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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Danube River Valley

Before we traveled to Austria, we booked a tour of the Danube River Valley for the Wednesday we were there.  We figured it would be an easy way to see some of the countryside.  Ordinarily, we aren't big tour people, but considering how tired we had been in the weeks leading up to this vacation, I'm glad we planned a day when we didn't have to do much thinking.  The company that operated the tour seemed to do a very brisk business.  We were picked up from our hotel in a van.  At first, I thought that we were going to be on a very small tour with only a few other people.  But then, the driver of the van took us to some sort of central depot where there were several large tour buses taking people on a variety of different tours.  Our guide moved very ably between German, English, and Spanish.

Our first stop was Krems, a very picturesque town, where we were given an hour to wander around.

Then we started heading toward Emmendsdorf for lunch.  The guide showed us barriers that were put up to protect the valley from flooding (he described them as ugly and expensive), and told us that most people in the valley make a living either from tourism or wineries.  He also told us that apricots would be in season in a few weeks.  I was regretful to have missed out on that, although I will say that I got to eat plenty of other tasty things over the course of the trip.

After that, we headed to Melk.  The purpose of going to Melk was to visit a Benedictine abbey, but Scott and I also nipped into town before the abbey tour started.  While there, we saw a few quirky sites:

A bicycle covered in yarn...

A polished stone machine...

And a sign in Arabic advertising apple strudel!  Too bad the words are both backwards and disconnected!

Part of me wanted to skip the abbey and see what other amazing surprises Melk had in store, but the abbey was lovely, also.

View from the abbey
All in all, a lovely day.  When we returned to Vienna, we ate dinner in a tiny, decidedly non-touristy restaurant (no languages on the menu except German!).  The employees there were very gracious about translating for us.  We split a whole steamed artichoke as an appetizer--no doubt the last one I'll have in a long while!

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