Yeh, you’re right. I really stretched for that one.But despite the labored attempt at alliteration and whatever other verbal device I was shooting for, the title of this post does accurately capture my dilemma.
If you’ve been following my adventures closely (you are, aren’t you?), you know that after two days of walking in Vienna, my knee hurt like hell and I could barely walk. I had to use trekking poles to get out of bed and hobble to the bathroom. Not a good beginning to two weeks of hiking and biking!
I was ready to head back to LA and have my knee doctor (as I get older I seem to acquire a doctor for every body part) operate immediately. But after a day of email exchanges with him, the people running the hiking trip in the Czech Republic scheduled to begin the next day (REI Adventures), and those running the biking trip in Hungary the following week (Biketours.com), we came up with a plan.
The plan involved ice, Alleve, Voltaren and adjustments to the schedule of activities.
The nature of the hiking trip made it easy. It was guided, broken up into 3-4 mile morning and afternoon segments, and we had a comfortable, roomy mini-bus to convey us to the trailhead for each segment and pick us up at the end. I could just stay on the bus until my knee healed enough to get on the trail.
The biking trip was self-guided with only minimal support, so I rescheduled that trip for next year, well after I have healed from my knee replacement surgery later this year.
So, I spent the first morning sitting in a restaurant in Valtice, a Czech town in south Moravia near the border with Austria, waiting for the guide and the other hikers (in the photo, below, from left to right — Stan, Madeline, Katherine and our guide, Tomas) to show up for lunch. Our bus driver dropped them off at the trailhead …… and drove me to the restaurant where I spent the 90+ minutes they were on the trail drinking coffee, watching the other patrons, and reading a book. Not a bad way to spend a morning.
In the afternoon they hiked through the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape — a UNESCO World Heritage site created by the Dukes of Liechtenstein in the 17th Century. The site includes Baroque and neo-gothic castles and monuments and a formally designed landscape of lakes, ponds and gardens that would have made Frederick Law Olmstead salivate with envy.
I rode to the end of the trail on the bus. As I waited for the others, I walked carefully up the trail for a few hundred feet to test the knee. It was already beginning to feel much better.
Tomas, our guide, claims that there are more WHS in this area than in any other comparable place. In the late afternoon we toured one of the most impressive of all, the Chateau Valtice, a baroque castle built by the Liechtensteins in the 17th Century. Notice my leaning on the trekking pole for support. Despite that, by the next morning I felt like I could start hiking. But this was the toughest day on the six day hike, with a steep descent through loose rocks and shale, so Tomas advised against it. He was afraid that I might slip and reinjure my knee.
Instead I walked through the village where the hikers were dropped off and discovered that the village, Pavlov (no relation to the psychologist with the salivating dog) is a major destination for wine tourism. The village is quiet and looks neat, tidy, and prosperous, which I soon discover is how all of the towns and villages we visit look.
I spent several minutes on a bench in front of a church taking notes, very mellowed out, especially considering the anxiety and pain I was experiencing just a couple of days before. After an hour of this, the driver took me to the end of trail, stopping several times so I could take photos.From the end of the trail I walked for about a mile and only turned around when I reached an unmarked fork in the trail. Not sure which fork to take I turned around and headed back. There was a bench at the trial’s end with a view of golden fields, hills, and valleys where I waited for my party to emerge from the forest.
After the hike we visited the historic town of Mikulov, once the home of a thriving Jewish community. Many of the Jews that were driven out of Vienna in 1421 settled in Mikulov. At one point the Jewish community comprised over 40% of the town. The highlight of the visit was a visit to the restored synagogue and the old Jewish cemetery, an evocative and atmospheric tumble of old gravestones, trees and winding paths.The day ended with a visit to a local wine cellar for, as Tomas described it, “wine-drinking, not wine-tasting.” The proprietor, Jan, our hearty host plied us with what seemed an endless sampling of the several barrels in his cold, damp cellar that grew warmer and more comfortable the more we drank. And we drank a lot. After three hours or more of drinking – all of the wines were excellent – we stumbled the mile or so in the dark back to our hotel.
My knee felt fine. I was ready to hike.
(Note 1 – we were hosted on this trip by REI Adventures)
(Note 2 – in true blogger fashion, I am writing this post several days later from Budapest in a spacious, modern apartment in the Adina Apartment Hotel in a section of Budapest similar to the upper west side of Manhattan. I’ll be posting about Budapest as soon as I catch up with the rest of the hiking trip and our four days in Prague).