Sat - Sep 14
Up at our normal 6:30. Sky still cloudy, but no rain, and occasional open spots where the light shines through, but by 9am it's obvious there won't be sun soon enough so we're off to Melk in the Wachau Valley , about 2-1/2 hours away, to see the Abbey.
The Melk Abbey is one of Europe's great sights. It was established as a Benedictine Abbey in the 11th century, and rebuilt in the 18th after a fire destroyed it. It's a Baroque structure now, the restoration financed partly by the sale of the Abbey's Guttenberg Bible to Yale. The restoration was completed in 1996 to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the first mention of a country named Austria.
One of the most impressive rooms is the Library. This is a large room covered floor to ceiling and on all the walls, with shelves full of books. The monks were the elite of their time.
We had a small snack at the garden, and then left for Durnstein, a small charming village along the Danube.
Durnstein is built on a hill, with a historic church (which one doesn't have a historic church!), ruins that were the castle where Richard the Lion Hearted was imprisoned in 1193, and ramparts that also overlook the Danube. On top of all this are the old town walls that used to protect its inhabitants, though they are only viewable in spots.
As with all the villages along the Danube in the Wachau Valley, there are vineyards and wine producers everywhere, and everyone is selling Schnaps, wines and marmalades, and the ubiquitous Apricot jams and drinks.
After Durnstein we left for our final stop, Weissenkirchen a small village just 3 km from Durnstein . We had asked for a suite at the hotel and on arrival the proprietress told us their suite, actually they have one, is in its own building, near and overlooking the Danube. It is more like a small apartment that sits in a building that houses an antiques dealer's place and which they have rented for the season. An unusual layout fits in bedroom and dining room in one large room, kitchen in another with the shower and sink at a far end, and the bathroom and another sink in another room. There are views out two sides, both to the Danube. It also came with its own private patio and parking space.
We went out then and walked the village. For a small village this place has tons of restaurants and hotels, indicative of its location in a very tourist bound area. It's just a few kilometers from both Melk and Durnstein, and even Krems up from Durnstein, so the area can use all the hotels it can fit in. One thing we've noticed all over the area are the number of people riding bikes! They are everywhere and this area is great for biking.
We ate dinner on a terrace overlooking a vineyard. Mike, as usual, fish, a grilled Pike with potatoes and vegetables and a small salad, and Karen a Pork Loin with a cream sauce, with green beans and potato croquettes. Two different wines from the area, suggested by the waiter, and finally coffee and an apricot cake. Apricots are a staple of the area.
Then back to get ready for tomorrow, repack stuff we won't need on the trip into Vienna, and work on the blog. There is no Internet at the suite so we'll go to the main hotel after we've written it up to upload. The weather turned very warm with mixture of clouds and sun in the afternoon. Looks like we'll need our short sleeve tops again when we get to Vienna tomorrow.
As it turned out the hotel was closed! when I went to upload so you're seeing this on Sunday from the Hilton Vienna.
More later when we end Sunday's story.