Melking it!

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Caroline Hurry
Caroline Hurry

Surrounded by terraced vineyards, Durnstein is a picture book medieval town with around 400 inhabitants.

Think cobbled streets under the blue tower of the local baroque Stiftskirche (abbey church). High on a hill are the 10th century castle ruins where Richard the Lionheart was captured in 1197 and held for ransom on his way back from the Crusades. The view from there is fantastic – depending on the weather, of course

Typical cobbled street in Durnstein

If Durnstein is the “pearl” then Melk must be the necklace with its church spires, castle turrets, abbey towers, and cultivated terraces spilling into the cleavage of the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most iconic is the huge honey-coloured 18th Century Benedictine abbey Most iconic is the huge honey-coloured 18th Century Benedictine abbey.
Most iconic is the huge honey-coloured 18th Century Benedictine abbey

We took a tour inside and discovered stunning frescoes, jewel-encrusted crosses, religious relics, gold statues, richly embroidered vestments, and the abbey’s priceless collection of medieval manuscripts.

Interior of the abbey
Interior of the abbey

The paintings appear three-dimensional and looking up feels a glimpse into heaven. The impressive Baroque library houses 12,000 books from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries that were re-bound in leather with gold leaf.

We then walked the short distance down the hill to explore the quaint town of Melk before strolling back to the armchair comforts of our beloved Amacerto’s lounge for coffee and another view of the twinkling Danube.

Soon we set sail for Linz, famous for its cake and butter cookies with marmalade centres. Could life get any better?