Dear Abbey

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July 29th 2008
Published: September 30th 2017
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Leaving Hallstatt.
Geo: 48.2271, 15.3296

Breakfast - today, they served a warm cream cheese strudel topped with raisins. Most likely, it was leftover dessert from yesterday, from the guest house's restaurant. It was soggy and probably microwaved; it was decent but might have been very good had it been fresh.

They had some really good plain buns; I cut back on the meat and cheese today and instead went pretty hard on the homemade preserves. There were also some good poppyseed buns, but they were pretty bad with the preserves - I didn't notice until too late, but there was tons of salt sprinkled on them. Everybody in Hallstatt must have high blood pressure with the amount of salt they ingest!

On the boat to the train station - somebody finally guessed that I'm Chinese, and not Korean or Japanese! As I finished putting on my backpack and readied to get off, I felt somebody lift up on my backpack. I turn around and this girl from Hong Kong says to me "It's heavy!", almost startled that I noticed what she was doing. Ok ... guess she didn't think I would feel it? A little weird, but seemed to be a nice girl. But it

Came across a little deli where I had ham/cheese/tomato/zucchini quiche - a little mushy and watery, but it had good flavour, especially with the kebab sauce that came with it ... mmm ... kebab sauce ... good on anything ... The quiche came with pickled shredded carrots and sauerkraut (pretty good kraut, but I'm still not a big fan of it). Lunch was a nice change of pace from what I've recently been eating.
made me wonder - how can I get random Spanish women to touch me while I'm traveling?

As we waited to board the train, some guy quickly hopped off, and got his straps stuck on the door, and almost fell as he walked away and the straps became taut. I couldn't help but laugh - he groped blindly behind him, trying to free himself, but couldn't see how the straps were caught. Somebody ended up helping him free himself. It was almost like watching a turtle that got overturned on its shell, with its legs flailing in the air.

The train briefly stopped in Blindenmarkt, where the air was terribly polluted and smelled like manure. Not a very pleasant stop ... polluted air sucks, and so does manure-scented air, but it's a whole level of nastiness when both are combined!

Melk was VERY hot when I arrived - mid 30s, probably. The only reason for me coming to Melk was to visit its abbey - the view as I exited the train station was stunning. Perched atop a hill and overlooking the town, it's a sight that you need to see for yourself, because it can't be adequately described.

It was

Souvenir shops around town - Cheryl, it's the German version of your favourite game!
a hot walk to the hostel, and even hotter once I got there - it was like an oven inside! I dropped off my bag, bought one of those apple sodas that is so popular in Germany and Austria (this stuff really isn't all that refreshing), and walked into town.

Change of plans today - originally, I wanted to take a scenic cruise all the way to the town of Krems, and then train back from there. But I think it'll be too hot on the boat, and I also feel a bit drained today. Returning from Krems is also a pain in the butt, with multiple changes, and needing to switch between trains and buses.

I had a lot of trouble with the heat today. I really don't know how I survived my first trip to Spain - if I can't handle temperatures in the mid-30s, how the heck did I survive temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s in Spain? Oh, that's right - I survived because Spanish women are quite the refreshing sight!

I hiked up to the Abbey - the interior definitely wasn't as impressive as the exterior. I wasn't overly impressed with the Abbey

Melk's Rathaus plaza, I think.
museum's exhibits, but I must say that I was quite impressed by a fellow tourist that can only be described as the Austrian version of Rachel McAdams. The only thing more impressive than that would probably be the Spanish version of Rachel McAdams! I finished up in the Abbey's church, which was quite nice, and went for a stroll in the park out back. More of a forest than a park, it was definitely worth a longer visit, but I was short on both energy and time.

Instead of doing the cruise all the way to Krems, I compromised by doing the mini Wachau Valley cruise, which goes round trip to the town of Spitz. I'll likely miss the most scenic parts of the Danube, but really didn't care. I purchased my ticket for the cruise, and only after it departed did I realize that I could have shown my rail pass to receive a 20% discount (about three Euros). Those three Euros could have been used to buy three servings of gelato, a kebab, or a thimble full of Norwegian toilet water!

