The captain dropped the moorings in Vienna just before midnight and the following dawn saw the vessel safely tied up at the lovely little village of Durnstein. I was up early and watched the sunlight redden the rocks on the hillside, then the walls of the ruined castle above the town. Remember the story of Richard I (Lionheart) who was detained in a German castle on the way home from the Crusades? His loyal minstrel, Blondel, found where the king was incarcerated by playing Richard’s favourite songs at castles until one day Richard sang along. Or so the story goes. A respected historian told me that actually, Richard was gay and had a dalliance with his ‘captor’. Although they clear;y ended up having a lovers’ tiff, because the English had to pay a LOT of money to buy their king’s freedom.
And the point of the story is that’s the castle; that ruin on the hillside. It’s possible to climb up there and admire the view, but I passed. (Not as young as I used to be, and even less fit). And that’s something to note. River cruising might sound like a very leisurely type of holiday but that’s a matter of how you take it. We walked many kilometres every single day. Many of those kilometres were on cobbled streets. There were stairs, and steep slopes. Here at Durnstein the only part of the area that was flat was the pathway along the river. From there it was uphill all the way. It’s a choice, of course. We could have stayed on the boat, or kept to the path by the river and not gone up (and I do mean up) into the town. But we would have missed out.
We didn’t need a bus for this visit. Durnstein was a couple of hundred metres away, and we were issued with a map. Cherie told us that if we got lost at Durnstein there was no hope for us and we’d be confined to the ship for the rest of the trip.
Durnstein is known for wine and apricots. They make particularly fine apricot schnaps. I tasted a sample of an apricot liqueur in one of the village shops. Verra nice. Verra nice indeed.
This place was so picturesque I hardly knew what to do with myself. So I’ll shut up and let the pictures speak. Click here for part 2 – the Wachau Valley and Melk