The Wachau Valley is a beautiful area of Austria, along the “blue” Danube, known for wine production, medieval castles, and the magnificent abbey at Melk. It was a perfect destination for my host family and me on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, after a horrible few days of stomach viruses all around. It was definitely a celebratory “we’re not sick anymore!” trip, and we had a blast (partly by eating delicious food all day long).
We drove to Melk first, which is about an hour from our house. Yep, an hour from home to this:
I hope to go back sometime and take a tour of the abbey–I hear that the libraries are incredible. But even without the tour, we were able to check out the beautiful courtyards and the cathedral itself (where Roland’s parents were married…how cool is that??). Seeing the abbey also got me more inspired to tackle Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, which has been on my to-read list forever!
Next we headed alongside the river to Spitz (all the roads in the Wachau are incredible scenic, passing through vineyards and groves of apricot trees–which we saw in bloom!). In Spitz we had a delicious lunch. I had Backhendl and Kartoffel-salat (ie. the Austrian version of fried chicken and potato salad). Then we went up above the village to check out the spectacular views.
After Spitz, we drove on to Dürnstein, a medieval village under a ruined castle, in which Richard the Lionheart was held captive for several months on his way back home from one of the crusades. Allegedly, he offended the castle’s owner by throwing the local flag into a rain gutter. Nowadays, Dürnstein is pretty touristy (I saw several little boys dressed as knights!) but rightfully so, as one of the most complete medieval towns remaining in Europe. As far as our visit went, we got some amazing ice cream and sat for a while, soaking in the atmosphere.
After this last photo stop, we headed back home, happy with our Wachau day. It was so beautiful, and made me fall even more in love with this gorgeous country. Really, Austria–you contain surprises and beauty around every corner.