. Roll out of bed, head up past the terrace to where the hot tub sits and prepare yourself for the beauty that will unfold. This is what sunrise looks like in a Disney movie, or fairytale land; by the way.




HIKE.

Since you'll be up anyways for the sunrise, take the quick jaunt up to the Kuenringer Castle ruins. Because every fairytale land needs a castle, obviously. The views are said to be spectacular. Two amazing viewpoints in one morning? BONUS.

PASTRY.
Let's undo that hike with some worthwhile calories, because you earned it. Schmidl Bakery is the place to be for pastry. Not joking.

DEPART.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end...until next time anyways. Check out, hop the bus, and start plotting your next adventure. Revel in the fact that you just got the most out of Durnstein you could in exactly 39 hours. 





THINGS I WISH I DID:

- Venture across the river and explore some of the towns on the other side, like Rossatz.

-The hike to the castle ruins. I didn't actually get do it because of the weather, but would've squeezed it in if it hadn't rained!

-Indulge in the apricot strudel at Restaurant Sanger Blondel. It is said to be wildly amazing.

Things to note:
-Off season particulars: Less crowds? perfect. But that means shorter, if not sometimes non-existent hours for restaurants & grocery stores (remember I said I'd come back to that later? Later is now.)

-Durnstein can get a tad crowded during the day from cruise ships and other day trippers that come to experience the same enchantment that you get to sleep within. They all head out around 4pm, and then it's virtually all yours...

-The further you go on the bike trail, the further you have to ride BACK. After wine. Just keep that in mind.


     __________________________________________________


Amusing tidbit:
Taking a bikery winery selfie in between every stop turned out to be a hilariously grand idea...





**Heritage Durnstein Apartments: sleeping in a fairytale



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