Since RIckee took over the reporting duties yesterday in Vienna, I have decided to give her a rest today and I am going to cover the morning walking tour of Melk Abbey. Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey looming above the town of Melk, Austria.
This morning, Tauck Savor offered a tour of the abbey with local guides. The tour begins with a short coach drive up the steep hill to the entrance of the abbey. We walk down a few flights of steps and through the impressive entrance.
After passing through a couple of archways, we arrive at the main courtyard of the abbey.
Here, we were divided into smaller groups and assigned a local guide for the remainder of the tour.
The rest of the tour took place inside the abbey, and they have a new policy which does not allow cameras. As I recall, it used to only restrict flash photography. I would suppose that because so many tourists either ignored the rule, or could not figure out how to turn off their flash, the policy changed.
That is a shame because the church is one of the most impressive ones you will find anywhere. If you are in Melk, you don't want to skip seeing the abbey. It is spectacular. I especially like the view from the balcony where you can see the village of Melk and the Danube below.
The tour only takes a couple of hours and guests are offered the option of taking the coach back to the ship or walking back through town. The walk takes about 30 minutes and there are a lot of steps and steep streets. We usually walk back, but it is so cold and windy today that I decide to wimp out and take the coach back.
When I get back to the ship, it is almost time for lunch. Rickee and I make our way to Compass Rose and find a nice table for two. The buffet lunch is well laid out, featuring two lines with identical selections in both lines, and there are lots of delicious choices. Today, they are offering crepes made to order. Everything we tried was delicious! Tauck also serves complimentary wine, beer or soft drinks with every meal.
After lunch, Rickee decides to try out her construction skills at the gingerbread house building competition held in the Panorama Lounge. Rickee joins three other ladies to form a team. Each "team" is given a "kit" with all the materials necessary to construct a gingerbread house. The galley has provided icing in piping bags along with bits of candy to decorate the houses.
The construction begins by erecting the walls and cementing everything together with the "icing mortar".
Then come the decorations: more icing, candy bits, you name it. Each team came up with its own decorations. Rickee said is the was the most fun she can remember having on a cruise!
This evening, Jill, a Tauck Director, gave the briefing on what we could expect for tomorrow's activities.
She was briefly interrupted by Saint Nicholas and Krampas, who proceeded to go around the room and learn who has been naughty and who has been nice this year.
In folklore, Krampus is a horned figure described as "half-goat, half-demon", who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved. Saint Nicholas, in contrast, rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Apparently, Jill has not been a very good girl since Saint Nicholas was doling out some punishment for her.
Soon, we are all invited into Compass Rose for the Gala Dinner. We find our favorite table for two, which is quite elegantly set.
The multi-course meal was delicious and quite sophisticated for a river cruise ship.
Tomorrow, we will be visiting Salzburg, Austria.