I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I cycled up the very long steep hill to my host norbert's house. "It used to be a tree, and now it's a house" he said. As I struggled to push by bike up the steep gravel path, a shaggy haired smiling man came out too meet me. His eyes opened wide as he saw the size of my bags...
His house was actually a lot more homely than I thought. A simple but well made wooden hut. The view though was something else. Peering over the trees you have a birds eye view of the whole of Vienna.
What was planned to be just two days has turned out to be a whole week enjoying the city and the quite hill. I even found a bicycle workshop and did some repairs. Although after lots of indecision I ended up not changing the part that I probably needed to most. So another pit stop might be required soon.
Norbert invited me to go away 'camping' with him to an alternative community place in the country. So we packed ourselves up, the two of us and norbert's beautiful golden retriever aptly called 'ginger.' It ended up not to be camping at all, as we stayed with some friends of his sleeping in their fathers art studio.
I am learning to cast my assumptions aside and just enjoy the differences and life experience of other people. "You must feel it in your head, and heart..." The old lady said as she poked me rather forcefully in my forehead and then in my chest. "You are one... Be heeled" She was very concerned about my hey fever ( which actually, was quite bad as I'd forgotten my tablets) and wanted to heel me as a gift over breakfast. I wasn't exactly sure what to make of it. And also whether I should accept such a thing. But as I looked into her big eyes and wrinkled smiling face, I thought to myself who am I to refuse such an act of love.
The rest of the day consisted of collecting herbs for healing on the top of the hill. It did make me laugh though as we rustled through the long grasses in the fields, my nose running and eyes streaming as the dust from the field filled the air. This really isn't working... The next day I took my tablets which was much more effective.
The best part of the day was learning to hunt for mushrooms. I have always wanted to have a go. And often wondered as I passed mushrooms in the forest if they were good for eating. As I scavenged for mushrooms the others hunted blueberries (which were much easier to find) I came back with a hat full of little of little yellow ones and two big white one's "these are great..." Norbert said pointing to the hat, "these are very poisonous, you'll be sick in bed for a week if you eat those" pointing to the other two. Good to know I thought to myself. Quickly throwing them away.
Dinner was mushroom and potato soup, followed by yogurt and blueberries... And it was good!
So now we are back in vienna my bike is packed up once again and I am ready to make my way south to the sea. I am a little daunted by the mountains ahead, but I have a couple of days on the flat before they begin. Norbert has helped me plot a route avoiding the worst of the hills. So I head south east into Hungary. And then loop back a little south into Croatia and over the mountains.