“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Budapest” (Day 8 (II))

April 25

[So, we’re in Melk, Austria.  Even as a degreed geography major, I have to admit until this trip I’d never heard of it.  And I don’t know if it’s just a family thing or our interpretation of the Minnesota accent, but when we say I’d like a nice glass of milk, we say, “I’d like a nice glass of milk, that’s M-E-L-K!”  Here we’re on the bus to see what Melk is ‘famous’ for, it’s Benedictine Abbey.]

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[Pretty town on the drive through . . . ]

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[And here we’re tumbling down to the abbey.]

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[It turns out to be quite the 900-year old place.]

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[And Pam grabs a photo-op accordingly.]

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[Here our concierge, Mirjana, brings our plane in for a 3-point landing.]

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[Our guide is telling us that even at its peak, this huge abbey only housed a small number of monks, and today it’s about half that (13?).  With diminishing church attendance across Europe, there is difficulty attracting people to the priesthood – he noted his local parish hasn’t had a permanent priest in over 20 years.]

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[It’s a place of historical splendor and is maintained by donation and tour groups like ours.]

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[Never pass up an opportunity for a mirrored-selfie . . . particularly when you’re surrounded by mirrors!]

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[What do you think of this outfit?]

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[Was this an extravagant lock?  Dr. Kiehne, the engineer, was otherwise engaged.]

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[A model of how the monastery looms over the city.]

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[And then came our biggest snow squall of the entire trip!]

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[A frescoed ceiling.]

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[And it’s really coming down now!]

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[And then we worked our way down a long spiral staircase.]

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[I believe it was right before the stairwell that we went through the library containing about 80,000 medieval manuscripts.  It was indeed a strikingly impressive room.  No photos were allowed, though I don’t know why – there are plenty like the following available on the internet.]

Melk Abbey Library, Austria

Melk Abbey Library, Austria

[I have no idea.]

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[The abbey church was quite spectacular.  There is a tie between this place and our very own St. John’s of Collegeville – their common Benedictine-ness.]

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[Oy, whaddya think of this place?]

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[As we exited the church, we were momentarily outside before we were ushered back in at the gift shop.  In our collective rushes for a restroom, most people missed this (and if you entered the gift shop, you couldn’t get back out to here) – a courtyard with a spectacular view.]

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[I called Tom over to provide perspective to what turned out to be my favorite photo of the entire trip.  As we were just coming out of the snow squall, I would have loved to stay here for a while to shoot the ever changing distant sky.]

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[And the restrooms were somewhere down these impressively long hallways.]

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[The abbey was our only place of visit in Melk, but on our way back to the boat I caught Violeta shooting the high-water flood markings on this restaurant.]

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[And going down to the boat . . . ]

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[Where it was party time!]

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[Well, actually it was a Viking Explorer Society cocktail party – for those who had taken other Viking cruises.]

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[Here’s Katya, our boat’s hotel manager (German, and a real hoot), and our captain, with our new friends from the trip, Gerry and Anita.]

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[Sampling her Norwegian-heritage national beverage – aquavit.  As she has noted, it’s not the real thing unless it has crossed the equator at least three times.  And as I’ve previously noted, it can also be used as jet fuel.]

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[John admires the view from the window as we all await dinner.]

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[And shipboard’s daily weather briefing for our next four days.]

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There is no happiness for the person who does not travel. For Indra is the friend of the traveler, therefore wander!  ~ Brähmann

Up Next:  So, as you can see above, next stop – Passau.

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