Quite incredible how much we can succumb to our modern “creature comforts”. Once we are at our wine spa hotel, the recently renovated Hotel Althof Retz, we find we just don’t want to leave again. VinoSpa … Wellness delights … Foodie adventures. I must stop, or I’ll want to go back straight away. Still, Lower Austria being my home, the wine city Retz is never too far away from Krems here really. But anyway. Let me tell you all the pretty reasons that will make you want to explore the area even around the fanciest of modern-day spa hotels.
Pure Outdoors: For the enthusiastically inclined!
Getting up at half past seven in the morning, only to do a one-hour Nordic Walking trail in the icy air of the New Year in Retz? Seriously? Well, yes. My dear friend & fellow “Reisebloggerin” Gudrun and I did go, enjoying the fresh breakfast afterwards even more. In the afternoon, our bodies wake up again to a thing called “Coffee to go”: Coffee, Angelika’s dog, is “WiederUnterwegs” (“Moving Again”, the name of Angelika’s blog in German) on a walk with us. Her dog is the perfect excuse to ditch the comforts of our wine spa hotel for an hour of fresh walking in this winter wonderland. And, ah, jumping straight back to the sauna afterwards. Brrr! We haven’t really renounced our creature comforts, after all!
Pure Wine: From the cellars of Retz straight into the Hotel Althof Retz. Because here in Retz …
… “you can only get lost below ground. Not above ground”, our local city guide muses. In his broad Weinviertel dialect, he takes us on a vivid history-journey of one of the most traditional wine towns of Austria, whose grape elixirs have made it to the Russian Emperors in St. Petersburg and whose cellars were to be used for airplane hangars by the German Luftwaffe. Apart from the latter, most local endeavors were actually crowned by success. Even today, wine from Retz is known well across the borders of the city, the gently rolling wine hills of the surrounding countryside giving testimony to its proud merchant history. “Taste this … And this one is especially good”, our city guide insists on just about any wine we are being served after our tour through the wine cellars of Retz. “Prost!”, is all I can say.
Pure wind: The local wind mill is among the last of its kind. Fully functional, we are still able to taste the fruit of its labour today.
From the warm waters of the VinoSpa wine spa, high above the rooftops of Retz, our view reaches far up to the wind mill of Retz by the Hotel Althof Retz. The cold air adds to clearing our minds, as we ask ourselves, daydreaming: “Who were the people living here in past times? What were they like? And how did they manage to survive, given they had no modern Infinity Spa Pool to relax in …?” (That might be a bit decadent. But still. Just saying.)
“It is thanks to the wine, that the millers here have always been able to survive and keep their crafts going. Retz has always been kinda special.”
Pure nature: Especially now during wintertime, the country around Retz is worth your while. Take a visit of Hardegg for example, Austria’s smallest town …
… with just a few houses to look over, really. But there are one or two things really special about Hardegg: It sits right by the cross-border national park Thayatal-Podyji, to start with. Now, in winter, the cold with temperatures well below zero, paints the trees with lots of beautiful, white ice crystals, above which Hardegg Castle rises – straight out of a fairy tale. Huge and impressive, it towers over the city it protects. Hardly anyone to be seen here, out in the cold. Peace reigns a former battlefield: Today’s Thaya bridge actually reunifies Austria and the Czech Republic, once separated by the so-called Iron Curtain that ran throughout Europe – and Hardegg. As we cross the bridge in our symbolic embrace, the crunching snow beneath our feet is the only noise we can hear. Just. Magical.
Want to know even more about the local Weinviertel area as well as the Hotel Althof Retz? Head over to my Flickr photo gallery and click yourself through a really nice piece of home for me – right here in Lower Austria!
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Hotel Althof Retz in order to enjoy Retz and explore the local area surroundings. All opinions are my own.