We awoke this morning in Emmersdorf to a light snow gently falling along the Danube. We disembarked and headed a short distance to the Melk Abbey. This early 18th century Benedictine abbey sits atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the river and town below, on the edge of the Wachau Valley.
The entire abbey is massive and is still used today by 23 Benedictine monks who live in accordance of the rules of St. Benedict, which revolve around five practices: prayer, work, study, hospitality, and renewal.
The structure includes 65 private rooms, which often housed nobility on visits from around the region. Some of the highlights we saw included the Imperial Staircase and Corridor, and the huge Marble Hall. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the buildings and sadly didn’t have the guts to sneak a pic or two.
The two prized features of the abbey include its impressive library that extends across seven large rooms and three floors. Karen secretly snapped a pic of the globe I was admiring on the main floor.
The second jewel of this compound is its actual abbey church – a showpiece of opulent Baroque style. From the gilded statuary to its painted ceiling frescos, this is a sight worth seeing.
After our tour, we ventured to Pichler’s Donauhof for a Wachau Valley wine tasting. This region consists of 155 vineyards along the Danube and is known for its full-bodied, peppery Grüner Veltliner (which actually has a bit of a green hue to it), and of course the rich, steely Riesling.
We tasted three Austrian white wines: Gelber Muskateller, a simple but dry wine, Riesling Federspiel, a lovely sweet wine, and the Chardonnay Smaragd, our table’s favorite – smooth but not too buttery. And we were serenaded by a classic Austrian accordion player!
After boarding our boat, we had a relaxing afternoon (some of us took a much-needed three-hour nap!). Gingerbread cookie decorating was offered, followed by cocktails in the lounge.
We ended the evening with an ugly Christmas sweater party!
Tomorrow, we stop in Linz. Guten Nacht, liebe freunde!