Emerald Waterways Danube Delights Day Four
On the morning of day four, we arrived in Melk, Austria around 7:30 in the morning. After a hearty breakfast, we were all on buses to Melk Abbey around 9am; the drive was only about 10 minutes. We were all armed with our portable receivers to hear the tour.
Melk Abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II gave one of his castles to the Benedictine monks. The monks began a monastic school and its library became famous for its extensive collection; they also were renowned for producing manuscripts. The abbey survived dissolution in the late 1700’s and also managed to survive the Napoleonic Wars. It was confiscated by the state in WWII but returned to the Benedictines after the war. Today it is also a co-ed school that caters to nearly 900 students.
Our guide was a former student of the school. We began in the large courtyard (see above, it’s the one with the fountain), and that was the last place we were allowed to take photos until we were outside again.
The tour took us down the half the length of the southern hallway through many displays until we came out to the viewing balcony overlooking the town.
Once we circled the balcony we were back indoors and circled down into the church itself. We were very lucky to hear a magnificent choir as there was a service going on as we filtered out of the abbey.
The Wachau Valley
Once back to where the ship was docked we stopped at a great little café overlooking the river, the Fährhaus Jensch, where we relaxed on the patio with a beverage until lunchtime on the ship. Some of our fellow travellers left from Melk on a bike tour to our next destination, Dürnstein, approximately 30 kilometres away (18 miles). We did not feel that adventurous and opted for the relaxing and scenic cruise through the Wachau Valley.
Along the way, we encountered Die Wachauer Nase, a sculpture that looks like a giant nose poking out of the ground. It is supposedly a compilation of local noses to find the archetypal nose of a local Wachauan. The nostrils are big enough to walk into if you so choose.
We arrived in Dürnstein around 2:30 and at 3pm we had an apricot product tasting in the Horizon Lounge. The Wachau Valley is famous for its apricots and apricot products, and rightly so. We consumed and enjoyed schnapps, jam, chutney, and chocolate covered fruit.
Dürnstein is named for the castle overlooking the town. In 1192 King Richard the Lionheart was held captive there by the Duke of Austria during the Third Crusade. Sadly, the castle was almost completely destroyed by the armies of the Swedish Empire in 1645.
At 4pm those who wanted to participate in a hiking tour up to the castle ruins gathered to go. Mike decided he wanted to, I did not. In my defence, it was a really hot day and the beer was really cold. Can you blame me?
That evening after dinner was the Crew Show, a very funny, occasionally awkward, but overall not to be missed. We wrapped up the evening with a whole lot of disco music and dancing which was quite a show unto itself.
Stay tuned for Day Five, Vienna, Austria!
Did you miss Day Three, Passau and Linz?