Wednesday April 23rd ~ Austria – Another very long and scenic day…
Now we are talking! This was one of the first places that we have fallen in love with as soon as we walked off the boat. A tiny little village sitting on the bank of the Danube River, cozy family owned shops, ivy covered walls, vineyards cover the sloping hills and a fortress sits high on the hill guarding over the town.
Known for their apricot products: jams, local wines, candles, scented oils, lotion and candies.
Dürnstein means “dry stone” in German. The castle Burgruine Dürnstein (fortress) is best known as the place where King Richard the Lionhearted was kept captive back in 1192. His mother paid a huge ransom equivalent to three years income of the entirety of England for his release, almost bankrupting the country.
Now the castle is little more than a shell, but stands overshadowing the village and river below. On the bank of the river is a five-star hotel (unusual to find in a tiny place like this) that hosted Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed when they were still trying to keep a low profile and escape from the paparazzi.
At the end of the village is a quaint graveyard with individual flower planters on top of each grave; all but one neatly tended to. The bodies are buried for a certain amount of time and then exhumed, the bones washed, sorted and then stacked inside an underground storeroom. The stacked bones are on display by walking down a few short steps and peering through a metal gate. Sitting above the boneyard is a barren chapel.
Walking slowly back to the boat, we spotted steps down to the water. Always searching for another photo opportunity, I ventured down, snapped a couple of shots and walked back up. We had noticed a mallard duck and hen swimming not far from us. For some reason unknown to me, Tim started making whistling, shushing sounds (can’t even begin to describe it) and to my amazement the two ducks swam to shore, walked up the steps and stopped right at his feet. I’m married to a newer version of Dr. Doolittle!
For anyone that knows my hubby he ALWAYS has food on him. He reached in a bag and pulled out a small piece of a sweet role and shared it with them. It was one of those special moments that I was so happy to have been there to witness.
Experiencing this delightful village also got us pondering some of our travel plans. We think we would really love to rent a car and just explore at a slow pace, stopping off in little villages and towns, finding a B&B or room to rent and staying until we are ready to move on. More discussions to follow I’m sure…
Back on board we were blessed with sunshine as we cruised down the Danube to view brilliant green rolling hills, more picturesque villages, vineyards, and the occasional castle. Sitting up on the sun deck, we soaked it all in.
“The Wachau (German pronunciation: [vaˈxaʊ]) is an Austrian valley with a picturesque landscape formed by the Danube river. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Lower Austria, located midway between the towns of Melk and Krems ... It is 40 kilometres (25 mi) in length and was already settled in prehistoric times…” ~ Wikipedia
The scenic valley was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Here are a few shots I took along the way:
Now this is what river cruising is supposed to be all about! Oops, spoke too soon.
Well, it poured all through lunch. Tim was still trying to get over his cold, so we decided it made sense to stay on board where it was warm and dry. As luck would have it, about 20 minutes after our Gate 1 tour bus left for a tour of Melk and a visit to the Abbey, the sun came out and it was beautiful once again.
Soooooo, we decided to walk into town to see whatever. A short 10 minutes later we entered the main part of the town and found our way up the hill to the Melk Benedictine Abbey.
We had missed the tour, but we were able to see the exterior, the entryway, go up on to a balcony for views of the gardens and visit the interactive museum. I was disappointed in not seeing the library and chapel, as the pictures on the Internet are impressive. I’m still glad we got to see what we did.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that Tim is feeling better. As much as we love to travel and explore new places, it is not as much fun for anyone when you are under the weather.