Göttweig Abbey and the Wachau Valley

Today was a traveling day. After our morning shore excursion, we spent all afternoon and evening on the boat, sailing through the region on the Danube between Krems and Melk known as the Wachau, and then heading toward Passau, Germany.

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Göttweig Abbey

Our morning excursion was a visit to the beautiful Göttweig Abbey. It’s a 900-year-old Benedictine monastery, high up on a mountain, overlooking the Wachau valley. The original abbey burned but was rebuilt in the early 18th century. We were greeted by our tour guide and served a sparkling apricot wine which I gladly accepted figuring it was five o’clock somewhere. The wine is one of the many products of the abbey’s orchards and vineyards that the monks make and sell. After an introductory video, we were taken on a walking tour. The imperial wing of the abbey is impressive, featuring a spectacular grand staircase in the baroque style, surrounded by statues and a ceiling fresco by Paul Troger.

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The library at Göttweig Abbey

The abbey also houses a huge library that was, unfortunately, not open to the public, but I took a picture of a picture of it. I love libraries and I wish I could actually walk into this one. We also visited the abbey church where we admired another huge pipe organ. It’s too bad we weren’t here for Mass on Sunday when we would have heard it played.

After the tour, we were treated to a wine tasting, with the option to purchase some, of course. We tasted a red (Stift Göttweig), a Riesling, and another white the name of which I cannot remember. We decided to buy a bottle of the red, and we’ll save it to enjoy with our son when he comes home for Christmas.

Back on the boat, we spent the afternoon sailing and half listening to commentary over the ship’s PA system by our Program Director, Boris. I took that opportunity to get in some steps on the walking track on the sun deck, hoping that bucking the wind would burn off some of the extra calories I’ve been consuming. As I walked, I watched castles and terraced vineyards pass by. We had Austrian Tea Time later and apple strudel was served. I managed to resist and had only a small bite of Paul’s. It was delicious.

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Passing through a lock

On our journey to Passau, we passed under bridges and through at least one lock (there may have been others in the night that I missed). Passing through the lock was cool, although a bit claustrophobic. We watched it from the lounge in the bow of the boat so we had a good view of the whole procedure.

After dinner, we returned to the lounge for the evening’s entertainment, a music trivia contest. Paul and I did pretty well, but we didn’t get bonus points for dancing, so other teams beat us. Today reminded me why I’ve never really had any desire to do an ocean cruise. There’s definitely a cruise culture that I just can’t get into. As hard as the staff works to keep people entertained while we’re traveling from port to port, I get bored easily. I much prefer the shore excursions and cultural activities.

Tomorrow we dock at Passau for a tour in the morning and then Bavarian Beerfest!

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