Friday, April 26, 2013

Eurotrip 2013: Melk & Krems

One of the things Angie and I were most excited to do was take a boat cruise along the Danube River between Melk and Krems. To be honest, we knew nothing about this adventure other than one sentence we had read in a railguide suggesting this trip. Apparently that sentence was enough to get our excitement up! So on Wednesday, we took a train from Vienna to Melk to start the adventure. We were initially surprised at how adorable the tiny town of Melk was. (Apparently this is no secret as we heard Americans all around us!) Our main goals for the city was to see the Melk Abbey, which is a gorgeous Baroque-styled abbey that towers over the city, and find our boat to begin our cruise.
The reviews were spot on - the abbey was gorgeous!!
We opted to take a guided tour of the abbey, and I am so thankful we did. Usually I avoid the guided tours because I want to explore at my own pace. But since there were only four of us on the tour, and we had somewhat limited time, we decided to do it. The first stop was the main courtyard, where I learned that the frescoes were recently repainted with modern themes. The fresco below shows Temperment, and represents the balance of fire and water. It was also choosen to represent the abbey's wine cellars, as temperment is needed in making wine!

Without going in to too much detail about the abbey's history, I will point a few of my favorite things. First, this statue and light projection. I have no idea what it means, but apparently it means something sacred as it was in postcards in the gift shop! (Would it have been wrong to ask our guide what "Hore" meant?)

This is a pocketbook version of the rules of the Benediction Order. The monks hand wrote these in a size which they could take on their travels.

This is a mural depecting what a "bad abbey" would look like, complete with demons carrying the monks to hell. It was much more interesting to look at than the "good abbey" mural.

While the building is styled in the Baroque fashion, there are many elements of the Enlightenment throughout the abbey. One example was this reusable coffin, which was created to save wood. People would be laid to rest in the cofffin, but before burial the gravekeeprs would unlatch the bottom and drop the bodies into the ground. I can't argue with that practicality.

Another section was a work of art representing man's evolution, and I was impressed by these bodies at different forms of enlightenment.

One of the most impressive rooms in the abbey was the library, but we weren't allowed to take pictures inside. Opposite it was this marble hallway, which served as the dining room for the royal guests. The paintings and faux marble were gorgeous. (Imagine this room was filled floor to ceiling with brown and gold books, and we've got ourselves a library.)

The abbey church was equally beautiful, filled with gold-leaf sculptures and tons of natural light.

After leaving the building, we were able to climb one of the two towers to look out over the town. Pretty gorgeous, right?

We grabbed lunch and headed to our boat to start our river cruise. I was surprised at how many people this boat held. I was expecting more of a small ferry boat, but this was just fine because in addition to beautiful views, there was a restaurant and bar.

I'm not exactly sure what this building is, but I did hear the captain say that in old times the occupants made people jump to their deaths of the side. Creepy.

As I mentioned, there was a bar on the ship. There were also free snacks, thanks to the first class lounge at the Vienna train station!

During one of our stops along the river, the captain tought me how to drive the boat! And by that, I mean he let me take a picture with him.

More stunning views along the river:

We were sad to leave the boat, but we were excited to see Krems!

Krems is supposed to be a big wine-producing region so obviously we needed to experience it. The toursit office pointed us to a wine tasting room and we spent some time sampling different types of white wines... and giant breadsticks. (I'm not typically a white wine drinker, but I think Bordeaux and Krems might be changing my mind on that.)

After the wine bar, we walked down Krems Main Street, purchased Mother's Day cards for our wonderful moms (based on cuteness of cards, not at all based on what they said), and took the train back to Vienna. It was a very easy day, but definitely one of the most scenic and one of our favorites too!


No comments: