Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Viking's Grand European River Cruise: Melk & Krems, Austria

Viking River Cruise, Day 11:  Melk & Krems, Austria (Facebook collage)
(click any collage to enlarge)

I'll tell you right now from the get-go that this day is divided into 3 parts, starting after breakfast and ending before dinner.  Another full day!

The main excursion of the day was the Melk Abbey, after docking in Melk, Austria...a town of 5K+ population...while we were eating breakfast.  By 9:30 a.m. we were raring to go.

 And YES, we awakened to snow!

It was a short walk from the ship to our buses...with the Abbey already in view from the ship.

This is what Melk is known for:  the Benedictine Melk Abbey, founded in 1089.

The golden yellow against the white snow was a fairytale.

Sitting high up on the hilltop, the views to the town below are spectactular.

I am such a fan of archways and long corridors like this, both inside and out.
Part of the Abbey is a school for approx. 900 students, and I can picture walking these halls every day!

Our guide took us through several rooms, including the Green Room, the Abbey museum....

...the Marble Hall with its magnificant ceiling paintings...
and the library (where taking pictures was sadly prohibited).
Then it was down the famous spiral staircase from the library to the church.

Upon entering the Abbey church, we were then on our own to explore at will.

And to just stare!

I pictured myself as a student there, going to chapel every morning!
Don't you wonder how such an environment affects school kids!
And on that note...we left the Abbey and headed down the hill to the town.

It was an easy walk down, surprisingly.
The Abbey was visible from the town square as we looked back up.

What a sweet little town.

See what I mean?

And that little church we first saw from the Abbey...was open!
It was the last thing we saw before heading back to the boat...(and as of yet has no name!).

But it forever sits in the shadow on the Abbey up above, our last views...

...before crossing the brige to meet up with our boat, waiting for us on the Danube.
It was time for lunch!  We had worked up an appetite.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Part 2 of the day happened after lunch when we cruised through the Wachau Valley.

On that freezing cold day, yes, we went up to the sunroof.
It sure beat running back-n-forth across the lounge to see the sights.
THIS is what I expected Austria to look like!  

  These were some of the churches we saw along the way...and vineyards, too.

And castles!  All in the span of 1.5 hours.  I don't think we could have lasted longer.

It so happens this valley is between Melk (think Abbey, our morning stop) and Krems, our afternoon stop.
It's 40 km (25 miles) in length and perfect for a scenic tour, no matter how cold!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And now Part 3, Krems...or as you're about to see, it's neighbor, Stein.  It's a funny story, actually.  We were on our own to explore the city any way we wanted until suppertime...about 2.5 hours....

As plain as day, the sign said Krems.
Unbeknownst to us, we were supposed to turn right and walk about a mile to city center.
Instead, we turned left and within minutes were in THIS wee town...which we found out later, after the fact...
was Stein.  Kinda like a suburb?  A neighborhood of Krems, Wiki says.

 But there was method to our madness, you see.
From the boat we could see the high tower of this Frauenbergkirche.
Wouldn't YOU assume that was where we were supposed to go??!! 

Apparently this was St. Michael's church from 1081 but was desecrated in 1785
and restored 1963-1965 as a war memorial.  

Right next door is the St. Nikolaus Church.  Look at how close here.

Did you know St. Nikolaus is the patron saint of sailors?
This church is from 1400, hopefully helping sailors ever since...a short walk from the Danube.

We are gluttons for these small towns in Europe so close to the main rivers.

Did I mention it was the Tuesday before Easter, March 26?

 I don't remember seeing a single soul--or not more than a handful--that late afternoon.
(Everyone else must have been in Krems!)
But we sure got an eye-ful, and that was enough before heading back to the boat.

It was the only cruise day in which we made TWO stops.
And totally worth them both! 


  1. I would have done the same if I were on that cruise, but currently sitting in my armchair under a throw blanket, I am so in awe of you going out in that freezing weather! I was alternating between gasps of amazement from the beautiful sights to shivers from how cold it appeared to be. But you gotta sieze the day and you and Astrid are professionals at that for sure!

    1. HA! You really nailed it, Mad. :) But there was no way we were gonna miss those sights! Carpe diem...indeed. Thank you.

  2. Ingrid & Ginnie were the brave ones on the top deck. I'd say 99.5% of us were below. Drinking hot chocolate!!! (Some were drinking "other" things.) Hot chocolate was always available at no extra charge.

    Ginnie, did you notice in Krems that on the "main building" where we boarded the bus, the markings on the side showed flood lines & dates?

    1. Astrid and I were definitely two of a handful up on top deck, Lynda. Crazy ladies always have fun, you know. :D And didn't we all love that hot chocolate any time we wanted it!!!

      It was in Melk that we saw the high-water marks on the building across from the buses. YES. I have a couple pics of it in my 3rd collage from the top. Unbelievable!

      Anyway, thank you for stopping by again. Little by little it's all getting done. HA! I'm working on Vienna now. :)

  3. It was cold but great. Melk has a beautiful Abby, with lots of fabulous decorations. The snow did add to the feeling of being in Austria.
    Who would have thought, we often said to each other, it might snow during the cruise, and it did :)
    Being outside on the deck was a wonderful feeling, the landscape passing by, is a great experience.
    I love these small cities, they are so gezellig.
    Thank you again for making this post, another day has gone by, but will be in our remembrance.

    1. The snow was a FABULOUS addition to the cruise, MLMA, especially in Austria. I started on Vienna today and, yup, more snow. I love it! And the thing is, we always knew we could go somewhere to get warm. :)

      I love that we have all these memories to keep sharing...even after the fact. Thank you.

  4. First thing I thought - Ginnie got her snow. I think you are going to have to come visit here in winter. We can give you snow. What sights you saw. I loved the Marble Hall in the Abbey with the paintings and staircase. Such ornate work everywhere through Europe. I appreciate you bringing it to us with hart and soul.

    1. HA! Going to PEI for snow would definitely be a treat, Mary! More than you realize. :) And yes, everywhere I go throughout Europe makes me "short of eyse." My hart and soul really ARE here and I love that you can tell it. Thank you.

  5. Beautiful, but very cold looking, magical place! Love the Marble Hall & the pretty, smaller church ... even though the Abbey is so very impressive!
    And how can you not appreciate those "wrong" turns? You girls sure experienced alot on this adventure!

    1. Before the cruise we had talked about the possibility of having snow, especially in Austria, and were not disappointed, Susan. The one thing we loved was not having leaves on the trees yet, because it allowed us to see so much more of everything. We were happy campers, even though it WAS cold much of the time. Not having rain while we were out-n-about was the more important thing to us.

      And yes, taking the "wrong" turn can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered. :) Thank you for understanding. :)

  6. The Abbey is stunning, a jaw dropper.

  7. i don't know how much this cruise cost, but it sure is worth it. there's so many beautiful things to see and quaint charming towns to explore, not to mention the churches, oh my.

    1. Well, it's pretty expensive (a relative word, I know), but remember that we got it at 2 for the price of one because of booking 18 months beforehand. Otherwise we couldn't have done it. Definitely worth it, in our book.