While in Vienna we planned a side trip to Melk Abbey and of a Danube River boat cruise from Krems to Melk followed by a 24-mile bike ride back to Krems.
Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river. The site originally served as the castle residence of the Babenbergs, who ruled Austria from 976 to 1101 when the Hapsburgs took over. The castle and surrounding lands were given in 1111 to the huge Benedictine abbey of Melk (founded in 1089), which dominates the city.
Although I rarely use other individual's photographs in blogs, this aerial view of the Abbey was so impressive and shows the entire complex.
The entire Abbey exterior is painted in a rich yellow gold color.
The main building at the entrance.
The inner courtyard.
The courtyard overlooking the valley below.
The Abbey Church is one of the most beautiful church interiors I have ever seen. Taking pictures in the church is prohibited but I found an authorized photo that I've posted to give you can get a glimpse of the magnificent interior.
The grounds included beautiful gardens.
Great view of the river valley taken from the gardens.
Our attempt at being artsy?
After the tour and walking around the gardens, we headed into the village and grabbed a coffee and pastry.
What great views from the village.
We stayed overnight in a small village by Krems. It was very quaint and had lots of vineyards surrounding the village.
Danube River Cruise from Krems to Melk and then return by bike to Krems
After overnighting in the area, we had a full-day planned that involved a Danube River cruise from Krems to Melk and then a 24-mile bike ride back to Krems.
Part 1: Danube River Cruise
Let's just start off by saying that finding where the ship departed was one challenge and parking the car was another. By the time we found the port there wasn't much time to rent bikes and buy boat tickets. I jumped out to buy the tickets and then ran to the bike rental shop. After a struggle, I was able to get the bikes. Dave showed up a few minutes before we needed to board. It had taken him forever to find a parking spot and then when he did the meters were only in German so he couldn't figure out the instructions. Oh, he forgot to set the parking brake and the car began to roll backwards in the parking lot when he was trying to figure out the parking meter. Luckily he was able to quickly get back in the car and hit the brakes! In the end it all worked out without damage to the car but he did deposit enough money for us to park for a few days. Who cares ... we made the boat.
It was a warm late morning departure from Kremas and a leisurely 3 hour cruise.
The Wachau Valley is an Austrian region near the Danube River, west of Vienna. It was quickly apparent that the valley is famous for its rolling hills, vineyards, and fortresses.
Time to chill with a beer after the stressful start to today!
What a great way to see the countryside.
One of the most impressive stops along the way, the town of Duerstin, came early in the ride. The Durnstein Abbey was established in 1410 and the present complex was built starting in 1710. The monastery with its blue tower is the landmark of the Wachau Valley. After Emperor Joseph II dissolved the monastery in 1788 as part of his religious reforms but later became part of the Augustinian order.
The castle on the hill was built in the 12th century. The castle became famous as the prison of King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart). On his return from the Third Crusade, he was captured and imprisoned by Duke Leopold V of Austria of the House of Babenberg. He was held from December 1192 until his extradition to Emperor Henry VI in March 1193.
Iconic views of the villages along the river.
The Castle of Hinterhaus near Spitz dates back to the 12th century.
Schoenbuehel Castle stands 130 feet above the bank of the Danube atop a rock thought once to have supported a Roman fortress.
Dave chowing down the last of the food before the boat docked.
Part 2: Biking Along the Danube
After the relaxing cruise, we began the 25 mile/40 km bike trail back to Krems.
Aside from a couple of slightly inland treks, most of the trail was riding along the beautiful Danube shoreline and fruit orchards that lined the river. We stopped across from the Durnstein Abbey, enjoyed a beer, and cooled our feet off at a small beach. What a great day away from the crowds after spending so much time in Vienna.
Cycling through some of the local vineyards.
Quaint villages along the bike trail.
The four-meter high concrete nose, which officially opens in 2014 and was immediately condemned by local officials as offensive. The huge 'schnozz' is intended to be part of a giant who is sleeping buried beneath the earth in the beautiful Wachau valley region. Of course Dave wanted to stop for a picture.
Aggstein Castle dates located high in the hills above the Danube back to the 12th century although most of what is visible dates to the 1420s when significant renovations were completed.
Time for a beer and cooling off in the Danube.
Approaching Krems and the end of our bike ride.
Bikes returned so now time to drive back to Vienna.