Saturday, 9.23.00 – Linz, Austria to Durnstein, Austria

The weather was still cool, but partly cloudy with occasional sun. The day started out pretty well. We continued to follow the beautiful winding Danube as it passed through parks, towns, narrow valleys, agricultural fields, woods, and vineyards. Grape vines have been cultivated here since the days of the Romans. Willow covered islands abound as the river expands almost to lake size and contracts again to contain the canal between towering embankments.

The hills are terraced and castles abound. Granite walls appear from the trees, sometimes as bases for castles, chateaus and even small settlements. This portion of the river valley is acclaimed to be one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere, and we agree.

But not all is completely perfect in paradise. I’ve managed to get two flat tires already today. The first one was from a pile of unavoidable glass, and the second was from the one teeny, tiny sliver of glass that I missed digging out after the first flat. But hey, we need the practice. Judith finds the hole in the tube and patches it for next time, while I dig for pointy things and install a new tube on the rim. What a team!

So we’re off again. We stopped in the middle of the hydroelectric power dam to take some great pictures of the Danube and castles on the hills.

Undoubtedly the most picturesque stop of the day was in Melk, Austria. The Melk Abbey is a beautifully painted structure built on a rocky 150-ft. bluff above the town. It is the apogee of Baroque architecture in Austria. Originally a castle in the 11th century, it was completely rebuilt as an abbey in 1702. It’s difficult to take a picture of anything in the town without including the Abbey above.

We stopped again in Schonbuhel to take pictures of a 12th century castle. We understood that the outer wall contained a relief of the Last Supper but we couldn’t locate it. Amazingly, we only got lost a few times today, and added almost no extra mileage. What did we do right?

After following the bike path and road along the Danube a little farther, we finally found ourselves in the middle of someone’s vineyard. Aha! We must finally be lost. False alarm! After riding through a campground we located a ferry that took us to Durnstein and our "castle" for the evening.

We weren’t sure we were ever going to find our room, though. Fortunately, an older woman guided us through the maze of halls and staircases to our quarters. I must also add that she walked and climbed at a good 5 mile an hour pace. When do we rest?

As we found out later, the hotel is laid out in an old vaulted convent, which was rounded in 1289. The windows from our room overlook the outdoor swimming pool, set between the convent and the town’s old fortification walls. This place is filled with wonderful antiques.

After changing clothes, we were off to explore the town. Judith decided to sample some marinated apricots served in a wine glass. I don’t know what they were marinated in, but they seemed to have a calming affect over her – haha. The town is very enchanting with its old castle high above on the very peak of a craggy rock (where Richard "Lionheart", King of England was confined in the dungeon) and its bright blue painted church. It was just another place we wish we had more time to spend.

Dinner was in a dining room of the hotel, and fabulous as usual. This is really a tough life but someone has to live it!

Back on the trail we noticed that the ferry was about to go through a lock. So we biked out on the lock and watched the folks sink down to the new water level and chug out underneath us. It was really a fun day.

We arrived at Linz at 3:00 PM just as it started raining again. We then changed into street clothes and toured the pedestrian section of the city until dinner.