As you can see in the photo below, there is snow on the ground when we disembark Avalon Vista in Melk, Austria, this morning. Most Vista guests got an early start with a ship-hosted tour of the famed Melk Abbey. However, we toured the abbey about a year ago and have done so twice. It is an impressive sight, for sure. But, this morning, we decided to sleep in a little later and walk into the little town of Melk to do some souvenir shopping.
This is the coldest day so far on this trip with temperatures dipping down into the low 30s. Fortunately, there is no wind this morning, making the cold a little more tolerable.
Getting from our ship to Melk is pretty simple, but the walk takes about 15-20 minutes. It is pretty hard to get lost and there are signs posted along the way to help.
It is basically one long straight road that leads right into town. Normally, an easy walk, but there a few patches of ice along the way today that we have to be aware of and avoid.
You know you are getting close when you can see the huge abbey perched on the hill above town. Today, the view is almost obscured by fog.
When we walk into town at 9:30am, it is almost deserted. A few local merchants are preparing to open for business, but for the most part, everything is closed other than a few coffee houses.
We did find a bank open for business which gave me the opportunity to get some more Euro from the ATM inside. By 10am, a couple of little souvenir shops opened up and we were able to purchase a refrigerator magnet for our collection. We also found postcards and stamps at a small Tabak shop (tobacco). We found a flat surface outside to use as a table to fill out the postcards and a postal drop box was just a half-block away.
We walked around most of the little town of Melk just to say we did. A small Christmas Market was being set up in the town square, but a local resident told Rickee that it did not open until 4pm. As is typical in Europe, the town is decorated for Christmas with lights strung across the streets, and decorations in the store windows.
We re-boarded Vista around 11am and sailed away for Vienna at 11:45. After sailing through dense fog for a few miles, the sun decided to come out as we sailed through the beautiful Wachau Valley. Cruise Director, Tony, could be heard over the ship's PA system pointing out castles, churches and other points of interest along the way.
We decide to enjoy the light lunch option in the lounge today as Tony continues to narrate our sailing through the Wachau Valley. After lunch, the scenic sailing through the valley makes the perfect backdrop for enjoying some reading in our stateroom. At 3pm, however, we are tempted back into the lounge for an "Austrian Christmas Cookie Lecture and Tasting."
A local "Christmas Cookie Expert" (is there such a thing?) tells us the history of the Austrian Christmas cookie traditions. Her slide show presentation was very interesting, but personally, I think everyone was anxious to try the cookies! Each guest was given a plate with a selection of eight different Christmas cookies to try.
Almost immediately after the cookie presentation and tasting, it was Tea Time! We skipped the delicious-looking desserts and enjoyed a cup of hot Glühwein. BTW, the egg salad finger sandwiches served at Tea Time are delicious.
After Happy Hour this evening, Tony gave us the dreaded disembarkation lecture. Didn't we just get on board? After Tony's talk, most guests head down to the Restaurant for dinner. We decide to stay in the lounge and enjoy some quiet time." We prefer to do the majority of our eating earlier in the day and rarely go to dinner. We do so a few times during a cruise, primarily so we can write about the experience.
Tomorrow, we will be in Vienna and will visit the Christmas Markets there.