Today we visited Melk Abby. It is an active Benedictine Monastery, but the monks don’t come out for tourists, only for work and prayer, so we didn’t see them. We saw a big room that used to be a dining room and a huge library that looked like it was from a Harry Potter movie. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to make pictures inside.
We also toured wine country and saw the ancient village of Durnstein. It was interesting as there were ruins of an old castle as well as a small village with narrow, cobblestone streets and little shops. Unfortunately, As soon as we got off the bus, the local tour guide took off like a gazelle and I had no idea where he went.
I finally caught up and I spoke with him about slowing down. After that, he would stop once in a while for people to catch up. I came closer to falling down than at any other time on the entire trip when Morris cut in front of me and I tripped over his foot. I still don’t know how I managed to catch myself.
We walked up Main Street and down a valley into a courtyard in front of a pretty old baroque church. The steeple was painted blue and white, blue for the Virgin Mary and white for heavenly clouds, per the local guide. It is supposed to be the only blue and white steeple in Austria.
Next, the tour herd went up a steep alley with crooked cobblestones and large terraced steps. For the first time I balked and refused to go. The guide said they were coming back to the same area in 45 minutes, so why hurt myself?
Eventually, they all came back and we went into a courtyard then into a wine “cellar”. I always thought “cellars” were below ground level, but this one was up a few steps. One good thing about these historic old places is most of them have installed a modern convenience called a “banister.”
The cellar was set up with long tables like a beer hall except with wine glasses. A local resident gave a talk about wines produced by his family, mostly white but they also produced red wine. Then, the good part, we were given a taste.
Wine #1 was apple smelling and had a peppery after taste. It burned and I thought it must have a high percentage of alcohol.
Wine #2 was also white and supposedly had an apricot taste.
Wine #3 was red. It was the smoothest wine I’ve ever tasted, no burn or after taste.
The red wine supposedly had been hard to develop and hard to grow as most ground was devoted to the more popular white wines of the vicinity. The grape terraces were on hillsides as well as on flat land and were supposedly four times as hard to harvest on the terraced land as it must be done by hand.
That evening we went to an optional orchestra concert at a concert hall in Vienna. I chose this because it was a “sit down” event; however, it turned out to be more beautiful that I could have imagined. It was one of the best things we did on the entire trip.
The orchestra played classical music, mostly Strauss, but some Mozart and other composers. It was sort of a mix of opera singers, ballet and well-known classical music. I couldn’t believe I was at a concert in Vienna, Austria, the place where Strauss once directed his orchestra. This was the one and only time we heard the Blue Danube Waltz played on the entire Blue Danube trip.