I was dying, waiting for the boat to depart - I managed to find a tiny bit of

shade on board, but there was absolutely no wind today, so I sat there, basting in my own sweat until it departed. The air quality around here isn't that great, either. The Danube flows pretty quickly and the ride to Spitz is downstream, so things cooled off a bit once the boat started to move.

The cruise was pretty boring - I wondered if I should have just come to Melk to see the Abbey, and gone straight to Munich tonight. Staying here seemed to have been a bit of a waste, until I remembered that seeing the Austrian version of Rachel McAdams had made everything worthwhile ...

Back in town, I wandered around the souvenir shops. I haven't found any decent fridge magnets in a quite a while - nothing good in Fussen, Nueschwanstein, Baden Baden, here ... well, I guess I did find some OK ones in Baden Baden but they were outrageously expensive. Needing some new reading material, I also checked out a bookstore, but there was NO way I was going to pay 10-15 Euros for a paperback! Hopefully the hostel has a book exchange - I haven't really encountered any good ones recently.

I had

Inside the courtyard of Melk's Abbey.
dinner, and took a stroll, where I noticed a few signs for cheap accommodations in town - two can sleep in a guest house for 50 Euros (not including breakfast), which per person, is only a few euros more than the hostel. A pretty good deal, all things considered.

I used some relatively cheap internet (4 Euros per hour vs 6 Euros at the hostel) for only a short while because the tiny little mouse made it difficult to surf. Back to the hostel, where I exchanged my book for "Shogun" - I've always wanted to read it, but was a bit put off because it's a huge book. I don't really want to carry any more weight than I need to, but there weren't any other interesting English-language books available.

I started to read it this evening, as there was nothing else to do in town or in the hostel. At least my room was down in the basement so while a bit dank, it was quite cool. I hope the book survives the rest of the trip - it was missing both front and back covers and will eventually fall apart.

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24



Fountain in the abbey, stocked with fish. If I saw something like this in expensive Scandinavia, I would have dove in and tried to eat a few.

I think this is the marble hall.

The Abbey's church.

Interior of the church.

Close-up of some of the church's bling.

Inside the abbey's gift shop - I don't think the title of this book makes it an appropriate gift for anyone, unless you happen to hate that person.

Can't take a decent photo of the abbey? Then just take a photo of a decent photo of the abbey!

Beautiful baroque pavilion in the the Abbey's park.

Overly-erotic monkey statue in the abbey park.

On my way to the docks, I picked up some banana gelato - a nice flavour, but it wasn't creamy enough. But with how over-heated I felt, something cool and refreshing was most welcome.

The view of the abbey from below - stunning in person, but kind of blah in this photo.

The cruise to Spitz - there was some significance to this castle, but I can't remember what.

On the ferry - a piece of discarded bread. Had I seen that after starving myself in Scandinavia, I would've been all over that.

Note to residents of Melk: A gassy ass and a spark can be an explosive, and deadly combination.

Dinner was at Don Camilo, an Italian/Greek joint. I sampled some local beer, which was OK. I went for the lamb skewers - very dry, it was served with some hard rice (nice lemon flavour), half a roasted tomato (blah), and a roasted pepper that was sliced up and resembled an octopus. A salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers was served with a nice yogurt dressing. I noticed a table of guys eating pizza with ketchup - I wondered if it's what the locals normally do, or if the pizza was that bad.

After dinner I picked up some After Eight and mohn (some type of flower) gelato. Both were ok, but nothing special - forgettable, like the meal.

Only moments earlier, this kid was hugging the giant ice cream cone. Very funny and cute when a kid does it, but could you imagine how embarrassing it would be for an adult to try it?

Uh ... uh ... it must have been embarrassing for this guy in Poland who happens to bear a striking resemblance to me ...

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