Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 52 miles, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Walking up to 2 miles, approximately 2 hours; uneven sidewalks, cobblestones.
We will step off the ship and board a motorcoach for a field trip to Stift Melk — Melk Abbey — where a local expert will lead our exploration through one of the most famous monastic sites in the world. While the monastic community dates back more than 900 years, the magnificent Baroque ensemble we see was built from 1702-1736. We will walk through this huge complex of the Benedictine Abbey dominating the countryside, ending in the impressive library with countless medieval manuscripts. We will also have some independent time to visit the opulent Abbey church. The interior is covered in marble, gilded wood, a golden pulpit, and colorful frescoes swathed in light. We’ll ride back to the ship after our field trip.
After our arrival in Dürnstein, we will set out on a walking field trip with our Group Leader to the center of this picturesque little village surrounded by vineyards. It was here in 1192 that Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned and held for ransom in the castle that was almost completely destroyed 453 years later. We will also have some time for independent exploration to see and do what interests each of us most. Returning to the ship, we will gather for a lecture by our Group Leader on the history of Central Europe.
We will be joined by a local expert for a lecture on Mozart, Schubert, Strauss, and learn about the very diverse lives of three of Vienna’s best loved composers. Wolfgang Amadé Mozart — the name he called himself — achieved renown as a child prodigy, brilliant young pianist, and composer, but later struggled financially and suffered from a variety of illnesses. Franz Schubert, whom we revere today for his masterful songs, symphonies, masses, and chamber music, was relatively unrecognized outside his own circle of friends and colleagues, suffered illness, and died penniless. Johann Strauss (the Elder), however, was a leading conductor, composer of popular dance music, and one of the first international superstars of music. The lecture will enhance the presentation with live performance of selected works by all three composers with artists from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The ship will remain docked in Vienna overnight.