To keep with the Shakespeare theme from the day before, on this Sunday we were off to tame the lion. Now there has never been a lion in the Wachau, but there has been Lionheart imprisoned in this area. Hence the name! Richard Lionheart was kept only about three months in the Dürnstein Castle, but in the end it was enough to create a memorable tale of these months.
We started at 11am with an excellent pick-up service from my place from Julia and Yuttey. The plan for the day was to drive to Krems, take the boat up to Dürnstein and later the train back. After a quick phone call with an ex-colleague from the area, we had a change of plan. We would still go to Krems, but from there take the boat to Spitz and back again. A boat ride on the Danube is a very tranquil and soothing experience. Nothing happens, just riding the not so blue waves and sitting with hundreds of other tourists.
Before we started the boat ride we still had time to visit Krems. This small city boasts an old center, a jewel in its own right. After buying the tickets we started with our tour through Krems.
Last year my office excursion began also in Krems and we went on to have a fabulous day. This was foreboding well for our day here, the Wachau is as you know on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Doesn’t the house look extremely narrow? And also a bit tilting to one side?
Finally it was time to get on the boat. By then it was around noon and quite hot. Nevertheless we decided to sit on the outer deck to enjoy the view and escape the stuffy, but air-conditioned interior. Which turned out to be the wrong choice because Julia came down with a sunstroke later that night. In decision-making we were not really lucky that day because we also ate on the boat instead of waiting to go to this really nice place my ex-colleague suggested in Spitz. No reason why not to eat low-quality food when you could have something way better at a later time except being near starvation (or a hang-over?). But hunger is the best cook and we more or less enjoyed it. While eating we passed Dürnstein, the village and the ruin. The ruin is, as said before, famous for the imprisonment of Richard Lionheart. And check out these vineyards along the river!
Upon our arrival in Spitz we made or way to the local church, beautiful and air-conditioned by nature. I think all churches are naturally cold, summer and winter!
Right after the church we crossed the square and walked into the first of many shops. The first one was less a shop than a private residence which displayed in its inner courtyard hundreds of fuchsias in all colors and sizes. The woman of the house also sold her jams made from the famous Wachau apricot, a term recognized by the European Union since 1996. The pastries looked all delicious and the one I tried tasted heavenly. I took home a strawberry jam with white chocolate and have enjoyed it the last couple of days on my breakfast toast.
With the boost of a cheese curd pastry we started up the little hill to look for the ruin in Spitz. The first 300 meters little shops lined the way where we sampled more local apricot delicacies. But after that we just kind of followed the way, never getting anywhere close to the ruin and in the end almost got lost in the vineyards while sweating in the sun.
As you can see we were high up and it looked pretty steep. First we thought we could just walk around the hill and come back to where we started but after a while we decided to turn back and make our way down no matter the decline. At last a wise decision, we made it back to the village without any injuries.
See, Ray even took a picture of the steep hill we ‘survived’. But don’t worry, the trail we followed was marked, so no damage done.
More shopping happening on the way to the boat, but in the end we had to board and leave for Krems.
This time we did sit in inside, Julia by then looked a bit like a lobster. One more glance at the Lionheart castle in passing while sampling the local wine and then we were almost back home.
Dinner was a tasty affair at Big Smoke which makes this place worthy of a separate post.