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Viking Spirit European River Cruise Journal - Budapest to Nuremberg

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5 of 10

Cruising the Danube River through the Wauchau Valley of Austria
Schonbuhel Castle on the Danube River in Austria

Schonbuhel Castle on the Danube River in Austria

Wachau Valley on the Danube River (c) Linda Garrison
When we awoke our fourth morning on the Danube, the Viking Spirit was sailing through beautiful countryside and surrounded by tree-covered mountains. Around each bend in the river there seemed to be an ancient castle, quaint village, or steeply terraced vineyard. We were sailing along the 24-mile long picturesque Danube Wachau Valley of Austria between Melk and Krems. The Wauchau Valley is a narrow gorge where the Danube flows between the foothills of the Bohemian Massif and the Dunkelsteiner Woods.

As the Viking Spirit cruised upstream, we passed several picturesque villages with steepled churches reaching for the sky, including Krems, Split, and Willendorf.

The most famous Wauchau Valley village is Durnstein, home of the castle where Richard the Lionhearted was kept prisoner in 1193. The ruins of the castle remain high on a bluff overlooking the Danube. We passed Durnstein while eating breakfast, and I had to make a mad dash and retrieve my camera from the cabin. Fortunately, on the Viking Spirit, everywhere is nearby, so I didn't miss the photo opportunity.

Shortly before arriving in Melk, we passed the Schonbuhel Castle, which is often called the "Watchman of the Wachau". Schonbuhel has stood on a rocky outcropping overlooking the Danube for 1100 years. The castle was owned by the Bishops of Passau and was rebuilt in the 19th century.

We arrived in Melk in mid-morning.

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