Wednesday, May 01-Day 12.
We had a very, very pleasant cruise this morning. Our ship glided along the river through the Wachau Valley, still on the Danube, heading towards the small town of Melk. From our hand-out I can tell you that “the town has been an important spiritual and cultural centre in Austria for over 1 000 years. It became the site of a Benedictine monastery in 1089 when Leopold ll gave one of his castles to the monks from Lambach. Ever since, and now over 900 years, the monks have lived continuously and worked in what is known as Stift Melk, following the rules of St. Benedict.”
Now, I believe there are approximately 33 monks assigned to the monastery, half of whom live there and half work in parishes around the region. The monastery brings employment to around 300 people who are guides, gardeners, cleaners etc.
Approximately 460 000 visitors per year come to see the monastery and the organisation of the tours is a thing of beauty. The buildings and grounds of the place are said to be more beautiful than those at Versailles, but as we didn’t get to see the grounds in the short time we were there, I can’t begin to compare.
The library there has over 100 000 books. At one time a copy of the Gutenberg Bible resided at Melk, but the monks sold it to somewhere in the U.S.A in order to make repairs to the monastery.
After our tour, Cynthia and Lynore made their way back to the bus for the ride back to the ship. Don and I wandered down from the monastery, through the lovely little town of Melk, crossed the bridge over the river and hoofed it back to the ship.
We arrived there the same time as the girls’ bus, so we were able to make it back to the ship at the same time. Where the bus dropped the ladies, there was a Gasthaus. Of interest on the side of the building were some high water marks from years gone by when the Danube flooded its banks. One was from the 1500s when the water level reached the bedroom windows of the house.
When everyone was accounted for, the ship set off upriver around 4 pm. We are now continuing up the Danube through the same Wachau valley to Passau, Germany, our next stop.
Goodbye for now and God bless.