The cruise from Melk to Durnstein along the Danube was a panoramic fantasy. It is that long sweep of the Danube between Krems and Melk known as “the Wachau” and it is truly lovely, a valley out of a fairytale realm. Too bad I can’t upload the video I took of entering Durnstein.
Having been told of a fabled bone box in the cemetery of the old church in the village, my friends and I hied off to walk what we thought was the road leading to the cemetery. It was a steep path that got steeper and steeper until my heart said “Sit your butt down now!.” Turns out we were on the path to the medieval ruins of Durnstein Castle where King Richard I of England was held prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria.
After a quick consult at Legend’s reception desk, with evening descending, we went off again in search of the bone box. We were determined. Once again we found ourselves on a steep path to nowhere until Neal spotted an old wall and gate tucked around a curve back down at the start of the path, practically hidden by the lay of the road. The old cemetery! We stepped through the unlocked gate into a garden of well-kept tombs blooming with rose bushes sheltering long-buried families of Durnstein, in the looming shadow of an ancient church. (Unfortunately, for some reason the cemetery photos I took won’t import from my camera, despite iPhoto insisting all photos have been imported! So frustrating!) Luck wasn’t with us, as it turns out. A construction wall closed off the area where the bone box was said to be. Dagnabit! We soothed our disappointment with a rest at the riverbank before strolling back to the ship for dinner.
The Wachau Valley still has its medieval landscape with outcroppings of castle ruins, monuments to the age of knights, hills thickly bearded with forest, and charming red-roofed, white-walled towns threaded by aged streets of cobblestones.