Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Lobau Island

We were delighted to discover that our hotel in Aspern was within 100 yards of the famous church, and only about a mile to Lobau Island.

Our bikes were not ready when we arrived at the hotel, so we set off to explore Lobau Island on foot. It was a very hot afternoon, and we were quite warm and glowing by the time we arrived.

We were also very pleased to find that there is a path around the island with these stone plinths to mark important aspects of the 1809 battle. Unfortunately we were not aware of this before our visit, and had not obtained a printed guide - though I am sure that one must exist.

After a couple of hours we reached the river Danube. By now were hot and very tired, and a riverside bar looked very inviting. As we approached we noticed that all of the customers seemed to be very sun bronzed and weathered. We were sitting at the bar before the truth sunk in - we were in a nudist colony!!

Poor Jan did not know where to look. We drank our beer and left in haste.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Walking Aspern and Austerlitz

The last of our battlefield walking holidays, at least to date, was in 2002 when we visited Aspern, Essling, Wagram and Austerlitz.

Our first visit to Austerlitz, in 1998, had been spoiled by bad weather. Heavy rain and muddy fields meant that though we walked the area it was not an enjoyable experience. It made us realise that a return visit would be well worth while. But we did not really feel that there was enough to do to keep us busy for a full week.

Aspern-Essling and Wagram are both near Vienna, which in turn is only a few hours drive from Austerlitz. We had never visited these battlefields, and always wanted to. So we decided to do a fly-drive to Vienna. Spend three days exploring Aspern-Essling and Wagram. Drive to Austerlitz and spend another three days exploring there.

After our first visit to Austerlitz I had all the maps I needed. On our return I had read every book I could find, and felt confident that we could explore the battlefield without any further preparation.

On our first visit we had lunch at the Post House in the middle of the battlefield, and I knew that they had excellent accommodation. So we would spend our three days there, in the same building used by the Allied headquarters before the battle and Napoleons headquarters on the night of the battle.

Aspern-Essling and Wagram were a different matter. I had never visited the area, so we would have to research from scratch. The battlefield covered a large area, and would require careful planning to find all the locations. Exploring by car would be difficult, so we decided to hire cycles.

The first blog about our visit deals with the planning, and in particular the books I used to prepare for the visit. It can be found at


Tuesday, 8 February 2011


The siege of Mantua lasted nine months and resulted in the battles of Castiglione, Caldiero, Arcola and Rivoli. The garrison finally surrendered when they received news of the battle of Rivoli.

Mantua is a lovely city to visit, but there is very little of interest for anyone exploring the siege. The one exception is the citadel. It is in a very run down part of the city and quite difficult to find. It is here that Andreas Hoffer was executed in 1810, and there is a small plaque near the gate to mark the spot.

This was the last Italian battlefield we visited, and you can read about it here


Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Not one of the biggest or most important of Napoleonic battles, but one of the best known due to Bonaparte's feat of bravery when he grapped a falled flag and led the attack across the bridge. The attack failed, but the incident went down in history.

Arcola is one of the easiest battlefields to visit and explore. The bridge is new, but is in the same location as the one fought over in 1796. It is dominated by a large monument, which can be seen for miles in the flat area surrounding the battlefield.

The dike road used by the French to approach the bridge still runs from Ronco, and can be followed with ease.

I imagine that the area looks much the same, though less marshy than it was then. I suspect that the river is not as wide, because it looked quite fordable when we visited the area. Yet in 1796 the French repeatedly attacked across the bridge for three days. Had it been possible to ford the river surely they would have done so.

More photos of our visit at