Vienna with pictures

October 27 and 28, 2019

We went from Prague to Vienna by train, Railjet, which is a fast train. It took us 4 hours and 10 minutes and we had good wi-fi aboard. The railway station was beautiful! I even watched a movie – but also watched the beautiful countryside as we traveled.


We stayed at the Hilton Vienna Plaza which was located very close to all of the beautiful museums and historical sights. Here’s the view from our window!


It was a beautiful day, so we went out walking right away. Here are some of the sights we saw.


We walked to the Jewish Museum where we saw this impressive memorial dedicated to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were exterminated during the Holocaust.IMG_6394IMG_6395

We visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral which is the tallest structure in Vienna and is simply spectacular. Over 3 million people a year visit here.


The original church was built in 1147. Several fires and bombings led to reconstruction over the years.The multicolored roof tiles were replaced after a fire and add a very different artistic element to the church. Here are some pictures of the inside.


We continued our walk, had dinner at the Opera restaurant across from the gorgeous opera house, and headed toward the Kursalon for a concert.


The concert featured selections from Mozart, Strauss and others.  There were voice and ballet performances as part of the concert.  Photos during the performance were prohibited inside of the Kursalon, but here are some of the outside and inside of the building.  It was built in 1865-1867 in the Italian Renaissance style.  Strauss earned his title as the “Waltz King” here and there is a golden statue of him outside the building.


Of course, before the concert, we had to have the famous Sachertorte! Good thing we shared it – delicious but very rich.


A terrific first day.

On our second day in Vienna, we had booked a NY Times Journey called “Vienna: Historical Food, Wine and Coffee Tour”. Their tours are based on the NY Times 36 hours series.

To see the actual specifics of the tour (which we HIGHLY recommend), you can click here.

We walked to the meeting place and were met by our two guides for the tour, Patrick and Wolfgang. They asked why we chose this tour and then told us we were the first two people to book it – and would be the only ones on the tour!  They do other tours for Urban Adventures but this was the first NY Times Journey tour.  They have been trying to work with the NY Times and it finally happened.


It was the best day!  For one thing, we had individual attention all day.  It was supposed to be a 3 hour tour and it lasted almost 5 hours. Wolfgang is on the left and Patrick on the right in the picture below.  They were outstanding.


We had a stop at Daniel Moser, a coffee cafe, and the owner gave me a lesson on making the specialty coffees.  Then we got to enjoy them.  Wolfgang told us how coffee and wine bars are gathering places in the neighborhoods where people can stay as long as they want and are never pressured to order more.  Lots of great conversations happen over coffee.  On November 1, all public establishments will be non smoking – and there were still people smoking here.

What fun to learn how to make these drinks and they were delicious too!


And of course I liked the sign between the restrooms!IMG_6468

From there we went on to the synagogue in the Jewish quarter where we almost didn’t get in because we didn’t know we needed our passports.  Luckily the guard knew Wolfgang and Daniel and our driver’s licenses were sufficient.  Lots of security including armed guards around the synagogue.

We had a long talk by a guide in the synagogue – lots of  information and context for the building and its history.IMG_6476 

The Stadtempel is the main synagogue in Vienna.  It is huge and beautiful.  It was never destroyed in the war during Kristalnacht (when all of the other 93 synagogues and prayer houses in Vienna were destroyed) because it is in the midst of other houses (and does not look any different from them) and also there was an old church nearby and the Nazis were afraid to burn it because the church and other buildings would burn too.  People took the scrolls out and hid them before the synagogue was entered by the Nazis.

We did get to see the beautiful doors behind which the scrolls are kept today.


Our tour was a walking tour and we did a LOT of walking! Next we visited the only kosher winery in Vienna.  The owner is a former mechanical engineer who sold his company intending to retire but found that he missed people too much and so he ended up buying a wine store!  We had both white and red wines and discussed the preparation of the wines with him.


Daniel and Wolfgang took us to a restaurant where they did the ordering for us.  We had Viennese specialties – wonderful!


After lunch we went to Naschmarkt where Patrick introduced us to wonderful chocolate at Zotter.  I could not believe the incredible variety.  The picture shows only about 1/3 of them. We tasted two kinds and some kids kept coming to sample too! And of course, we bought some too.


Then we regretfully had to say goodbye to Wolfgang and Patrick.  Later they sent us an email with all kinds of information since we will be coming back to Vienna when we are on the riverboat.

