Sunday, July 03, 2016

Sailing the Danube's Wachau Valley Toward Melk

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Our ship was to cast off anchor for Melk sometime after midnight so as to accommodate the folks who were taking in a concert in town.  We admitted to being a bit fagged after two major walking tours and took a pass on the music in favor of an early sack time.  It was a good decision because I woke up early enough to spend some time up top where the Wachau Valley was sliding silently by. Ahead of us, some 650 feet above the river,  magnificent Gottweig Monastery was just catching the rays of the early morning sun.

Get the old telephoto out and you have one of my favorite shots of the entire trip.

From there for the rest of the morning it was tiny towns with impressive churches, hills covered with vineyards, and old castle ruins.

We didn't stop in Durnstein

but on the cliffs above was perched the ruins of Kuenringer Castle where Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner on his return from the 3rd Crusade.

Also in Durnstein, right along the shore, was an unusual blue baroque style.  

Patches of open areas between the towns sometimes had open spaces where campers could cozy up to the water.

But mainly it was the peaceful river with some new quiet beauty around each bend.

The vineyards sometimes climbed gently but often they precipitously snaked their way up the hillsides.

You can easily forget that the Danube remains a working river and is plied by cargo carriers of all kinds. The owners often live on board yet carry the means to travel off the water with them.

At some towns like Spitz, where there are no bridges, you can catch a small ferry to the other side. 

Many of these small towns have their own protective castle on the hills above. In Spitz it is Hinterhaus Castle

Here's another rocky outcropping that holds Schonbuhel Castle

The original fortification was built over 1100 years ago, but this iteration dates from the 19th century.

Shortly we will be approaching our mooring at Melk, which we will explore right after lunch


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