River Cruise Day 6

River Cruise Day 6    Durnstein and Melk           Mostly Sunny, cool at first, then warm

 We woke in time to see the boat docking at Durnstein.  After another tasty breakfast, we went on a walking tour of the lovely little village of Durnstein.  We walked along the tow path, stopping at a vineyard so that the guide could show us the grapes growing and allow us to pick fresh grapes from the vines, before continuing on up a small hill to the village, past the former monastery, which is now an Abbey because it has no monks.  We continued our walk with our guide pointing out interesting things and giving us the history of the village.  High above the village stands the ruins of a castle where Richard the Lionheart was held captive from 1192 to 1193 after being captured during his return from the Third Crusade.

We continued to the end of the main street (the only street, really) where we had a magnificent view out over part of the Wachau valley with the Danube sparkling in the sunshine.

We were given some free time to further explore the village – do some shopping – and then it was time to head back to the boat.

Once back on board, we were all invited up to the Sky Deck for a commentary by or Tour Director, Gusta, as the boat travelled through the most beautiful countryside, called the Wachau valley – some 30 miles long.  The scenery was just stunning and we have taken many photos!!

The hills on either side of the river were covered in vineyards with small villages dotted along the banks of the river.  We saw rocky outcrops, castle ruins, forests, orchards and in each village, a church steeple.

We had lunch, completed our blog update and photos from yesterday and got organised for our excursion to the Abbey in Melk.

The boat tied up early afternoon and we headed off to the Abbey, which is situated high on a hill overlooking the town of Melk.  Buses collected us and took us to the top of the hill, where we walked a short distance to the Abbey.

The Abbey is run by the Benedictine Monks and has survived through the centuries because it has always placed a lot of importance on educating the young people of the area.  Today, there are over 900 students in a private school section of the Abbey. 

We were taken for a guided tour through a part of the Abbey – the museum and the library.  Richard was not impressed with what we had seen in the Abbey because it was hard not to compare it to other similar places we have been where the displays have provided a more detailed account of their history.  Perhaps, had we been able to see other areas within the Abbey, we may have a better understanding.

The view from the Abbey Terrace was breathtaking – it looks over the Wachau Valley, the Danube River and the surrounding countryside.

We decided to take the 20 minute walk back down through the town of Melk, looking at the shops and cafes along the way (and having an ice cream) and back to the boat.  Along the way, we found a spot with a spectacular view back up to the Abbey!

While we were having dinner tonight, we went through two more locks – much smaller than the previous ones.

So, we have enjoyed today – the Wachau Valley was a beautiful and fascinating part of Austria.

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