All Things Austrian With Viking River Cruises

Cruising Austria’s Wachau Valley today as Viking River Cruises’ Viking Baldur sails the Danube. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

December 4, 2014
An eventful day was in store for guests aboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Baldur today. Not only would we get to visit two ports of call – the Austrian towns of Durnstein and Melk – but we’d also cap off the evening with a fabulous themed dinner onboard, the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

Viking Baldur docked at Berth 21 in Durnstein, Austria today. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Viking Baldur docked at Berth 21 in Durnstein, Austria today. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

At eight in the morning, Viking Baldur pulled up to the small town of Durnstein, Austria, tying up at Dock 21. A picturesque little village, Durnstein is anchored primarily by two things: Durnstein Abbey, with its powder blue-and-white clock tower; and the remains of a medieval castle perched high atop the hills.

Durnstein, as seen from the Danube. Note the ruins of the castle in the background. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Durnstein, as seen from the Danube. Note the ruins of the castle in the background. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Richard the Lionheart is noted as one of Durnstein’s earliest tourists. He arrived here in 1192 and was promptly imprisoned by Duke Leopold V of Austria. It was your typical medieval scenario: Richard the Lionheart had offended the Duke by draping his flags down over Leopold’s during the Battle of Acre and, to a lesser extent, by ordering the murder of the Duke’s cousin. The Duke responded swiftly, imprisoning King Richard in a gorgeous castle nestled in the middle of the wine-producing Wachau Valley.

Busy in the summer months, Durnstein was positively deserted this morning - and that's not a bad thing! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Busy in the summer months, Durnstein was positively deserted this morning – and that’s not a bad thing! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Today, no one is being imprisoned, though you can still hike up to the remains of the castle, which is a tough-but-doable 30 minute hike from the town center. We did, however, get the Royal Welcome, as shops opened shortly after eight in the morning on a sleepy Thursday especially for guests streaming off the Viking Baldur.
Some photos of this quiet but picturesque town:

Winter dioramas in a shopkeeper's window. Fantastic! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Winter dioramas in a shopkeeper’s window. Fantastic! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Durinstein still retains much of its medieval charms. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Durinstein still retains much of its medieval charms. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Shopkeepers opened their stores just for us. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Shopkeepers opened their stores just for us. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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