Thursday, June 23, 2016

Into the Waldviertel: Bärenwelt

We are, of course, supposed to be in Brittany this week. But we're not, and so Tony grudgingly returned to the office and Anna Grace and I have been amusing ourselves until we decide whether to plan another holiday.  Yesterday's amusement was a drive to visit rescued brown bears thankfully now living the good life in a sanctuary in the beautiful Waldviertel, the northwestern quarter of Lower Austria and part of the Voralpen.  

Forests, marshmallow farms, and other indications of country life made the drive entertaining.



In under two hours we reached Bärenwelt, and before long were both "Awwww-ing" at the real live Teddy Bears!  But not loudly.
The Four Paws Club opened this sanctuary in 1999 as a refuge for bears that had been mistreated in private "zoos" and "circuses" across Europe.  They now operate several sanctuaries around Germany, Austria, Romania and Bulgaria.  Currently there are 9 bears living happy bear lives here.





 The Education Center was, educational.
On the return drive we stopped at Burg Rappottenstein but missed the required tour by minutes.  Next time, because there's always a next time.
Part of venturing into the hinterlands is the recognition that any meal eaten out will almost always be Austrian. While making our way to a known (Austrian) restaurant along the route we were surprisingly compelled to stop in at this rare mecca (the drive-in part is rare; the Schnitzel, not at all), especially when we noticed that the parking lot was overflowing and every outside table was filled with diners. 
The Tagesteller (daily special) was Schnitzel mit Pommes for €4,90. Prepared-to-order crisp pork schnitzel, thin, and delicious. With apologies for the messy setting; I jostled my plate while trying to read the paper on the tray, which turned out to be a raffle for a free Schnitzel!  Who knows, we might just be returning to the Schnitzel Drive Inn...