We chose another concert with Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss selections at Palais Schonborn.  The same soprano singer from the night before was part of this concert too.  The orchestra was smaller but equally wonderful. Again, no pictures during the performance were allowed.


Wolfgang recommended a restaurant called Zum Schwarzen Kameel – The Black Camel, so we went there for dinner after the concert.  We sat outside and had a great evening.


A few other pictures from this beautiful city.


The next stop on our trip is Budapest.  We will take the train there – about a 2 hour trip.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, October | 1 Comment

Mainz, Germany

November 11, 2019

We sailed through the last 2 of the 66 locks today and will leave the Main River and spend the rest of our cruise on the Rhine River. The part we will be on until we reach Cologne does not have any locks. It is pretty chilly and the leaves are still nicely colored but we are watching the world pass by from inside. First of all for a lot of the trip on the canal, the bridges are too low for anyone to be on the sun deck, and also it is too cold. We did use the hot tub before the deck was closed off.

Today Gabor gave the talk on Mainz and Jessie did a talk on European Architecture through the ages which was just fascinating. We have seen so many of the buildings that she referenced in her slides. She also gave a handout that covers most of the styles with examples.

We arrived in Mainz after lunch. In the morning on the ship they did the traditional Fruhshoppen which is sausage and beer In the morning. Lots of people went to that but we chose not to!!

Mainz is a bigger town than the last few (220,000 people) and it took a bit of walking to get to the main area. Lots to see, though. There happened to be a carnival festival in town and there was a bandstand with music and young people in all sorts of costumes on the streets and near the concert stage.

Mainz is known for being the birthplace and lifelong home of Gutenberg, the celebrated inventor and father of modern printing. We could see inside some of the museum but because it was Monday, it was closed. Two of his original 1452 bibles are on display in the museum, will have to see those next time!

We visited the Mainz Cathedral which is built of sandstone and has 6 towers. The first stone was laid in 975 and it was consecrated in 1009!

The St. Stephen’s Church has beautiful stained glass windows designed by Chagall, the only church in Germany that has them.

There are two interesting towers that remain here and we saw both the wood tower and the iron tower.

We also had tried a delicious sugared pastry that was shaped like a pretzel. The bakeries here are hard to pass by. The wine is excellent too, and this area is the center of the wine industry.

I have to say the beautiful towns here sort of seem like a fantasy world, each one is more charming than the last. We only have 2 more days to go and it will be hard to leave, but it has been wonderful. We would highly recommend Riviera.

My plan is to repost each of these blogs with the pictures inserted when I get home so that you can see the things I am describing.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Miltenberg, Germany

November 10, 2019

Arrived in Miltenburg this afternoon after passing through areas of beautiful vineyards. We walked through the streets where grapevines encircle many houses.

This is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval towns. Lots of flooding has occurred here. It is on the Santiago de Compostella route, evidenced by the marker with the scallop symbol. Rathaus would be the town hall not a house for rats. Oh wait, politicians gather here so..

We visited churches, town gates and a Jewish cemetery before it got dark. The market square is remarkable and is surrounded by beautiful half timbered buildings. By the time we got back to the ship it was dark but an easy nice walk back and nicely lit up.

Again, because it was Sunday most things were closed, just a few coffee shops and bakeries were open. But we wouldn’t have missed walking in this town for anything. We keep thinking they can’t get any more charming, and this was among the most wonderful. Many of the buildings have placques that date them to the 16th century!

Tomorrow we will be in Mainz then on to Rudesheim. We will leave the Main River and start the Rhine River section.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, November | Leave a comment

Wertheim, Germany

November 10, 2019

We arrived here early and could see the town as we had our breakfast. Jessie was taking us on a walking tour at 9:30 and she advised that it would be cold. It didn’t really seem that much colder than the crisp fall days we have been having, but we are always dressed for it.

We are spending But the morning here, at 11:30 we will depart and head for our afternoon destination, Miltenberg. I will do a short posting about that town separately.

Since it is Sunday, almost everything is closed, but it is a very attractive medieval town with many half timbered houses, and in fact, the only one painted with blue in all of Germany! It is called the Blue House and the color comes from using blue glass fragments. We saw the narrowest house in Franconia and also a half timbered house that was being renovated so we could see what is behind the walls.

