Wednesday, October 17, 2007

When in Vienna....

Do visit the stunning monastery in Melk, about an hour's drive west of Vienna. Ask about the Vienna Sightseeing company, who have a tour of the Wachau valley surrounding the formidable Danube.

The tour takes you from your hotel (a complimentary ride) to a central point from which you board a luxury coach with the appropriate language. After driving through some grittier parts of the city and the unremarkable highway, you suddenly find yourself in stunning Austrian countryside, meandering through narrow windy roads alongside the Danube. A little later, you see vineyards and pretty cottages, while the river flows to your left. It's beautiful.

What I also liked about the tour is that it stopped at a place called Spitz. from where we embarked upon an idyllic Danube cruise to Melk.

If you know nothing about the monastery in Melk like me, or had simply seen pictures of it, you will be glad you came. It is grand and demure at the same time. The approach to it may be touristy and overpopulated, but once you enter the courtyards approaching the monastery, you will be struck by the commanding facade and the quietness.

The monastery was established in the 11th century and the interior is just as breathtaking as the exterior. Ceiling paintings are almost Michelangelo-like, and you can almost visualize Benedictine monks in their flowing robes walking the sparse and long hallways.

The view of town of Melk from the abbey is stunning as well. I was mortified that the batteries in my camera had run of out charge (moral: take your camera charger on trips and USE it!) but I managed to get a couple of pictures. A great excuse to go again.

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