Prague to Vienna on Foot: Crossing Borders

A series of posts following David and Gail as they walk 480 kilometers from Prague to Vienna in 2014.

September 29, 2014

The next two days of walking would take us from Mikulov and across the Czech-Austrian border. Leaving Mikulov, we continued on our Cold War signálka roads towards Valtice. This part of the road is lined with a number of plaques describing the Iron Curtain, various escape attempts and the consequential deaths. Unfortunately the text is only in German and Czech but inferences could be made from the many archival photos. Adding to the drama of the story were the pop-pop-pop of blasts going off all around us, attempts by farmers to fend off hungry birds from eating their ripe grapes.

The Austrian border was equally solemn with its deserted pre-EU buildings, gates and guard posts, save for a closed Iron Curtain Museum in the midst of what is now a visual no-man’s land. Now you just walk past all these deteriorating structures and into another country. Austria itself was, quite naturally not that much different in terms of landscape and agriculture. There were not a lot of old buildings, a consequence of war, I would guess. And the vineyards are more dominant than in the Czech Republic as they continuously roll over the gentle hills and off to the horizon. Another, more immediately noticeable difference is how the prices for our basic needs – food, beer and hotels –  has skyrocketed, just by crossing an imaginary line. 

Our first night was spent in the small village of Herrnbaumgarten, an easy 22 kilometre walk on a dreary overcast day. We woke to a cool but sunny day as we headed for our next night’s rest stop at Mistelbach. Long at almost 35 kilometres, it was the more charming of the two days with a good mix of ripe grapes to try out, scenery to behold and curiosities to hold our interest. Like an installation art piece remotely located on one of the paths, a series of clothes drying racks with pinned socks and a washing machine mounted on a pedestal in the centre of the piece.     

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