The church bells were ringing long and loud and we could hear organ music coming from the church. We saw some of the same chalk markings on the houses that were evident in other towns, the Catholic blessing. The Protestant Collegiate Church is particularly interesting . It was built in 1383 and has two clocks on its tower. The one facing the castle has an hour hand only, while the one facing the town is a full clock. Outside the church is the Angel’s fountain made of red sandstone. It has two little angels holding the town’s coat of arms.

Lots of buildings have high water flood markings on them. This town has both the Main River and the Tauber River flowing by and it is the reason for the flooding here.

We did stop into the beautiful glass shop that was open. There is also a famous glass museum but it is closed today.

We made the big climb up to the Wertheim Castle on our own as Jessie’s tour was only about 40 minutes long. This castle was the original fortress that was built in the 12th century and is one of the largest and most beautiful castle ruins in Germany. It was partially destroyed by a powder explosion in 1619 and was heavily fired on in the Thirty Years War. It was fun to climb higher and higher into the castle ruins and the views of the town and the rivers was really something.

We got back to the ship just in time for sailing, then lunch and to enjoy the daytime sail to our next stop. The fall colors are still very nice and are seeing castles, towns, herons, swans, ducks and of course are passing through some locks.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Wurzburg, Germany

November 9, 2019

Yesterday was a full day so I didn’t even get a post written! We arrived here more than 5 hours early, again, minimal river traffic so we made good time. Our tours weren’t going to start until 1 PM, so we asked Jessie what we might explore in the morning. We walked all through the town and then, based on her advice, we went to the Wurzburger Residenz for the 11 AM tour in English. What a bonus that turned out to be! It was built to compete with Versailles, and it is pretty spectacular. Unfortunately no pictures are allowed there, but Reinhold, our guide, told us we could ask “Mr. Google!” The beautiful staircase is something to see and above it on the ceiling there is a depiction of the (in the 1700’s) 4 known continents painted in frescoes. We were glad to have a guide for explanations. In the White Room, the entire room is covered in sculptures and the whole room was completed by the sculptor in 9 months!!. Amazing.

Much of the Residenz which was commissioned by the Prince Bishop Johann Philipp when the fortress residence was not grand enough for him!

The town was 90% destroyed in March of 1945 by a fire bombing, but the staircase and some other parts of the complex survived.

Here are 60 churches in the town and we visited the main one, the Wurzburg Cathedral which is consecrated to St. Killian. It is one of the 5 largest Roman Catholic Churches in Germany. This area was the site of the Thirty Years War where more than 900 “witches” were accused and burned.

We learned that most of the roofs are the red type seen everywhere here. If you see black, it is slate which was rare and expensive back then, so it means that the building was of great importance. The churches were very important and very ornate in most cases. The cathedral here is an interesting combination of old style and new and there is a Jewish menorah as you enter, symbolizing the Old Testament. By the way, St. Killian, who is revered here, was born in Ireland and is the patron saint of rheumatism. The things you learn when you have a great guide!

It didn’t mention that on yesterday’s hike, we were on part of the Santiago de Compostela, the Way of St. James. If we had continued we would have had to hike 1000 km. to Spain where the pilgrimage ends. We saw that place in our travels previously. The route is marked by the scallop shell symbol. Sabine was our guide on that hike and she was great too.

Our guide, Stephanie, told us that the city has about 135,000 residents and 50,000 students. Medicine is one of the main focuses in the University here.

We ended the city tour on the Old Main Bridge which was modeled after the one in Prague, the Charles Bridge. It is not as long and it doesn’t have as many statues, but it is beautiful and the tradition of drinking wine on the bridge is going strong here! Norm bought two bottles and went back to the ship and I joined our next guide, Dorothea for the 5 mile hike!

The hike was a good one, again through forests, up long and steep staircases and up to near the Marienberg Fortress. We actually ended after dark and were the last 11 people back to the ship!

Tonight after dinner they made bananas foster in the lobby and we had our dessert in the lounge. Then Jessie gave her talk about the two towns we will visit tomorrow and the raffle followed that. I won a purse!

Watch for the posts about Wertheim and Miltenberg, the destinations for tomorrow, November 10.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | 1 Comment

Bamberg, Germany

November 8, 2019

After breakfast today we headed out to tour Bamberg. I chose to do the Walk and Discover and Norm stayed with the city tour group. Luckily here we also had the city tour with the Walk and Discover group so we didn’t have to miss anything, we just did not have the free time that the other groups had. But the tour was wonderful and well worth it! Great guide as all have been on this trip.

