Leaving Vienna, I caught a cab to the airport and met my new group from Roads Scholar for a 9 day hiking trip. There are 19 of us and we all fit comfortably on a little green bus that whisked us away across the Austrian border to the Czech Republic.
Our first stop was Mikulov, an important border town on the ancient "amber road" from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic.
Afterwards, we took a tour of the city, which once had a very prominent Jewish population. When Austrian kings expelled Jews from Austria in the early 1400s, they settled here, ultimately making up half the town's population and forming the largest Jewish community in what is now the Czech Republic outside of Prague. In the 19th C, the railway line bypassed Mikulov, causing economic stagnation. Consequently, most of the Jews left, long before WW II and none live here today.
The town has been beautifully restored and has a lively main square.
Then it was a short walk to Mikulov Castle.
We walked through the wrought-iron gate and along the side of the chateau. Outside we could still see the original stone foundations of the castle but no reason to go inside - it is all new. However, the views from the top were spectacular.
We then headed to our hotel Hranicni Zamecek in Hlohovec.