Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wachau Valley and Dürnstein

There was a huge spread for lunch today on board the ship, but I opted for a cheeseburger. I think all of the rich food is getting to me. We left Melk and cruised the Wachau Valley. It is a very narrow portion of the Danube with very steep hills up either side where the grape vines are ubiquitous. It reminded me a lot of the trip along the Rhine, but the leaves weren’t as pretty this time of year. We also passed a number of small towns and castles along the way. It was a pretty short trip down to Dürnstein. It is a very small town with only 1002 inhabitants. There are the ruins where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned back in 1192. I would have really liked to hike up to he ruins, but I had signed up for the wine tour (I guess I’ll have to check out the ruins on the next trip). There is also a monastery here that looks like it’s done in Jasparware.

We took the “train” up through the vineyards to Domäne Wachau where we toured the small castle and the winery. It is a cooperative so grapes come in from all different vineyards along the valley. The cellar was extremely aromatic since they have just harvested the grapes and they are working. The walls are covered in a type of mold that is actually quite beautiful – it’s extremely cool and humid down in the cellar. We eventually made it to the tasting room where we tried 4 different white wines. They were all very good. I hope to find some of them back home since I really didn’t want to put any in the suitcase (as if I had room!). We returned to the ship through town on the little train and it had already cooled off quite a bit.

I wish we had more time here, but it was time to leave. It doesn’t help that the sun sets just after 4 pm. I came back and tried to get on the internet, but no luck. We had our daily “port talk” about 6:45 and I was just tired hearing about all we have going on tomorrow. It’s going to be non-stop from 8:30 am – 10:30 pm. I met a couple from Atlanta and we ended up having dinner together. We also sat with a couple from Tasmania Australia. We had a fascinating conversation about the island of Nauru and their involvement with the refugee camps there. I want to do more research about that one. It’s a crazy story. We had a really great dinner tonight with pork and sweet and sour cabbage followed by a delicious melting chocolate cake. At 9:00 pm, they had a Christmas market set up in the lounge with more sweets and gluwine (hot, spiced wine). I managed to refrain from buying anything since I don’t know what I’ll find in Vienna tomorrow and I’ve already bought a few items. Internet is very slow tonight and I have a lot of pictures to upload. The captain just passed by and asked me to pass on “greetings to all of the folks at home”. We are going through our second lock of the evening. Gute nacht.

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