Bamberg is a UNESCO world heritage city and it is just lovely. Only about 5% was destroyed in the war so the buildings are original and charming – medieval in style. The city was designed by Emperor Heinrich II during the 11th century and he planned it to be as grand as Rome. It never became as large as Rome but it has many lovely buildings and a stunning network of canals like Venice. In fact one section along the river is called Little Venice. The town is built on 7 hills like Rome.

We started off at 9 with a 5 minute bus ride to the town and then each went with our respective groups and guides. My group hiked up the hills, through forests and vineyards to the St. Michael’s Abbey which is empty now except for a restaurant but quite beautiful. Then we went on to the Altenburg Castle at the top of the highest hill in the city. 5 miles of hiking all together and another 2 once we reached the town.

We learned that education in the public universities is free. The students pay a small administrative fee of 100 Euros a semester which includes the public transportation! Taxes are about 40 % here and there is an additional 8% church tax. If someone doesn’t want to pay the church tax they can apply for it it be dismissed but then they would not be able to have weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc in the church. It is strange because most people here are not religious. Guess that is why they need the tax.

As unusual feature of this town is the old town hall which is situated in the middle of the river!. It is really a beautiful sight.

The Bamberg Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Georg) is a Romanesque building in the center of town. It has 4 grand towers that guide you there from any direction. It was founded in 1004 and inside, you find a statue of the Bamberg Horseman, the symbol of the city. Many of the buildings have scaffolding around them and are being repaired. This cathedral will be under construction for 14 years (7 more) and cost 50 million euros! The beautiful painted walls were all erased because when it was restored after a fire King Ludwig thought it should be returned to its”original” state, so the walls are plain sandstone. Our guide thought that was a rather stupid move!

The town is known for its smoked beer, Rauchbier. This is the only place in the world where you can find it. Norm tried some and said it was good!

Unlike some of the towns we have visited along the rivers and canals, there is no flooding here any more. They now have the canals which has solved that problem.

We arrived back at the ship for a 12:45 departure. There was a Bavarian buffet for lunch and all of the servers wore hats and aprons in Bavarian style. There was a roast pig, many specialties and of course, large pretzels. We sat with a new friend, Howard, who is from the UK and surprisingly had never had this type of pretzel. They are pretty much like the ones in Philadelphia which of course were brought there by the Germans.

Tomorrow we will be in Wurzburg . The scenery along the river is really pretty. In some places the fall colors are still nice and it is relaxing just to sail smoothly along.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Nuremberg, Germany

November 7, 2019

Yesterday afternoon we had a presentation about the Main – Danube Canal. We thought we were already in the canal, but no…we were going to approach it a bit later. Jessie told us about the history of the canal which joins the Danube River to the Main River. There were many attempts to build a canal and they all failed for one reason or another. Finally in 1960 construction was started on the existing one and it was completed in 1992. It is 106 miles long and contains 16 locks. The first set of locks raises the ship to the highest point in the world that can be reached by water – at the European Watershed. We will reach that right before Nuremberg. Then the second set lowers the ship. The ships were made to perfectly fit through the canal and it is a quite tight fit!!. These locks fill with 10.5 million gallons of water in 20 minutes. Remarkable.

We had dinner in the Bistro restaurant tonight for the first time. Dinner here requires a reservation and you can see the chefs working in the kitchen. There is room for only 20 passengers in there. We sat with another couple from UK and had a great evening with the usual wonderful food.

After dinner, there was a crew talent show with 8 different acts. It was a lot of fun and laughs. Then we had time for dancing. Nice evening.

When we woke up this morning and went to breakfast, we were surprised to find that the ship was already docked, three hours early! Gabor told us that because there aren’t as many boats this time of year, we made it through the locks in record time. We stayed on the regular schedule though as the guides weren’t available to make it any earlier.

So, after the briefing on Nuremberg where we will go at 1 PM, Norm and I took a long walk to the lock we passed through this morning. It was a nice morning for a walk. In much of the canal, the planners made one side into the transportation side with bike and walking paths and roads, and the other side is more like a park which is beautiful. Where we docked was at a shipyard and building site on the opposite side, our walk was along the river on the side next to the woods.

