Cycling across the former Iron Curtain. Austria / Hungary

The region of Austria 40 miles southeast of Vienna has some magic touch for me. It is part of where my ancestors come from, where the topology and climate change from Alpine to the Pannonic plains of Hungary.

The Lake Neusiedl strechting from Austria across the Hungarian border is at the heart of a fantastic bird wildlife national park. Off I went to circumnavigate the Lake on my bicycle.

My 125km tour around the lake started in Podersdorf (nicknamed “Podo Beach”). It is the centre of wind and kite surfing in the region.

The Lake that has a maximum depth of 6 foot over an area of 320km² is one of the very last few salt lakes in Europe.

When You cycle your way down towards the Hungarian border You come at times across herds of cattle…

…as well as sheer endless sunflower fields contrasted by a dramatic scenery of clouds.

Hard to believe that this tiny border crossing today once marked the “end” of Europe towards the Eastern Bloc.

The bicycle trail runs straight for about 2km exactly along where the former “Iron Curtain” was. A special feeling to bike along the border that once separated the free Western World from the Communist part.

There are still relicts of the old world like this telephone booth (although Deutsche Telekom came only after the fall of the Berlin Wall ?!) as well as…

…former grand villas.

A few km into Hungarian territory there is this magnificent gem of a Baroque castle. It used to be the main residence of one of Hungary`s most powerful aristocratic families, the Esterhazy`s.

The main building is surrounded by vast Baroque gardens. Although they had their heydays in the 18th und 19th century, the family still owns extensive lands around the lake.

Joseph Haydn, one the the four great Vienna Classic composers, was The Esterhazy`s “court composer”. He left a huge oevre, with famous works like “Die Schöpfung” (The Creation).

Playful fountains and waterworks were an integral part of Baroque architecture.

Finally, I well deserved a good rest in one the many vineyards around the lake with yummy local food and wine.

Cycling around the Neusiedler See was a great experience. It is a mix of fantastic scenery and landscape, history, rich culture and good local food & wine. Highly recommendable.