I love being outside, and Vienna gives me lots of beautiful reasons to get outdoors and explore. Since I’ve seen a lot of the city most immediately around where we live (although, as I learned last week, there’s still plenty more to find) I’m always looking for new places to check out. That can be tricky, though, since I’m usually exploring with at least one child (and typically a stroller) and I almost always have a fairly tight time limit. It’s much easier to be relaxed about exploring a new place when you aren’t worried that a wrong turn (which might tack an hour onto your trip) will ruin your schedule for the day, and it can be really daunting to enthusiastically venture out only to discover that my chosen destination is completely stroller unfriendly.
Today, Benjamin had a field trip for school, which meant he wouldn’t need to be picked up until after 3:00, so I had time for a bit of adventure. I started looking around online and found a paved hiking trail noted as “pram friendly” by the Vienna Babies Club, and best of all, it is located right in an area I’ve been wanting to visit. Vienna is known for its wine culture. Vineyards and heurige (wine taverns) are a long standing part of the culture here, and I’ve wanted to check out some of the hillside views of the vineyards since before we moved here. The walk I found (City Hiking Path 1) winds through and above the rolling hills of some of the vineyards north of Vienna.
This morning, Liam and I set out to explore. We left early, before it got too hot, and took the 38 tram from Schottentor (right by our house) all the way out to Grinzing. I looked all around online, and couldn’t find a good description of how to reach the hiking trail from the center of Grinzing, so I just looked it up on Google Maps, and it didn’t seem too bad — just 2 long blocks (or so) from the center of town to join up with the path. No problem.
Turns out, though, that the first block was STRAIGHT UPHILL. I’m not really exaggerating all that much. It was reminiscent of San Francisco — that kind of hill. Yikes. But, I trudged up the hill, with its cobblestoned sidewalks, pushing my now sleeping child, only to find that the second block was made of . . . . stairs. Steep, stone stairs, right back down. Below me, at the bottom of the hill, I could see the trail, but I couldn’t get to it. So, I pulled up Google Maps again, and went for plan B.
I didn’t have to go back down the hill (which was good — I at least felt like I’d accomplished SOMETHING) but I had to walk all through a residential neighborhood to go back around to meet up with the trail. I failed twice more (once due to more stairs, once due to a street with lots of traffic and no sidewalks) to meet up with trail, but finally (almost 40 minutes later) I managed it. Whew.
Once I found the right place, it was beautiful. The path wound between the backs of the vineyards (the properties mostly back up to each other, it seems). The track was wide and paved (if a little steep in places) — perfect for walking with a stroller (or jogging, or biking). Some of the vineyards we passed were small, just backyards converted for growing grapes, and some were massive farms that disappeared over the crest of the hill. I saw some beautiful views, a few gorgeous houses, and I really got a feeling of being out in the country (while still in Vienna). It was pretty much exactly what I was hoping it would be.
But, after my 40 minute hike TO the trail, I was tired, it was getting hot, and the walk was pretty much entirely uphill.
And, since vineyards are pretty much just big farms that grow grapes, it was pretty isolated.
During the course of my walk, I only passed about 6-8 people, and they were all men. It took me a while, but that started to seem weird to me. I’m used to running in to all sorts of people when I’m out walking — men and women, young and old. People are always out walking their dogs, jogging, pushing strollers, out with their families. After about 20 minutes, I started to feel my distance from civilization and my rusty US-born self-preservation instinct kicked in. I turned around.
As soon as I headed back, I passed 3 women — one walking (alone), one jogging (alone) and one blind woman (white cane and all) walking with her two dogs. I think I was being a little paranoid (but I really was in the middle of nowhere, and I trust those instincts, even if they get a lot less exercise here).
With my lessons learned from my overly long trip to the trail,l I managed to make it back to Grinzing in less than 15 minutes (but how did it manage to be mostly uphill on the way back, too?!?). My walk ended up a bit longer than I’d intended, but it was still a success. The path itself was great, and definitely stroller friendly. I wasn’t able to find a really easy way to get to the trail with the stroller, though.
(For anyone trying to reach City Hiking Trail 1 from Grinzing with a stroller, I recommend taking Langackergasse east away from the center of Grinzing. Take your first major left on to Schreiberweg and your first right onto Arlethgasse. Right now, the sidewalks on Arlethgasse are under construction, but it’s a quiet street with little traffic. At the end of Arlethgasse, turn right onto Unterer Schreibergasse — the street ends almost immediately, but there’s a paved path at the end that slopes downwards and will bypass the lower part of Langeckergasse which is impassable with a stroller due to steep stairs on one side, no sidewalk on the other and very fast traffic on a very narrow road. The path will take you to Kahlenberger Strasse. Turn left and follow it to Wildgrubgasse. At the corner of Kahlenberger and Wildgrubgasse, you’re actually on the City Hiking Trail, but to get to the good views, turn left on Wildgrubgasse and continue past the Friedhof Heiligenstadt.)
For myself, in the future, I’ll keep looking for another path. This one was pretty, but I think I’ll save it for the weekends when I have Dan with me, or at least, the rest of Vienna out exploring the countryside.