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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Active in Winter: Fun Travel Tips around Hotel Althof Retz in Lower Austria.

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!

Genussfreuden im Retzerland: Morgendliche Nordic Walking Tour mit dem Chef des Hauses, Ortskenner und Lokalpatriot Markus Hann.

Checking out what’s on offer: Nordic Walking with our man of the house, Markus Hann of the Hotel Althof Retz.

 

Wenig später hat sich die Landschaft dank des Schneefalls in eine wunderbare, weiße Winterdecke gehüllt … Coffee to go, heißt es da!

Coffee to go in the country around Retz!

 

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.

Hinab in die Keller von Retz ...

Down into the cellars of Retz …

 

… zur Essenz der Weinlagerung ...

… and to the essence of wine growing …

 

… und dem bis weit über die Grenzen der Stadt hinausreichenden, unterirdischen Kellernetzwerk: Diese Röhre hier misst allein weit über100 Meter!

… as well as right into a network of cellars that spans many kilometres below the city: This vault here alone is well over 100 metres long!

 

Seltsame Skulpturen, in den weichen Ursand gegraben ...

Strange sculptures, dug into the sand …

 

… geben Zeugnis ab von vergangenen Zeiten und Dingen, die sich bis heute nicht geändert haben ...

… a testimony to times gone by, and things that really haven’t changed.

 

Gespannt lauschen wir der Führung durch die Keller ...

Listening in on our tour, “warmed” by the constant temperature of 10°C in the cellars during winter …

 

… beim "Auftauchen" sind wir dran: Prost mit gut gefülltem Wein aus Retz!

… we are happy about resurfacing straight in one of the area’s famous wine shops and cellars!

 

Vom Retzer Erlebniskeller ...

From the “Retzer Erlebniskeller” wine cellars of Retz …

 

… geht es übrigens direkt ins Hotel Althof Retz, zu dem wir unterirdisch über den Stadtplatz von Retz gelangen. Schon ein bisschen lustig ...

… we take straight to the Hotel Althof Retz, which offers a cellar connection to the vast subterranean city cellar network – and access to many a wine bottle for tasting …

 

… geht's beim Heurigen allemal so zu.

… enjoy your meal at the typical Heurigen wine bar here!

 

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.”

Sagt und spricht unser Gastgeber in der Windmühle von Retz, der uns dieses frisch gebackene Brot seiner Frau serviert- mit gemahlenem Korn aus der Mühle von Retz !!

Such are the words of our local host at the windmill of Retz, who after the short tour invites us to taste this fresh bread, made from wheat milled at the very wind mill we are at !!

 

Das Brot, dessen warmer, nussiger Geschmack mir noch jetzt auf der Zunge liegt, ist wie Ihr Euch denken könnt einfach köstlich ...

The bread, let me tell you, is really worth the walk up there …

 

… die Windmühle Retz ...

… to the wind mill in Retz …

 

… ein echtes Erlebnis.

… a real place of a kind.

 

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.

Lohnendes Ausflugsziel vom Hotel Althof Retz aus: Burg & Stadt Hardegg im Weinviertel ...

Worth your while: Just a 15 minutes drive from Hotel Althof Retz, the city of Hardegg welcomes you …

 

… auch und gerade jetzt zur Winterszeit.

… also or especially now, during winter.

 

Der Blick über die Thaya ...

The view across the Thaya river …

 

… schwingt sich auf bis zur mächtigen Burg Hardegg ...

… reaches up all the way to Hardegg Castle …

 

… sowie danieder über die Brücke nach Tschechien: In Einheit wagen auch wir den Weg in der Eiseskälte an diesem Januarmorgen.

… as well as over the bridge to the Czech Republic: Here we are, in our symbolic modern-day embrace of peace that has finally taken hold here.

 

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.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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