On a successful trip, there’s always a moment or day that sifts into your memory to be instantly conjured up far into the future. You can be doing some sort of drudge chore (ahem, chicken-coop cleaning in my case!) and suddenly that golden moment appears like a gift: I remember that! And you see it like you were there anew. On our Danube river cruise there were many such days, but one of my favorites was our visit to Austria’s Wachau Valley and the exquisite village of Dürnstein.
First memory moment that day was cruising silently through the morning fog from Linz and watching the sun rise over the Danube as we sipped lattes in our stateroom:
There was a festive brunch that morning:
and then we were reminded to take in the sights of the gloriously picturesque Wachau Valley as we headed toward Dürnstein:
We were not the first to discover it. The Celts were planting grapes here in the fifth century, B.C. And the Romans, whose soldiers reportedly preferred to be paid in wine, cultivated some of the area’s first vineyards. Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are the best-known wines to come from the Wachau Valley. In the twelfth century, Richard the Lionhearted, returning from the Third Crusade, spent a season here under ransom by Duke of Austria Leopold V. If I’m ever going to be in captivity, please, let it be in Dürnstein! It won’t be solitary confinement though – more than a million visitors come to this tiny town each year. Luckily, our time there was relaxed and uncrowded. It was a perfect day!
After a walking tour, we peeked into the former Augustinian monastery:
Its tower is a Dürnstein landmark.
And offers the best views in town:
If we are ever lucky enough to return, we’ll stay at the Hotel Sänger Blondel, where we found a magical shaded garden café after our tour.
Because Tauck always thinks of something special, we were treated to a wine-tasting:
If the grape is not your passion, the area is also famed for its marille – the prized apricots they add to their famed jams, stews and brandy:
An accessibility note: walking down the hill to the boat was much easier than walking up, for those of us with “issues”. All I can say is it was absolutely worth it – don’t miss Dürnstein – it is the stuff dreams are made of…