Wachau 30.5.2010

Following my suggestion, Roger und Ann, on visit from the English Lake district, join us for a boat trip in the Wachau, from  Duernstein to Melk and back. The weather is overcast, and shortly before we enter the boat, it rained for a while.

First we have to dry the seats, but it has stopped raining, and does not start again, so we can sit outrside for the whole journey.

The church and the monastery of Duernstein; The boat jetty is far right.

Soon we reach Weissenkirchen.

Talking with Roger - as well as our English skills are permitting.

The other boat of the Brandtner - group is nip and tuck with ourīs. I donīt understand why there are two boats nearly at the same departure time.

A commercial barge; in the background the church of Weissenkirchen.

Susi enjoys the day despite the overcast weather.

Dunkelsteiner Wald, geologically identical to the opposite hills of the Waldviertel, definitely not part of the Alps. The river Danube has cut its way through this geologically very old granite massive.

The old fortified church of St. Michael, the oldest parish in the Wachau.

We are approaching the village of Spitz ...

 ... with the 1000-Eimer - hill (Eimer = bucket). They say, that in good years the farmers can crop as much of 1000 buckets (each containing 56 litres) of vine from its slopes.

Opposite of Spitz the church of Hofarnsdorf

A huge cruise liner has berthed at the jetty; we have to wait until it makes room for us.

Spitz with its church

The cruiser casts off for a while, maintaining its position in the stream with its engines.

You can travel on such a ship from Regensburg to the Black Sea, a journey that takes several weeks.

A passenger has boarded the cruiser instead of our boat.

 ... so there is a little rendezvous between two ships to enable her to enter the right boat.

On a hill in the background the ruined castle of Hinterhaus near Spitz, in the 12th century constructed and owned by the Kuenring knights.

Willendorf, where a small female figure from 22000 b.c. was found, which has become famous as the "Venus of Willendorf".

Opposite the ruin of Aggstein

The caslte was built at about 1.100 on a near impregnable rock. It was owned by the Kuenring knights, who for many years were much feared robber-knights.

Landscape of Danube near Aggstein

Schoenbuehel castle, shortly before Melk ...

 ... and with the view downstream to the narrowing river valley at the beginning of the Wachau.

Arrived at Melk, we take advantage of the 45 minutes break to do a short walk. The monastery of Melk was a cultural and spiritual centre for many centuries in Austria. In the 10th century (from 976) it also was the residence of the first Austrian Babenberger earl Leopold 1st. From 1089 Benedictine monks are living here, todayīs huge baroque monastery was built between 1703 and 1736 after plans of Jakob Prandtauer, and recently renovated between 1978 and 2000.

The boats have berthed on an oxbow lake.

Rape flourishing near the water.

We have started our jouney back ...

View from the end of the oxbow lake upstream. The huge weir ...

 ... belongs to a water power plant. With a heiht difference of near 10 metres, 177 MW of electric power is produced by 2700 m3 of water per second - green energy without producing CO2.

Schoenbuehel castle, on our way back.

In the narrow valley, road and railway have to go through tunnels in places.

Back at Duernstein. To the left is the homonymeous ruin, built in the 12th century and destroyed in the 30 yearīs war in the 17th century by Swedish troups. According to an old legend, the English king Richard, "The Lion Hearted" was imprisoned here after having dishonored the Austrian flag at the battle of Akkon (1191). Although disguised he was discovered on his journey back through this country. Nobody knowing where he was staying, his minstrel found him by singing the kingīs favourite song near numerous castle prisons and getting an answer only here. The king was then set free for a good ransom, which afterwards was used to construct the town fortifications of Wiener Neustadt.

Church and castle. The boats are berging coming from downstream.

Now we head for the ruin.

On the slopes above the town vine is grown on terraces.

View upstream from half way up to the castel.

Bizarre granite rocks, on which the castle was built.

Ann and Roger enjoy the view from up here.

View upstream to the narrow river valley called Wachau

View downstream - in the distance, opposite to the town of Krems, the exit of Wachau, Goettweig monastery, built up on a hill.

Panoramic view from the highest point of the Duernstein ruin. Click here or into the picture for a larger verison.

View upstream

Ann has joined us up to that highest point.

A bit of sun at last!

Back near the parking ground.

View back to the castle, from the parking ground. Bizarre granite rocks all around.

Rogerīs report with pictures of that day.