A kingdom far, far away

by Janey Canuck in


Today we had success.  We booked a car last night and picked it up with no issues this morning.  It was a little white two-door Mini that served its purpose well.

We took a longer route, keeping us off the major highways so that we could see all the little towns between Vienna and our destinations and it quickly paid off.  Close to Krems, our first town, we started seeing vineyards all along the road.  We stopped at what appeared to be a winery and had a glass of wine on a patio that overlooked the Danube.  The wine was delicious and we would have bought some but only the restaurant was open, the store was closed because it was Sunday.  There was also a very friendly dog at the restaurant - I scratched her ears for just a second and she was laying down and rolling onto her back for a belly rub, which I happily gave her.  When I stopped, her eyes widened and she nuzzled at me to keep going, so I did.  It was very cute.  I would have loved to take her with us for the rest of the day.

After that, we got into Krems, the first of our three stops.  Again, it was Sunday so all of the shops were closed.  We enjoyed wandering the cobblestone streets, though, and there was some kind of festival or celebration going on outside one of the churches.  We never figured out what it was and when Wayne realized he didn't have the car key on him, our wandering was cut short to head back to the car to find the key.  Luckily, it was in the ignition.  Even more luckily, the car and all our stuff was still there.  We decided to continue on at that point and headed towards Durnstein.

I was looking forward to Durnstein the most - it's rumoured to have inspired the Brothers Grimm's kingdom far, far away in their fairy tales.  There's also the ruins of a old castle where Richard the Lionhearted was kept prisoner for quite some time during the crusades.  We arrived and managed to park and then headed towards the old town.  And yes, you could tell just by looking at it that it was the perfect setting for a fairy tale.  We found the path up to the castle and hiked up the steep, steep hill to get to the top.  It didn't take too long but it was a warm day and I was huffing & puffing the entire way.  The ruins were incredible and the views from them were almost indescribable.  It was so beautiful - you could see the town and the country side with the Danube flowing through it all.  So, so beautiful.

Then it was time for a bit of shopping in the town while the boys got some lunch.  I wasn't too hungry and I was more interested in the shops so we split ways for a little while.  I got to meander in and out of all the stores, buying some of the local wine and an apricot-flavoured soda, ice cream & grapes from the vines.  It was fantastic.  After meeting up with Kevin & Wayne again, we headed to Melk.

Melk is famous for their abbey.  And if I was understanding correctly, it was founded by a monk who was unimpressed with the opulent ways of Rome.  So he founded the abbey at Melk and welcomed monks with the characteristics he admired.  And compared to Italy & the Vatican, the abbey was very toned down.  The library was INCREDIBLE.  Somewhere around 100,000 books going back to the 1300s.  Many of these books would be original copies, written out by the monks themselves.  It was overwhelming.  Then, we moved into the church.  And to me, it seemed just as decorated and opulent as the churches we saw in Italy. After that, we wandered the abbey's gardens and headed down into the Old Town for an ice cream and a walk around before heading back to the car for the drive back to Vienna.

After dropping off the car and dropping our stuff at the hotel, we headed out for dinner, landing at an Italian place where we all really enjoyed our dinners.  Now, we're back in the hotel room, heading off to bed.  Wayne heads back to Germany tomorrow and then Kevin and I will be heading back to Toronto very early on Tuesday morning.  Hard to believe our trip is almost over :(