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Posts tagged ‘Villach’

crossing borders

I didn’t want to leave Slovenia, but there were other roads to explore and things to see.  And upon leaving Slovenia, we had the opportunity to do something I may never do again – we rode through three countries on the same day.  Granted, very small portions of each, but still…  It felt pretty novel.

Leaving Slovenia we crossed first into Italy.  With the current open border policy within EU (Schengen Agreement), moving from one country into its neighbor is not unlike moving from state to state within the US.  Old border stations are vacant, and on some of the small roads and bikeways we travelled on, it was only when you saw signage in a different language that you knew you had crossed into new land.

From the Italian border town of Tarvisio – once an important village along the ancient trade routes across the Alps to Venice –  we returned to Austria.

We would spend the next several days cycling in the Austrian state of Carinthia, and the beautiful valley of the River Drau, before heading to Lake Wörthersee.  The cycling was easy and quite enjoyable, with expansive views of the valley and the river.  Our daily routes included both paved and gravel roads, along with large stretches of the R1 – the Drau Cycleway – an easy 366km bike route that passes through the numerous towns and villages, and is very popular among both day and multi-day cycling enthusiasts.

From the city of Villach and the Drau River valley, we cycled along the Drava River and on to Lake Wörthersee and the resort town of Velden.   While it was nice to be pampered at the Schloss Velden (a Condé Nast “Hot Hotel” and spa), I found the cycling here to be rather anti-climactic, especially after our days in the Alps of Slovenia and the mountain-flanked valleys outside of Spittal en der Drau and Villach.

My favorite sight on this leg of our trip was the village and church of Maria Wörth (dating back to 875AD), situated on its own peninsula on the southern shore of Lake Wörthersee.

Our cycling sadly came to an end in Velden, but we would still have one final adventure – albeit not on our bikes.  From Austria, we would end our adventure in La Serenissima, the incredible city of Venice, a city that made her mark on me.  And this will be the last story, coming very soon…