This morning I was up before the alarm went off at 7 am. Just as we got ready for breakfast, we passed through another lock. The cruise manager had mentioned yesterday that we would be passing through 4 locks overnight on our way to Melk. Today's Daily Adventurer:
After the usual breakfast, we picked up our safety cards and our red tour cards. We boarded the red bus for the very short ride to the Melk Abbey. Our Guides today were Jennae and Stephanie. Jennae had the mic this morning and gave us a run down of the plan at the Abbey sprinkling in her trademark cow jokes along the way. The first thing I noticed when we pulled into the parking lot.....alas, no, it wasn't the gorgeous abbey - it was the Pipi box. :-D
We walked through the garden and into the first abbey courtyard where we met our tour guide who used the Quiet Vox system today. The Junior Adventurers (JAs) and the Friends of Junior Adventurers (FOJAs) were taken on a separate tour which was brilliant on the part of Disney as it really made it easier for the adults to really enjoy the....well....adult part of the abbey - the museum. We were given our tickets and proceeded into the abbey.
|JAs and FOJAs being taken on a separate tour|
|our tour guide|
We made our way through one wing of the abbey that used to be the wing where guests would stay but had since been converted into a museum. Each bedroom had a very large and ornate room heating stove. Each former bedroom was converted into a room highlighting each period of the abbey from the pre-baroque period through the later lesser garish years. As we listened to the tour guide, the abbey's very loud bell was ringing for a solid 15 minutes announcing the start of the Sunday mass.
After walking through the one wing of the abbey, we reached a room with a model of the entire abbey and our tour guide pointed out the different wings including where the monks lived and where the school was located (some 900 students went to school at the abbey). We also visited the library which was incredible but no photos were allowed. We descended the stairs from the library right down into the chapel where they were holding mass. The chapel was relatively small but just gorgeous with gold leaf everywhere. Again, we weren't allowed to take pictures during the service.
We headed out of the abbey after visiting the shop that Jennae had mentioned carried a curiously large number of alcoholic products and made our way back to the buses.
At this point, one bus headed back to the ship for the Adventurers to prepare for the 26 mile bike ride from Linz to Krems. The rest of us headed to a hotel where we were scheduled to have a Danube cultural experience.
Our first cultural experience was learning an Austrian folk dance. This was hilarious as everyone really got into it with a lot of laughing, hollering and clapping.
|our dance instructors|
Our next experience was learning about the fish in the Danube. We got to sample some smoked trout, saw them cooking some carp, and then we were given the opportunity to "catch" a carp (it was in a bucket so it wasn't too hard).
|caught a carp|
We went into the hotel and were given an apricot marmalade making demonstration where we also got to sample some of the marmalade and then we were each given a jar of marmalade to take home with us.
|apricot marmalade demonstration|
|apricot marmalade recipe|
|free samples of apricot marmalade|
Our last stop on the cultural experience tour was in a dining room where the owner explained to us the 3 types of wines typically produced in the Wachau (pronounced like "vah-kow") Valley. We got to try a glass of each type.
When we got back to the AMA Viola, it was nearly lunch time. We had a buffet along with choice of entree from the menu and the standard complimentary wine.
After lunch we had some free time before our next excursion at 3:30 pm. The bikers were on their way to Melk and the boat was headed to Melk as well. They were holding an ice cream social up on the sundeck. While Seth took a nap, I went up to the sun deck to take some pictures and blog. I'm so glad they gave us a free afternoon to cruise on the river during the day - it was just beautiful seeing the small towns including the town of Durstein where we would be hiking up to the castle.
|the Krems cathedral with the Durnstein castle in the bacckground|
When we arrived into Krems, we got our safety card and pink group card - our Guides were Katerina and Yeti but they brought onto the bus an Austrian tour guide who would be taking us up to the Durnstein Castle. The drive to Durnstein from Krems was very short. It was still a little hot but just as we had gotten off the Viola, the storm clouds moved in and it started getting cooler. The bus parked in a lot and we walked over to the town and then got on the trail going up to the castle.
We stopped a few times along the way to catch our breaths and take in the scenery. The Wachau valley was beautiful. The whole hike only took about 20 minutes but it was straight up mostly steps - maybe 1.5 miles total in length.
When we reached the castle, we were free to explore around for a little bit. The weather had cooled off significantly and we could hear thunder and see rain/lightening off in the distance. We climbed to the highest point at the castle and almost got blown away - literally.
The hike back down was easier - we took a different route that didn't involve stairs.
We returned to the city center where we had about 45 minutes to wander around. We picked up a couple of magnets and explored a little before it really started raining. Seth found some liquor and we also picked up some chocolate for Rhys. We met with the pink group and walked back to the bus for the short bus trip back to the AMA Viola.
We both showered and cleaned up then headed to dinner at 7:30 pm. The shrimp cocktail was good except for the cilantro on it but the ribeye was more of a prime rib and getting it medium rare was too cooked for me. The dessert (apricot dumpling) was quite good.
We did enjoy speaking with the 2 couples sitting next to us this evening. They were from New York and Philly - both older couples and traveling without kids. During dessert, Jennae came by to explain all of our options for tomorrow in Vienna. We will be going on the 8 an Schonbrunn Palace tour and then returning to the ship for lunch. We decided to skip the Riding School and, instead, take the shutttle to the center of Vienna to just do an afternoon on our own.
Day 5 - Melk/Krems, Austria to Vienna, Austria