After about three weeks of below-freezing temperatures alternating with various kinds of horizontal, semi-frozen precipitation, we woke up this morning to a balmy 40-degree day, and it wasn’t actually raining, snowing or sleeting yet.
So, since we never like to miss an opportunity to get outdoors, we pulled on our boots and went for a hike on the Donauinsel (Danube Island). Obviously, this is not the best time of year for a hike by the river, but after driving over the island for months, we just wanted to see what was down there.
The Donauinsel is a man-made island created as part of a massive flood control project. Basically, the Danube was dredged to make room for more water, and the resulting sludge piled up to make a long (21 km) skinny island running down the middle of the river. In the summer months, there are bars, cafés, and concerts on the island, along with nude “beaches” because you know how these Europeans are about taking their kit off in public. In the winter, only the extensive network of walking and biking paths remains open (unfortunately we discovered the public toilets are all closed, too…)
Despite the gray skies and the relatively early hour for a Sunday, there were a lot of people out biking, hiking, roller-skiing, and walking large packs of very happy dogs. This is something I really like about the Viennese. Getting outdoors and “wandering” is practically a religion here. So, I’ll cut them some slack on not ever talking (and rarely even returning a smile) to anyone else on the paths—this is something I’ll never understand, as a southerner. But whatever: at least they aren’t actually glaring at us, as the older Czechs often did.
We hiked for about 90 minutes, finishing up just as the first raindrops started to fall. My photos actually turned out OK, despite the lack of sunlight.