Danube Discoveries: Day 6 (Along Lower Austria)

Our boat left Vienna (finally) at around midnight and we began our cruise to Durnstein, Lower Austria.  Durnstein is located in the Wachau River Valley and is known for being one of Austria’s most successful wine regions.  It’s a really beautiful part of the country and I wish we spent more time exploring it.  Our boat was scheduled to leave Durnstein at around noon, so the options to explore the area were quite limited.  There was either a walking tour of Durnstein and it’s monastery or a two hour bike tour through the vineyards and the valley.  Of course I chose the latter.

For some reason, this bike tour had way more attendees, at least 15 if I wasn’t mistaken.  My guess is that because it was a morning tour, which mean that it was cooler, and because it was only two hours as opposed to three or four.  Anyways, we had a larger group, which meant the speed we were biking was significantly slower.  The route was very nice.  We rode through a vineyard, on some nice hills, and even a fair bit of cobblestone (the local infrastructure has much to be desired).  As always there was a short break in the middle where we were provided with free refreshments.  The ride wasn’t very challenging but we were able to see a lot of the valley.  We returned to the boat at around lunch time and within 30 minutes, we pushed away from Durnstein to continue down to Melk.  Our ride was about four hours and we passed through some very picturesque parts of the valley.

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Melk was our next stop on the agenda, another short stop where most of the guests were attending the Melk Abbey tour, the only landmark in Melk.  The abbey was given to the Benedictine Order in 1089 and to this day continues to serve as an abbey, school and museum.  It’s known for being a pillar of Baroque architecture in the region.  Our walking tour was two hours, and I distinctly remember the abbey being fairly warm due to the lack of air conditioning but also because it was a very hot day in the afternoon.  The tour was fairly long and to be honest, I definitely blanked out through most of it.  Afterwards, we returned back to the boat, where we once again pushed off and continued our journey to Linz, Austria.

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