After a very busy and highly enjoyable day in Vienna yesterday, we had spent the night cruising just 64 miles to the town of Melk in the Wachau, a UNESCO protected region of the Danube River. Much smaller than our previous host cities of Budapest & Vienna, Melk is a lovely little town which is dominated by the massive Benedictine Abbey.
Although the abbey is very close to the docking point, AMA Waterways still provided coaches to take us to the Abbey. This was particularly good as the ice on the ground made walking a very treacherous proposition.
Benedictine Monks still live and work in the abbey as they have done for over 900 years. The one hour tour of the Abbey shows many things but the highlights have to be the library and the most amazing church - no photos allowed. There is also a school in the abbey but as our visit coinicided with the school holidays, no children were to be seen.
The abbey is without doubt the main attraction of the small town of Melk, but they also had a very small Christmas market as well as a few small shops, bakeries and cafes to rest and recharge after all that walking around the abbey!
One thing to highlight here is AMA Waterways real effort to accommodate less mobile guests. They really are meticulous in informing guests how many steps they may have to climb - and for those who are less than happy with that, they will arrange mini buses. Where necessary, they also separate guests into 'slower' groups where mobility is an issue.
From Melk, we drove to the small village of Grein, where the ship was waiting for us with traditional 'Onion Tart' and ' Kaiserspritze' along with hot towels to welcome us back on board. I should also mention that the captain personally welcomed EVERY guest back on board at EVERY port of call after EVERY excursion. A nice touch!
Our welcome was immediately followed by another wonderful lunch. Since we were sailing all afternoon, this was a time to just relax and enjoy the ship.
Around 5.30 - and earlier than expected - we arrived in Austria's third largest city, LINZ. In the relaltively short time between docking and dinner, most guests chose to take the short walk to Linz's Christmas market. Linz actually has two Christmas markets which are connected by the Landstrasse (the shopping mile of Linz) and I have to say, the lighting here is pretty spectacular.
This was the last Christmas market on our short cruise as we were disembarking in Passau the next day, but it was certainly one to remember.
The evening was spent relaxing on board and listening to a memorable classical concert on board by the Viennese trio, La Strada.
Read Day 4 here - MS Amalyra river cruise blog
Read Day 6 here - MS Amalyra river cruise blog