Melk Abbey, Wachau Valley, Duernstein & Vienna

Trip Start Jun 21, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2012

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Thursday, July 5, 2012

We sailed all night long and docked at a little town called Melk. They have an active abbey there. Interesting that abbey is a gender-neutral term and an abbey can have men or women in it. Guess the term for women is a convent or a nunnery and men is monastery? Didn't know that. Anyway this abbey had men. Only about 30 or so now, but a beautiful place. They got their money by taxes and making and selling beer in the old days . They say they made strong beer to get them through lent when they couldn't eat anything. Interesting. Some beautiful things inside but particularly of note was the library. They said if you read one book a day, it would take you 300 years to read everything in the library. Truly beautiful.

After the abbey tour it was back on board and a narration by Dragan, our Cruise Director for the next two hours through the most beautiful and castle-filled valley on the Danube. The Wachau Valley had some great scenery. You can't really explain it, and even though we took pictures, I don't think they do it justice. Beautiful scenery.

We pulled into a little town called Duernstein and had an hour walking tour of that beautiful little town where they make wine and grow apricots for apricot brandy. Tried a sample....burned all the way down.

Back to the ship and I went on about a 20 mile bike ride. One excursion option. Sandy declined. Beautiful scenery, but hot...96 degrees. At least there was a cool breeze. Got my exercise.

Back on board and after dinner, a crew talent show. What can I say...not sure any of them are destined for Hollywood.

We sailed all night. Up early and off on a tour of Vienna, Austria. We had been here 38 years ago, but remembered very little about it. Afterwards Sandy and I stopped at a small cafe called Demel. They make beautiful things out of cakes and icing. Had an entire wedding dress made of marzipan. Had a coffeecake and "Coke Light."

Back to the ship for lunch and then afterwards, a tour of the Schoenbrunn Imperial Palace and bakery. The palace, we remembered being at 38 years ago. Beautiful grounds including fountains, gardens, a hedge maze and countless other beautiful things. Great tour, but a bit hot 100 degrees today. The Palace was built for the Hapsburgs and (Maria Theresa and her husband) as a summer living quarters. They had 12 kids including the youngest, Marie Antoinette of French Revolution and guillotine fame.

After the tour, we had a great demonstration of how to make the famous Austrian Apple Strudel. Very well done. And tasty too. Tasted like Mom's apple pie! That was a fun event.

Back to the ship for dinner, and heading to Bratslavia, Slokakia tonight.

One more thing....buddy of mine wrote me..."sounds like you're having fun....when you're not giving out free iPads and iPhones!!!" LOL!!! I knew I'd be able to laugh at it sooner or later.

All the best!

Dave & Sandy
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