After leaving Passau, we sailed into Austria and made our way to the Wachau Valley, an area renowned for apricots and grapes. The apricots are made into fine desserts and excellent schnapps, and the grapes—particularly Reisling and Grüner Veltliners—are turned into the wines the Valley is famous for. We were fortunate to sample all the essential Wachau Valley treats that night during an elaborate ‘Welcome to Austria’ feast on the ship.
Local entertainers played traditional Austrian folk music while we started the meal with an array of Austrian meats, cheeses, bread, and pretzels.
From there we moved onto sauerkraut with juniper berries, pumpkin soup, sausages, potato salad, schnitzel, and a whole hog, roasted on board earlier that day.
Next it was time to check out the impressive dessert table, where trays and trays of cheese strudel, apricot cake, poppy seed cake, raisin pancakes, and sacher cake (a traditional Austrian cake of dense chocolate, apricot jam, chocolate icing) were set up.
Again, it’s amazing what they can do in a small galley kitchen.
We woke up in Melk, Austria and trekked up to the famous Melk Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 1089. Here are some photos of the Baroque Abbey and grounds, built in the early 1700’s:
Inside the Abbey is a gorgeous medieval library. No pictures were allowed, which was devastating because oh! The pictures I could have taken! The room I saw was just one of twelve rooms housing over 100,000 medieval manuscripts.
There are actual secret passageways behind the bookcases so readers can study next to the windows. So. Damn. Cool.
We walked back to the ship through the town of Melk and along the water.
I managed to squeeze in a cappuccino and a slice of Wachauer Torte (a walnut cake particular to the region) with Francene and Trace, a lovely couple from Georgia and fellow Viking travellers.
Many more cappuccinos to come as we cruise on over to Vienna—the coffee house capital of the world!