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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas cruise on the Danube River - Dec 20th.....

 AMA Waterways presented a nice breakfast buffet in the main dining room.  They fixed eggs and egg omelets as requested and it was also possible to order off a menu (waffles, eggs Benedict).  The buffet had all the usual items - Champaign and juices, cereals, bread, sweet rolls and pastries, bacon and sausages, cold cuts including sliced salmon, hash browns, yogurt and fresh berries.  There was also a daily smoothie of different flavors presented in small glasses.  The breakfast special today was waffles with cherry compote, which I had with bacon and hash browns.
Then we had a walking tour of Durnstein, which is a very quaint town popular in the tourist season for two reasons -  wine and apricots, and gained its name from the castle which overlooked it.  The town was first mentioned in 1192 when the castle above it was used by Leopold V, Duke of Austria to imprison King Richard I of England.   To free King Richard, England paid an enormous fortune of 65,000 pounds of silver, which was two to three times the annual income of the English Crown.  Another noteworthy site is Durnstein Abbey which was established in 1410, and remains intact.  The adjacent convent is in ruins.  

During the tourist season, Europeans visit Durnstein for their apricot-based products, which include soap, desserts, sweets, jams, wine and liqueurs.  
We had a wine tasting at the Abbey, which is used as a winery today.  We tasted some of their white wines - one had a light apple flavor; and another a mature peppery-apple taste that had an agreeably long-lasting fruity and peppery aftertaste.  We sampled a Riesling with a fine apricot and orange flavor rounded off with a touch of residual sugar.  They also served a red wine, but it lacked the substance of red wines from warmer climates. 
There was an interesting cemetery near the front gate to the town.  Space is very limited to bury the recently deceased, so the bones of those buried after a hundred years are removed and placed in a crypt along with all the others who have been buried.  A large pile of bones have been accumulated over the centuries.

The temperatures have been relatively mild so far except for a few instances when the winds were strong.  But now it seems to be getting much colder, but still not yet quite freezing.

For lunch,  I just had some snacks in the lounge.  They served some onion tarts and small pieces of sliced pork meatloaf - they were both very tasty.  They passed out white wine and soda water, and for dessert, we had apricot dumplings with cherry compote.  Afterwards, they served eggnog with vodka and cinnamon powder.  I had more good food and drinks, served more frequently, than on any other river cruise that I have been on.

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco

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