One of the most enjoyable things about our Danube River Cruise was how much Christmas spirit it inspired. The cold weather, the decorations, the music, the food, the Austrian and German Christmas customs…all of these combined to put us in a holiday frame of mind.
In my Part 1 post, I shared about our time in Vienna. It was evening when our ship left Vienna and we traveled through the night arriving the following morning in Krems, Austria where we spent a few hours before heading on to Melk. Krems is a charming medieval town with beautiful churches, historic buildings, and quaint cobblestone streets.
A highlight of our brief time there was the lovely baroque Church of St. Nicolas.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch aboard while our ship traveled on to Melk, a picturesque village upriver from Krems. This was the view as we arrived.
While in Melk, we toured the Benedictine Abbey locate high on a hill above the city, another beautiful religious edifice.
Photos inside the sanctuary were prohibited. However, in the gift shop they were available for sale. The sun was already fading as we finished our tour of the abbey.
The following day was one of my favorite days of the entire cruise. We participated in an optional excursion to Salzburg, the Sound of Music city. We were bused to Salzburg and along the way we saw several locations that were used in the movie. Then we had time to explore Salzburg before heading to Oberndorf. Salzburg is also where Mozart was born and lived as a child. And Salzburg loves Mozart!
Salzburg is a beautiful city and one of my favorite stops of our tour. We spent our time there visiting shops and the Christmas market. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with a festive holiday atmosphere.
In Oberndorf, we toured the memorial chapel constructed on the former site of the St. Nicola church where Silent Night was first performed in 1818.
After our time at the memorial chapel. we were taken to a nearby church and treated to a performance of Silent Night in German and English performed as the original first performance was, two men, one guitar accompanying the voices.
Following the performance, we enjoyed glühwein and stolen served in the courtyard. Then we boarded the bus and continued on to rejoin the ship in Passau. We arrived in time for dinner. Every evening our cruise director, Helmut, would preview the events of the next day and give us background information about the places we’d be visiting as well as the Christmas customs of Austria and Germany. The evenings also included activities and/or entertainment. The day we visited Salzburg and Oberndorf was December 6th, St. Nicholas’ Day. On this day, Austrian children receive small treats. Our evening ended when we returned to our stateroom to find a little treat waiting on our pillows.
I’ll be back with a final installment about our Christmas Markets river cruise on Wednesday.