Thursday May 20, 2010

The Austrian city of Linz was founded by the Romans (they called it ‘Lentia’), became a big-time trade centre, then an even bigger-time home of the Hapsburg Emperor Friedrich III. Linz was also big-time home to little Adolph Hitler, who was born in the border town of Braunau am Inn, but spent most of his younger days here.

In persistent rain late yesterday afternoon, we explored the historic Old Town, main square and Mozarthaus, and got to taste the region’s famous Linzer Torte (cake) at a local bakery.

Then, late last night, following a ‘pirate dinner’ on board, the Amadeus Elegant cast off its mooring ropes and glided downstream in the direction of the Wachau Valley – a stunningly beautiful chunk of Austria smack in the middle of a world-famous wine-growing region.

We woke up this morning to find the ship docked in Emmersdorf, and drove out after breakfast for a whirlwind tour of Yet Another Church – the magnificent Melk Abbey, one of Europe’s largest baroque monasteries. Following which we wandered down cobblestone streets in the 16th-century town of Duernstein, located below the castle where Richard the Lionheart (one-time King of England) was imprisoned in 1192.

Finally, we continued sailing through the afternoon to Austria’s gorgeous capital: historical, musical Vienna! And, after dinner on board, we enjoyed a special excursion – ‘Vienna At Night’ – which included views over the vineyards and city, plus a pub visit in the village of Grinzing, where we sampled some local wine, bread and dips, and listened to a couple of old guys playing ‘Heurigen’ music on accordion and guitar.

A lovely, laughter-filled evening was had by all – by the end of which some very sleepy Kiwis were more than ready to collapse into cosy beds aboard our floating hotel. 

TOMORROW: We’ll explore more of gorgeous Vienna in daylight, and visit Schönbrunn Castle. So don’t change channels …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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