After lunch we had a bus tour of the city followed by a walking tour. There is a lot of Nazi history here and our guide, Margarita, did a nice job of explaining the sites. The Third Reich held court here against a background of marching fields and Hitler’s rallies. These rallies began in 1927 and continued through the following decade. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, they became massive propaganda events. This was Hitler’s favorite city and every September he held a 10 day rally at Zeppelinfield which we visited. The podium he stood on and is featured in many WW II movies, is still standing. Creepy.

As also saw the Colosseum which is bigger than the one in Rome. We saw the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg trials took place in Room 600.

Margarita was very good in explaining how Hitler came to power and convinced people that life would be better for them without mentioning the atrocities that were taking place.

90% of the city was destroyed during the war. On January 2, 1945 alone 1/2 million fire bombs were launched. So much of the housing now looks like boxes – but many have gardens behind them – but some of the historic area was spared due to protective barriers that were constructed.

Margarita told us that the city is rated in the top 20 for quality of life and is a multicultural city with 40% of the population from backgrounds other than German or European. The population is 530,000. She also told us that many people think that their highways have no speed limits, but that’s the case for only 30% of them. Still a lot, I think!

We saw three lovely churches, the city market, St. John’s cemetery which is known as the most beautiful in the world, and the impressive Imperial (Kaiserburg) Castle. The castle is one of the most important imperial palaces of the Middle Ages and in a bit of trivia we learned that it was the model for the one in Disneyland. There is a large moat which never contained water but provided a barrier to intruders. Now it contains parks and community gardens.

The day was another full day with good weather. We have been so lucky. When we return to the ship, they always have different varieties of hot tea waiting for us, and there is a cookie jar filled with different homemade cookies – that never seems to empty. Life is good on the Emily Bronte.

Some photos are on Facebook if you follow me there and again, I promise to blog them when we return as I realize the narrative is pretty dry without the visuals.

Heading to Bamberg tomorrow and we have now completed half of the trip.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Regensburg, Germany

November 6, 2019

Each day in the lounge, Jessie gives us a talk about the next day’s town. We have nice maps of each city in our cabin along with a wonderful foldout type map with every town, bridge, lock and more information printed on it so we can follow along as we travel. Between Passau and Regensburg there were 8 bridges and 4 locks. We bordered the Bavarian Forest much of the way.

Today we did a short walking tour with Jessie and then spent the rest of the morning on our own exploring the town. As with most of the towns we are visiting, it was so picturesque. It is the northernmost city on the Danube and after this we will be in the Main- Danube Canal for the next part of the trip.

Regensburg seems to always be in competition with Nuremberg which we will visit tomorrow. Which has the best sausages, beer, art, etc. Can’t give an opinion yet! I don’t eat the sausages so that one will depend on someone else’s vote. But this town is beautiful. It is said to be the best preserved medieval city in Germany.

The famous stone bridge was something to see! It is a masterpiece that took only 11 years to build, which was almost unheard of during those times (1146). It was the city’s only means of crossing the Danube for 800 years. it opened the way to important trade routes and helped make the city wealthy and the cultural center of southern Germany. It is really beautiful. It has its own sausage kitchen, built right next to the bridge to feed the workers and it is still serving sausages today. They say they are the best but Nuremberg says theirs are best!

The Regensburg Cathedral is the finest in Bavaria. It was founded in 1273 but only finished in 1520 with the towers completed in 1872. On the inside you can see the huge stone columns. The crucifix was in the middle of the church and not on the altar, which you don’t often see. One of the oldest boys’ choirs in the world is housed here. We were able to visit and take pictures, I will post a whole section when I return. In the meantime, some are on Facebook.

The buildings are all pretty gorgeous. The town hall is in Gothic style and hosted many important events in Germany.

Famous residents of this town include Pope Benedict XVI and Otto Schindler who is credited with saving the lives of 1200 Jews during the Holocaust.

We stopped into a shop that had interesting hand made jewelry. I bought a lovely pair of silver earrings. The shop keeper gave us his version of the good news and bad news. The good news is that the town and buildings are old. And the bad news is that the town and buildings are old! This means that nothing about the town or buildings can be changed. No air conditioning, etc.

The ship was leaving at 12:30 so we went back for lunch. There was an ice cream social in the lounge just after lunch, with 6 kinds of ice cream and many choices of toppings. Delicious. We watched the ship go backwards until it reached the canal since it cannot pass through or under the stone bridge.

Today will have a talk about the canal and after dinner there will be a crew talent show. It is interesting that most of the crew do multiple jobs on the ship. I had a massage and the therapist told me she cleans rooms and does restaurant and bar duty when she doesn’t have customers. She also does the hair and nails!

