An unplanned weekend lay ahead of me…
…and I don’t really like that much. I like to have plans and I prefer to be on the go. And when, on a Thursday evening in July last year, I was thinking about what I could do that weekend, it struck me: of course! I could cycle the second part of the Alpe Adria Cycle Path. I must admit, the first part from Salzburg to Villach really surprised and inspired me at the same time. And that’s exactly why I was curious about the second part. I immediately called our bike logistician and asked whether we happened to have a rental bike in Villach that hadn’t been picked up yet. When he answered yes, I knew it was meant to be! So I packed up my saddle bag once again, bought a train ticket to Villach online and was happy about my idea for the weekend.
Spontaneous ideas are often the best ones
The next day, shortly before noon, I arrived in the city I’d left a few weeks ago when I cycled the first part of the Alpe Adria Cycle Path. The difference: this time I was travelling alone and that weather was really good for me. Villach showed its sunniest side. The rental bike was quickly located and so, a short time after hopping off the train, I cycled along the Drau, leaving Villach behind. The Karawanken soon offered me a spectacular scene. I have to say I was really impressed. It is incredible how interesting mountains can make a landscape. After a few kilometres I passed the border to Italy. It’s a great feeling when you cycle from one country to the next, even if it only took a few kilometres to get there. The total of 35 kilometres to Tarvisio was cycled very quickly and of course I couldn’t help but stroll through the famous leather market of Tarvisio, which is known far beyond the borders of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
It was probably not a good idea to pay a visit to the leather market. Because I had fallen in love with a leather jacket, which unfortunately didn’t fit in my saddle bag. With my head still at the market, I cycled further south. And what should I say? With these views, my jacket was quickly forgotten. Here I cycled on one of the most spectacular cycle paths I had ever seen. The cycle path ran along an old, disused railway line on the left side, above the valley. You could let the bike run nicely because the path went slightly downhill. So I was able to really take in the area. The steep mountain peaks of the Carnic Alps impressed me a lot. Then I came to a snow-white riverbed through which a river of turquoise-green water meandered. I was completely amazed. But it was a long day, and I was looking for my bed for the night in Ospop near Venzone around 6pm. I was very tired.
Food like grandma makes
You can imagine your stomach rumbling after such a day. I like to eat well, especially in Italy. And when I saw the friendly old face that was smiling at me from the kitchen, I knew immediately: this is the place for me because grandma cooks herself! And that’s never wrong! When I was served a plate full of delicious, homemade pasta with a glass of excellent wine, I was completely satisfied and looking forward to cosy bed and of course the next day!
Heading further south
When I hopped on my bike the next day, I quickly noticed two things. On the one hand, I noticed the vegetation and landscape became more Mediterranean and Italian. What a nice feeling. On the other hand, I noticed the wine I had drunk last night must have come from the area because I saw a lot of vineyards. But not only the vineyards made this landscape so beautiful – blooming sunflower fields, old fig trees along the way and gentle hills created a quiet harmony that I observed and allowed me to release a contented sigh. In Udine I took a short break with a freshly brewed espresso and a crispy, warm focaccia. I could eat all day in Italy, don’t you feel the same? Udine is a real eye-catcher! I actually knew this city from passing through, but was never conscious of it. With its many small squares and typical narrow streets, Udine made a wonderful impression on me and I put this city on my list of places I definitely want to visit again.
At the finish line
From Udine on it got flat and I knew I was on the home straight. I cycled past nice villages and lots of fields. But before I reached Grado, I really wanted to visit Aquileia – a small town with archaeological sites from the Roman times. That was a spectacular end for me. And when I treated myself to a wonderfully sweet melon at the entrance to the excavation site, I was already thinking about what I could eat that evening. The last few kilometres were only a stone’s throw – suddenly the sea was in front of me. I stopped for a moment and let the atmosphere of the water with the many screeching seagulls sink in. It is always a nice feeling when you reach your goal. I already knew the delightful seaside resort of Grado. I like Grado. With the many small restaurants, hotels and houses in the Imperial and Royal style and of course the kilometre-long sandy beach, Grado is one of my favourite places for a weekend trip. And of course, I didn’t miss the chance to relax for a few hours on the beach before heading home! The perfect end to an unforgettable weekend on the Alpe Adria Cycle Path.
Vanessa Bräumann, Travel specialist & Team lead assistant