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Melk and Durenstein

Day 10

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We awoke this morning docked in Melk, Austria. The plan this morning was to go tour the renowned Melk Abbey. We had an early breakfast and boarded coaches to take us the short distance from the boat up the hill to the abbey.
From the outside, the abbey is stunning. It is huge and set high above the town of Melk.026A5198-4071-482F-A3C3-0A171976778B.jpeg01866CA0-6583-4129-BCAC-6C7968427489.jpegF9F95008-6906-4D33-B9F9-7836E352BC73.jpeg We entered the main courtyard and were set up with guides for the tour. The abbey was originally founded in 1089 by Benedictine monks. The current baroque structure of the abbey comes from the 1700’s. Today the abbey only has 23 monks in residence. The abbey does have a school with 800 students. Our guide took us into the interior of the abbey and began our tour. We learned a lot about the abbey and the political figures of Austria during its time. We were given lots of information including being shown a reusable coffin. Apparently one of the Hapsburgs decided to save money and came up with the idea of reusable coffins in mass graves. We then entered the main dining room known as the Marble Hall. It was large with a frescoed domed ceiling. Our guide explained to us that the ceiling was actually flat and painted to look domed to give the illusion that it was higher. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t see how it was a flat ceiling. I’d need a ladder to climb up for a closer look. The tour then continued to the immense library of the abbey. It contains about 80 000 books. You have to be a very special person to have the privilege of reading one of them though. Finally we entered the church, which is opulent beyond belief. A huge gold gilded altar. A 65m domed ceiling. Stunning was the only word I could think of.DB248D83-4DC3-4314-96C1-729E27E27059.jpeg After our guided tour, we explored the abbey’s gardens. BB7CD37D-0F2C-4469-B9E1-425E9B84037B.jpegThey are nice and afford amazing views of the Wachau Valley. large_AAA99937-65B6-42F0-B9BF-0D8DE21D5943.jpeglarge_0975D2F4-397E-4E88-811E-557BC9FA6479.jpegFinally we walked through the town and back to the boat. Since we still had time before departure, we went for a long walk along the river.
We departed Melk as we were having lunch and sailed down through the beautiful Wachau Valley. We passed castles and steeply terraced vineyards. It was a beautiful trip.C0FD2E33-53EC-4A0E-90FD-CA26BC653639.jpegDDBA2104-C3CD-442A-B6E3-A4B9C35F52C9.jpeg
After sailing for a couple of hours, we docked in the tiny town of Durnsein.large_3842BA3C-1248-4080-8BCB-168D10C9606A.jpeg We had our choice of exploring the town or a strenuous guided tour up to Durnstein Castle. We decided that the exercise would do us good, so joined the hiking group. We quickly climbed out of the town and were soon on a trail that alternated between rough stairs and a rocky trail. 59BFE646-69B1-4447-A93D-2A735534B9DF.jpegIt was a nice day and we were soon shedding our sweaters. We climbed for about 45 minutes to reach the ruins of the castle. Very little of the castle remains, but great views of the valley.5DC1C0E1-8966-42E4-8924-A410D6627A37.jpegC3160C43-6571-4B03-BDC4-147F03F1DDF7.jpegLegend has it that Richard the Lionheart was captured here on his way back from the crusades and held here until his ransom could be arranged. Our guide told us that was highly unlikely that he was held in the castle, more likely down in the town. After stopping for a breather and some pictures, we returned to Durnstein. Our guide had told us about the wine of the region so we stopped for a glass at an outdoor bar. We then returned to the boat for departure and dinner. Vienna is the next stop.

Posted by Basebrown 15:20 Archived in Austria

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