Our next stop is Nuremberg and we will be there tomorrow afternoon so I am sure in the morning we will learn more about it. Stay tuned!

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Passau, Germany

November 5, 2019

This is our first stop in Germany. The forecast was for rain so we opted to tour the town vs going with the Walk and Discover group on the hike where we would not have visited the town. As it turned out, it didn’t rain until we were back on the ship. But the town was charming with plenty to see.

First, though, It want to mention something unique from Melk that I forgot to write about yesterday.

We saw a reusable coffin! It had a trap door that could be opened by a lever when the coffin was placed inside the grave opening. The reusable coffin was invented to accommodate a 1784 decree by Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. He ordered that bodies must be interred without clothes in linen bags to save wood and hasten decomposition. Under the decree, coffins could be used only for transporting the body to the cemetery. Joseph’s decree was so unpopular that it was never implemented. False but persistent claims that the body of Mozart, who died in Vienna in 1791, was placed in a reusable coffin are reflected in the movie Amadeus.

Passau is close to the Austrian border in Bavaria. People here actually consider themselves more Austrian than German. It is known as the “city of three rivers” because the Danube is joined here by the Inn and the Ilz. Because of this, the town has had many major floods and there is a wall that has markings that indicate the year and the water level.

Our cruise director, Jessie (who is from Amsterdam) took us around the town- it is one of her favorites. We have the whisper system with earphones that recharge in our cabins which makes it easy to hear the guides even if we get separated by short distances.

Jessie told us about the town’s history and the manufacturing of swords here. The symbol of the town is the Wolf and it was stamped on the blades of the swords which the warriors believed would protect them.

Here is a lot of dark history here including the hangman, which pretty much every town had back in medieval times. Also Nazi history – Hitler lived here as a boy and Himmler lived here for a period too.

Most of the town is in Baroque style as a result of rebuilding after a devastating fire in 1662 when most of the city was destroyed.

We visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral (yes, every town seems to have a St. Stephen’s!) which has the world’s second biggest organ with 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. It is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture.

The Old Residence and the New Residence housed the clergy and now are used as museums. Also beautiful Baroque buildings.

The Old Town Hall has a pretty garden courtyard and interesting paintings on the outside.

We had time to walk the streets and alleys and to visit another church (there are 47 here) where we sat to listen to the organ. One of the shops had magnificent cuckoo clocks of all sizes as well as nutcrackers and ornate beer steins. It is beer country after all. Jessie says you have to have a sausage and a beer in every town! As we travel further north, it will be more wine country but Bavarian beer is the thing here!

As I write this, we are going through one of the 66 locks and it seems like the concrete wall is just inches from our cabin and its floor to ceiling windows! Very interesting to pass through so many.

Tomorrow we will be in Regensburg. We are enjoying this ship, the friendly staff and the other passengers. We have met people from Australia and the UK and just a few other Americans. Great to chat with them and, as always, learn from others.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, November | 3 Comments

Melk, Austria

November 4, 2019

The morning we arrived at our last Austrian city, Melk. We were divided into groups to tour the Melk Abbey. The Walk and Discover group is always #4, so we had the last tour. It is a lovely sunny day and we took a bus up the hill to the Abbey. This charming town has only 5000 residents. The highlight is the Abbey which starred life as a Hapsburg Palace. It has been a monastic school since the 12th century with a library that is world renowned for its extensive collection. It was reconstructed in the Baroque style in the first 40 years of the 18th century. The building has 468 rooms and 1365 windows! It contains a high school for 700 students. Mozart has performed concerts here.

Reinhold was our guide through the courtyard and the museum areas of the Abbey which highlight the history through the years. Unfortunately no photos were allowed but we later bought a small book with explanation and pictures. I put two on Facebook along with pictures I took of the outside and the views.

The whole place was just spectacular- the library contains 100,000 documents, many rare manuscripts and all the books were re-covered to look the same. The church is the most beautiful I have ever seen and I have seen hundreds.

After our visit we walked through the town and through a forest area and returned to the ship for lunch. We left this port at 1:45. We will travel next to Passau in Germany and it is fun to watch the beautiful small towns and experience the many locks along the way. I had the opportunity to have a wonderful hot stone massage followed by tea with a special apricot Austrian dessert… Just had to try that!

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment