Still drying off from my damp day in Salzburg, today we were arriving in Melk. Located in lower Austria, this little town is most known for Melk Abbey. We were heading there this morning after breakfast for a tour of the Abbey. We were told it was not to be missed.
Our guides were right! Melk Abbey is absolutely stunning. At more than a 1000 years old, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one that should not be missed! It is a Benedictine abbey in the most beautiful display of Baroque architecture you’ll likely ever lay eyes on. It is often referred to as the ‘Baroque Jewel’ of the Wachau Valley.
Upon arrival, we are told that pictures are allowed only on the exterior of the Abbey. No photos were allowed while inside in order to better preserve the sacred place.
On such a gloomy day, the Abbey stands out brilliantly with its golden yellow facade. Once inside, we were portioned off into smaller groups. As we waited we were given a brief history of the Abbey, the ‘rules’ while on the tour and a quick washroom break if needed. Once we were underway, our cameras were to be put away and we wandered through this amazing structure.
One of the most beautiful features here is the library. There are no words to describe how unbelievably stunning this room is. With more than 16,000 volumes in its main hall and over 100,000 more volumes in another private 12 rooms (not available for public viewing), this is the second most important space in the entire Abbey. I wish I was able to snap some photos of this space. It’s like nothing I have ever seen before in my life.
Our tour takes us outside again, on a terrace overlooking the Danube River and Wachau Valley. It is truly remarkable to see. The vibrant gold exterior is still quite shocking to see with the grey-ish hues from the sky behind it. The tour is slowly coming to an end. They leave us in the church, the most important space in the Abbey of course. Again, I have no photos to showcase it’s beauty. Just take my advice….GO SEE IT!
At this point, there were two cultural activities we could participate in. We opted to not do either one as we wanted to explore the little town of Melk instead. We let our ABD guide know that we would not be joining, and she happily explained how to make our way back to the AmaViola. Every morning before leaving the ship, we are given handy little maps of the town we are visiting. Melk isn’t all that large, so getting back to the water would not be a problem.
Our exploration didn’t take long. Like I said, Melk is fairly small, so we had wandered down one of its main streets filled with shops and cafes. Towering above us is the Abbey. It’s quite impressive to see it from below actually. After checking out some of the shops, we made our way back to the ship. We were all due to be back on board no later than 1230pm as we were sailing to Krems over the lunch hour.
During that sailing, we’d be seeing castles along the Danube. If you weren’t prone to motion sickness (as I am) you would enjoy the beauty of the Wachau Valley and the many castles along the riverbanks. I, unfortunately, couldn’t sit in the parlour, or above deck, due to my sense of spinning. I retired to my room for the hour while sailing.
Arriving in Krems early afternoon, there were two tours that were available to us. One was a walking gourment tour and the other a Durnstein tour. Now, we were warned that the Durnstein tour may not actually happen due to the holiday and bad weather in the area. We opted to not join that one, although many people were still taken there. The gourmet tour didn’t really tickle our fancy, so we decided to do our own walking tour of Krems.
Well didn’t this turn out to be a wasted stop. The entire town was shut up for the holidays. Apparently on the 23rd of December shops remain close so people can spend time with their families for Christmas. This is apparently a well known fact! So why did our tour include Krems in the first place? And why didn’t our guides tell us this information before setting up these walking tours. We ran into the walking gourmet tour and they were all quite upset. None of the food shops or restaurants were open. So they were just aimlessly wandering the streets of Krems. This was my biggest complaint with Adventure by Disney and our ABD guides. They should have known about this long before booking tours in towns over the holidays.
So our tour of Krems was short lived. After about an hour, dad left us to head back to the ship. Mum and I stopped in the only shop that was open to us and had a look around. We slowly made our way back to the ship. We had a big dinner ahead of us! It was mum and dad’s 40th anniversary today and we had booked the Chef’s Table to celebrate! We had also told our friends, Mary and Charlie, so they could join us as well.
Our meal was nothing less than perfect. The food was indulgent and picture perfect. While waiting between courses, the ABD guides had come in with a cake for mum and dad and congratulated them on their anniversary. It was such a lovely surprise! The evening was spent with new friends, fantastic food and drink. There couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate my mum and dad. It was a magical evening.
We parted ways for the evening, full bellied and tipsy from the dinner we just enjoyed. Tomorrow we are waking up in Vienna and it’s Christmas Eve!
Stay tuned for the world famous Lipizzan Stallions and our Christmas celebration onboard the AmaViola!
Until next time…