Bike Ride from Durnstein to Melk, Austria
Picturesque Vinyards and Villages Up Close and Personal

June 25, 2008
Posted July 7, 2008
2008, Herbert E. Lindberg

Soon after boarding the M/S Swiss Sapphire we noticed eight bicycles on deck which were available for off-ship touring by passengers.   Co-passenger Bill Ponder took the action of having Cruise Director Lynn Hardcastle announce that anyone interested in bicycle touring should add their name to a list at the front desk.  Five of us signed up: Bill Ponder, Amy Beckwith, Herb Lindberg (me), and Jerry & Kim Medlin.  Soon after, Tour Director Cindy Walker used her knowledge of daily logistics to suggest that a good day for a bicycle tour would be June 25, when the ship stopped for a general tour of Durnstein and then stopped again about 30 km along the river at Melk.  After the general Durnstein tour we would ride our bikes from Durnstein generally south to Melk while everyone else re-boarded the ship and cruised on the Danube between these towns.

The pictures that follow are larger than most on this site in order that those on tour can download them and print pictures in 4.70-inch by 3.525-inch size at 200 ppi resolution, or somewhat larger, for example 6.27-inch by 4.70-inch size at 150 ppi resolution.  At this large size the pictures are best viewed with your browser set to "full screen" (press F11).   To return to normal screen press F11 again.  If you would like to see a slide show with the pictures below presented in full screen with zooms, pans, and music, click below.


This two to three hour bike ride was my high point of the cruise, since I wanted most to see typical Austrian farming villages up close and personal.  It took me about 2.5 hours because I stopped many times to take these pictures, and also took a few wrong turns which had me travel a few kilometers farther than the rest.

An early section of the bicycle route was a road that wended among the vinyards and tree-covered hills.
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Typical farm house among the vinyards.
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Side road leading up to a vinyard, and to a farm house in the background.
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According to Google Maps we passed through the following villages as we traveled southwest along the northwest side of the river: Durnstein, Weissenkirchen in der Wachau, Wosendorf in der Wachau, Spitz, Schwallenbach, Willendorf in der Wachau, Groisbach, Aggsbach, Grimsing, Shallemmersdorf, and finally Melk.  I remember seeing most of these names on signposts.

One of about eight to ten villages along the 30-km route.
The bike route followed the north and west side of the river, but at many places wended up and down hills through these villages.
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A zoomed view of the same scene.
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Bill Ponder and Jerry Medlin as they enter another village.
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The intrepid bikers (left to right): Herb Lindberg, Amy Beckwith, Jerry Medlin, Kim Medlin, and Bill Ponder.
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Herb Lindberg and Jerry Medlin stop to have Kim take a picture among the beautiful vinyards and hills.
My Canon Elph camera pouch is on my belt while Kim used the camera for this picture.
The bikes were identical 30-pound monsters with no gears and no handbrakes -- Mac trucks compared with personal road bikes.
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We approach another small village (the couple in front are strangers to us).
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M/S Swiss Sapphire passed us about half way to Melk.  We waved and the captain sounded the ship's horn.
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This hotel was right on the bike route road in one of the larger villages.
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Even this small village had a massive church, a typical combination along the entire cruise route.
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A castle on a hill at another village.
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Narrow streets are also typical, many dating back to the Middle Ages around 800 AD.
And another church!
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Flat-land farms have other crops than grapes.  Corn is common, but not here.
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