Tuesday didn’t start brilliantly due to frictions within team Tim-Leo as to what we wanted out of the holiday that morning! We eventually wandered up to Melk Abbey which really is a spectacular building with lovely grounds – potentially very soul-restorative. We’d already had the very majestic sight of the huge welcoming golden orange edifice rising up above the town as we’d cycled along the Danube towards Melk the afternoon before and equally enjoyed it lit up and watching over the square the previous night. The actual museum aspect of it left something to be desired with relatively little information about the abbey but just wandering through and absorbing the abbey quarters, the actual church (pinks and golds seem to dominate Lower Austrian churches) and the grounds merited the visit in any case.
Then, after a little local Melk shopping including a delicatessen and the odd gift shop, we headed off back to the north bank now passing through the Wachau vineyards with me occasionally sampling the odd tasty plum off various roadside trees.
We spontaneously stopped just outside of Spitz at a little local Heuriger. Heurigen are local pubs which sell this year’s new wine and at very reasonable prices too. We also enjoyed a plentiful array of cheese and bread while there overlooking the luscious grape-filled valley. While there, a large piece of mystery fruit fell on me rather violently from a tree! But it sparked rather a nice chat with a local family who picked it up, pulled off the seemingly rotten flesh to reveal a large walnut underneath. I’m not normally a big fan of walnuts I must say but the fresh article turned out to be completely different – moist and tasty.
After the Heuriger, both a little tired and as we were already too late for the wine museum at our next stop, we then decided to call it a short day, stop at Spitz and enjoy a lazy evening and the following day, meander gently through the Wachau, sampling local wines, as far as Krems and then make our last day a mega-cycle (around 85km) back to Vienna.
What’s the saying about life being what happens when you make other plans?! Spitz essentially turned out not to be all that so we opted to continue on and ended up going all the way to Krems that evening, the advantage we thought being that we could stay there two nights, unpack and do our wine meandering with a lighter load. Also not to be. The best decent value hotel we could find turned out to be the very edge of town (the other side) and booked up the second night in any case (and the town itself wasn’t anything on the smaller characterful villages). However, a deluge of rain suddenly hit and we were just glad to have somewhere to collapse.
The journey had meant we’d passed through the Wachau at least and had a good idea of how we’d like to position ourselves the next day as we went back through it. And the rain did ease up so we ventured out and found a lovely traditional gastropub where we enjoyed two different Grüner Veltliners (one of the most prevalent local wines) and, what do you know, bumped into two chaps we’d met that morning in the Melk delicatessen when Tim had rescued their dropped bike keys! Then to one more hostelry for goulash, sausage and more wine before much needed bed.