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Arrive. Revive. For some time, the Austrian National Tourist Board used this slogan to describe the feeling of arriving in Austria. Recently, I have felt just the same when travelling near the border to the Czech Republic, past the wine town of Retz, and into Thayatal National Park: Arrive. Revive. Taking that deep, wonderful, fresh breath of air …
… especially coming from Vienna: The gently rolling hills of the Weinviertel district, their green lush borders with vineyards and fields all help to turn the short trip from the capital city into a welcoming journey. Up north, where Austria meets the Czech Republic, you can find a unique natural landscape called the “Green Corridor“, formerly known as the infamous “Iron Curtain” but now fortunately more known for its many nature protection virtues.
And this, my dear readers, is worthy of some news, which is what I learn during the short film being shown about those particular cats: Our common cat as we know it, is in no way a descendant of the cats I see here at their Thayatal National park enclosure, but a descendant of its North African (Egyptian) relative to the south. The so-called “European Wild Cat”, whose relatives have again been seen in Thayatal national park, are of a different build, which even an untrained eye like me can see after a close-up study. Wonderful. A trip this way is therefore calling all cat lovers in just the same way, as nature lovers in general!
After a quick chat, Birgit and I choose an easy hike of about six kilometres along the river Thaya, which can also be walked as a loop trail leading all the way back to the national park office. Right past Hardegg, the small town of just under 100 (!) inhabitants which is more like a medieval village, we are embraced by the sights & sounds of nature: Down the river, national park ranger Birgit and I walk in the shade of the Thayatal riverside forests, several open meadows and across two steep hills, which have formed inside river loops. They both offer excellent viewpoints, and a better grasp at just how much nature protection was inadvertently encouraged by the former “Iron Curtain” that ran here, a political border only few ever attempted to cross for decades.
For many centuries, if not millennia, the Thaya river has carved its river bed pretty deep into the granite and gneiss highlands of the Wald- and Weinviertel, a fact I notice on my way to several viewpoints high above the river valley. Thanks to the “Turbo, Sport & Power” circuits of the e-bike engine on my bike, however, I’m always relaxed and not as sweaty-finished as my fellow cyclists around me – a wonderful feeling for recreational riders like me, who simply do not take to cycling as a sport as such. You can rent your own e-bike for just € 21,- per day from the national park office in Hardegg: I did a 32km loop from Hardegg and across into Czech Republic (Cizov and Vranov), and back via Felling and Hardegg in just over two hours – photo stops and short breaks to take in the natural landscape around me included. Glorious. The curious and often jealous glances of the other cyclists battling those climbs were a bonus of that trip for me!
And you, when will you come up to visit the smallest of all Austrian national parks? Maybe we’ll meet there, too: I myself would also like to go back soon, as it was one fab nature weekend for sure!
More information about the National Park Thayatal, as well as all #NationalparksAustria, can be found here. Together with me, some of my friends & fellow travel bloggers have also reported on the occasion of the “European Day of the Parks” about all other, remaining national parks in Austria: Read more about their trips here:
More travel pics from my trip into Thayatal national park:
Disclaimer: We have been invited by the National Parks of Austria, to travel into one of the Austrian national parks (Thayatal, in my case). All opinions are my own.