We continue our Melodies of the Danube series. Here's the previous post from Vienna.
We've entered the Wachau Valley - picturesque with vineyards and small towns built on steep slopes. Durnstein is one such town.
We decided to do the Durnstein tour. It's a beautiful little town right on the Danube with two clear highlights. First is the blue porcelain church - not the material but the blue of porcelain. Second is the remains of a fortress / castle that held Richard the Lionhearted for a ransom of 1000’s of silver coins. We toured the town, which is filled with little shops along small alleyways. Only about 400 people live in town - and only 90 in the old town where we were. Durnstein is in the Wachau Valley which is known for both natural beauty and white wine. In town we had wine tasting - 2 whites and a red. The red was not particularly good but the whites certainly were - not sweet at all. We also were treated to an apricot tasting: apricot brandy (like grain alcohol), apricot liqueur (smooth apricot and sweet) and apricot jam (tasty and smooth). Durnstein is close to Krems and Melk Abbey which some people toured instead.
Greinburg Castle in Grein
After a late lunch we sailed along the Wachau Valley and had a late afternoon stop at Greinburg Castle. This is a private caste of the Sachse Coburg Gotha family. The building itself is something between a castle and a palace. It’s walls are 3 meters thick, the entrance is curved (to prevent straight shots coming in) but the insides are clearly palatial. We toured both the public rooms as well as the private quarters of the family that has owned the castle for the past 200 years. A local dance group demonstrated some traditional dances for us in the great hall, while we sipped sparkling wine. The palace is beautifully maintained. The family is forever intertwined with the English monarchy. Here’s their website: https://www.schloss-greinburg.at/en/.
That evening was the Chaine de Roistisser dinner (we had the traditional lamb chops) and that evening was La Strada. This is the chance for the AmaWaterways chief chef to shine.
The following day we are in Linz. Dave took a bike tour which drove past the Ars Electronica museum, old city hall, the cathedral, the shopping district. The old city hall has a very impressive map which covers the entirety of the city. The guide emphasized that Linz has neither the grandeur, prestige or the history of Saltzburg or Vienna and so they have embraced the future. The Ars Electronica Center is a museum and research center at the forefront of AI and digital media. Kepler is Linz' most famous scientist / academica. As an industrial center attached to the Nazi era and specifically to Hitler, the city is shedding their former image and now Linz is more associated with a thriving economy, Pixar and an authentically local Austrian experience.
Ars Electronica museum
Most people on the ship took excursions either to Salzburg or to Cesky Kromlov, Czech. Since we had been to both of these locations before and both require hour long bus rides, we decided to just stay in Linz for the afternoon. We went to the ARS Electronica in the afternoon. It's a really fun, hands on museum, well worth about 3 hours of your time.
As you can see, you have lots of freedom to do what you want on an AmaWaterways cruise. We were located in the heart of the city and so it was easy to do our own thing. There's never any pressure to go with the crowd.