For our second week in Europe we enjoyed a river cruise along the Danube. This was our second cruise with Avalon Waterways and we have only good things to say about it. Delicious food, attentive staff, wonderful excursions, and so much more. We loved being able to slide open our stateroom windows and lean over the railing to watch the water drift by.
All river cruise boats are roughly the same width and length because of the lock system along the rivers. Balconies have to fit within that width and Avalon came up with the great idea of having the windows slide fully open to give the sensation of a balcony without losing space within the room.
On our first morning we woke up to the sight of green forested hills, utter quiet, and a small village, Engelhartszell, dominated by the Trappist Monastery. Founded in the late 1200s, the monastery has had its ups and downs with changing politics, religious differences, and fires.
Tim and I took an early morning stroll around the village of well-tended homes and gardens. The blue building above is so beautifully maintained with its detailed paint work, and was built in 1598, according to the sign.
Later, we toured the Monastery and learned more about its history. The church is a beauty, rebuilt in the 1700s in Rococo style. The ceiling fresco above contrasts dramatically with the one below.
In the 1950s a fire destroyed part of the interior of the church, including one of the ceiling frescoes. The monks were told there was no money for restoring it in the style of the other frescoes, so a local artist, using the same paint colours, created a cubist fresco in 1957. I like the way it reflects the changing times of history although the differences were quite startling when I first walked into the building.
The monks began producing beer and cheese to augment their living. Although the production is now done by others as the monks are aging, the beer is still produced locally. We tasted three of them - I barely sipped as I don't really like beer at all. However, the cheese was great! They also produce a local apricot schnapps, and we brought a bottle of that home with us.
In the afternoon we set sail downriver. Beautifully kept fields slipped by, cows munched contentedly, and the occasional castle dominated the hills. It was pure relaxation and loveliness.
Linking to Mosaic Monday hosted by Angie of Letting Go of the Bay Leaf.