Sipping my coffee in the shadow of Colditz castle that morning I calculated that with a favourable wind I could be in Vienna by early evening. Time to unpack and reacquaint myself with old friends and Wiener Schnitzels. BMW workshop on Saturday. Away to Hungary on Monday. Perfect.
The clouds cleared as I crossed the border to the Czech Republic. Watery sunshine at last. I made a beeline for Prague and felt slightly guilty viewing it from the ring road. In the rush hour. On a Friday. Just before a holiday weekend. Progress was slow.... Local bikers dived through closing gaps in the traffic but I still felt W-I-D-E with my squeaky-clean, unscratched Touratech aluminium panniers. But, hey, I looked the part.
I had hoped to join the River Danube late afternoon, sip a chilled glass of Gruener Veltliner at a 'heuriger' ( simple restaurant attached to a vineyard) but, due to my delayed escape from Colditz the sun was already low. I swept through the beautiful Wachau region to Krems and pressed on to Vienna.
Why is it that distance stretches out in the last hours of a day? Darkness fell as I neared the capital but drawing on my er, extensive knowledge of the layout of Vienna, I was soon greeting Martin, an old friend, who'd kindly said I could stay in his apartment. If I could get in it. Martin is a hoarder.
Plan A - 'a swiftly changed starter motor and on'...was not on. BMW Wien was closed on Saturday. And Sunday. Monday was a holiday. So, Sightseeing it was.
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It was an emotionally charged visit to Vienna as I'd lived here for six years with my late wife, Julie. How was I going to feel? The 'emotionally charged' story continues...Click on MORE (below)
Vienna. A magnificent city. In a wonderful location. So close to so many exciting places.
Tired of England and its weather, we'd visited friends in Vienna in 1993 and decided that Central Europe was calling again (Julie and myself had met while working in Munich). Real weather...Hot summers and 'Bier gartens'...snowy winters and Christmas markets...
In the spring of 1994 we moved into a 200m2 apartment complete with chandeliers and floor to ceiling double doors between each room and set off on the 'Road to Financial ruin'.... (Forthcoming book?). We had a wonderful, unforgettable six years full of Highs and Lows - Regrets? I 'ave none.
It was with a mind full of these memories that I joined the tourists that flow around Vienna in the summer months. Over the following days I flowed with them, around the sights, a little half hearted - a little heavy hearted. We'd spent many an hour with each other, with friends and with family in this wonderful city. The Schoenbrunn Palace was always on the guided tour. Happy Days. Cue the 'Blue Danube'....
I shall visit this city again but at that time I was keen to leave for Hungary. I'd been to Budapest but never any further East. That was what I was longing for. The open plains leading to Romania and Transylvania. Names that conjured up dark mountains shrouded in mist...impenetrable pine forests...and, of course, Dracula. The sun is setting, I must leave you nowwww.......
With only two episodes of the 'Road to Kathmandu' to complete (the concise version) I was suddenly presented with a possibility to exhibit my work. As I had none, barring the episodes you see before you, I hastily dug my 'On the Road' painting kit out and put these two watercolours together.
One shows the haunting fortress in Eastern Turkey, the Ishak Pasa Sarayi, Dogubayzit and the other is a scene from the legendary Karakoram Highway in Pakistan. Both based (loosely) on photographs and drawings made on the road and both representing 'spiritual' moments on my trip. I reckon they've worked out well and now plan to do a whole series - Inshallah....
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