A Saturday in the Wachau

Selina Donahue
April 20, 2016

We woke up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday to a cloudy sky and damp grounds. Though the weather wasn’t ideal for the trip, we refused to let it make a damper on our enjoyment of our travels that day.

The first stop of our trip led us to take a tour of the Melk Abbey, a huge building painted butter yellow and white. Our tour guide led us from room to room, some of which had been restored, while others had been completely changed from their previous Baroque decorations to modern pieces of glass, mirrors, and neon lights.

The Melk Library was gorgeous. It had another frescoed ceiling, and the walls were covered with books ceiling to floor. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but it had a very similar design the other rooms we saw previously.

The design of the Melk Church was quite extravagant. Like the rest of the abbey, there were golden flourishes and brightly colored frescoes on every inch, which was very baroque. Of course I loved it.

Below: Melk Church

Below: The Melk Abbey Courtyard

One room had these contemporary skulptures of a moving figure on it's three walls, with footage taken in the monastery being projected on top of them. I tried to find the creators name, but had no luck; either way it was very cool.

Below: A model of the abbey

Below: Ceiling frescoes 

We had lunch at Weinschenke Edlinger, which was typical options of pork and potato dumplings, or kaesespaetzle. Many of us got the marillen juice (marillen being a specialty of this area) which was a bit too watered down, but still quite good.

Next we went on a hike up to the Dürnstein Castle. The hike was a bit much for a few of us (it reminded me of a similarly tiring hike to the church of Mariazell), but we were able to pause during the steep trek to sit and enjoy the nature around us. The hike had various informational posts spattered along the trail, which I couldn’t read as they were in German. However, there were several pictures and statues that got the point across. There were also 'lookout posts' marked with eyes for you to get various views from different angles.

We eventually reached Dürnstein Castle. It was built in 1150 thanks to Hadmar I of Kuenring. There was a prison part with iron gates that a few of us went into, and were promptly “locked in” thanks to Dieter (our chaperone as well as the technology dude of IES Abroad Vienna), who laughed manically as he slammed the doors closed behind us. This prison was actually the same place where Richard I of England was imprisoned by Leopold V in 1192. 

The castle was very much a pile of rubble, with some notable walls and rocky steps holding it up. We climbed to the very top of the castle, which gave us some very cool views, through it was nothing short of unnerving being up so high. 

Below: Views from the castle

We had a quick visit to Krems, which I will admit was a bit forgettable. It was very short, so a group of us just quickly walked around the town before we had to get back to the bus.

Lastly, we had a Winetasting at the Huber Wine Cellar in Langenlois, which was followed by a Heurigen Dinner. I think for a lot of us, the wine tasting was what we were looking forward to the most. This wine cellar was family owned, and we met the husband and wife duo along with their daughter, and of course the vineyard dog Charlie. They only spoke German, though I believe the daughter spoke some English, so Dieter and Gretl translated for us throughout the tour. We were shown the vineyard and the room where the grapes were pressed to become the wine.

Below: The vineyard

We went into the cellar which was dark, chilly, and had damp walls covered in harmless mold. Yes, really. I accidentally leaned on one of the arches and got some great wall slime on the back of my coat which was lovely. We tried two whites, a rosé, and either one or two reds I cannot remember now. We got some bread to eat with our wine which made me feel very classy and official. We learned how to tell if the wine had a high sugar content (look for “legs”) and some cool wine history facts. 

Below: Prosting at the wine tasting!

Below: The delicious Heurigen Dinner

After the dinner, many of us bought a few bottles of wine to bring back to Vienna (which quite cheap!). After such a long day we were all exhausted and passed out on the bus ride home. I must say I really liked this trip and considering we got to do so much in one day, I would definitly recommend you take part if given the chance!

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Selina Donahue

<p>Selina is a Junior Studio Art Major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She enjoys long walks in the halls of art museums, eating too many cupcakes, and absorbing the world around her to feed as inspiration for all her creative endeavors. Her specialties lie in taking too many pictures and expressing joy over the little things. Selina is excited to share the beauty she sees all over Vienna during her stay with all who hop on over to her little blog!</p>

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