Prague to Vienna on Foot: A Homage to Pumpkins

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

September 30, 2014

It is our second last day on the Prague-Vienna Greenway. On this solemn day, overcast and cool, we make our way across rolling hills of corn, onions and the ever-present squash. The tidy little villages are coming more frequently, a sure sign we are approaching Vienna. It is Monday, so most of the cyclists are back at work and we have the well-developed network of cycle paths to ourselves. 

Restaurants are rare along the route, most of the communities being too small to support even a bar. Luckily, we find a pizzeria and bar in Niederkreuzstetten, and settle in for a veggie pizza and two large beers. At the table kitty-corner to ours sits a man with jean overalls and a white tee shirt with a big Canada and red flag printed across the front. He is talking German and speaking  loudly across the room to the server so we don’t engage. 

Lunch done, we head back to the trail, a small one lane road that seems to be heading nowhere in particular. But on this road to nowhere comes a small old car going in our direction and, on the pass, a husky guy leans out the window, his red Canada tee shirt in full display and asks us if we need a ride. We decline but this leads to some casual banter about Canada and his visit to Niagara Falls. He eventually pulls off on his way to we know not where on this trail-sized road. We wind our way through more farm fields, more onions, more squash and arrive at the picturesque village of Hornsburg. An award winning picturesque village, having won the gold award in the Entente Florale Europe competition several years ago. On our way through we pass the rows of neat houses and, in the open doorway of one leans Mr. Canada. Another longish chat ensues, this one focussing on his business. All those squash we have been passing over the past few days are actually pumpkins, a specialty crop in Austria. Mr. Canada, also known as Franz, is in the business of processing those pumpkins, which are apparently unique to Austria, and making pumpkin seed oil. He gives us a small bottle to take back to Canada before we head on our way, well behind schedule at this point, but it was a pleasant break and solved the mystery of what all those squash crops could possibly be used for. It makes the rest of our long 37 kilometre day more tolerable, which ends in Wolkerdorf at the pleasant Hotel Klaus im Weinviertel and an end-of-day meal featuring pumpkin soup and a pumpkin ragout. As we would expect.

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