“Sure, if we can arrange one in one of these days.” Was my response.
We were in Vienna, Austria. Fortunately, we found out that some of the river-cruises that traverse the Danube River between various European countries would ferry daily passengers between stop-overs. One such embarking port was in Melk, about a 45-minute train ride from Vienna. Thus, one early morning we headed towards Melk that itself is a small historic town with an elegant central area with cafes and restaurants. Melk is also home to an architecturally massive monastery known as the Melk Abbey. The original one was founded in the eleventh century as a Benedictine abbey. However, later it was destroyed by fire. The current one is the restored one from the eighteenth century in a Baroque style. However, due to the lack of having enough time to tour the abbey, cruising the river for a while followed by returning to Vienna by evening, we decided to head towards the port, covering a short distance from the center of the town. We caught the first available ferry going towards west (in the direction of Vienna). Soon, the boat began its journey. From the upper-deck of the boat, a view of the Melk Abbey appeared in our sight. Soon, we left Melk behind. Instead, the gorgeous view of the natural vista on both banks appeared in front of us. With a cool breeze blowing on the upper deck, we felt the touch of the nature engulfing us. As the boat started to pass through small towns, castles with mountains in the background, for example, the Schönbühel Castle came to our view. We learned that the segment of the river was flowing through the Wachau Valley, designated as a UNESCO heritage area. The beauty of the valley was emanating from the greenery of its famous vineyards with fog-shrouded mountains at the distant.
Soon, our disembark point, the town of Dürnstein, with its blue church tower came to our view. The town of Dürnstein is known for the ruins of a medieval castle, built of stone and situated at the top of a hill, accessible via a steep trail. Along the trail, various historical facts regarding the castle were described. As we hiked up the hill, we learned that during the Third Crusade in late 12-th century, Leopold V, the Duke of Austria imprisoned King Richard, the Lionheart of England in the castle here. Once arrived at the top, we toured the remnants of the castle still standing. Through one of the openings in the ruins, the blue tower of the church, with the river in the background offered a panoramic view. After coming down from the hilltop, we explored the little charming town on foot tasting its famous apricot jam before heading back to Vienna.