Today started somewhat like yesterday, rainy and cloudy. Kind of depressing really. I headed to Starbucks for my morning cup of joe. I know I really should find a local coffee house but Starbucks is a block away, and after being gone so long, it’s somewhat comforting. Besides, they even have the marble loaf or lemon loaf that I get at the Starbucks at home.

Anyway a British chap struck up a conversation with me.  Initially light politics but evolved into other things. He lives here in Vienna with his Austrian wife and child. Anyway, it kind of reminded me of one of those conversations or chance meetings that you see in spy movies where either our side is trying to recruit the protagonist (me) or the Russians are.

He was a Brit but had gone to school at University of Tennessee, worked at a summer camp in N.C. near Asheville (Brevard), studying German (on his way to his language lesson), etc…

If I actually had an important job or knew anything classified (it’s been over 15 years since I had a security clearance) I’d be suspicious. On the other hand, if I run into him again….

So since it was rainy and I didn’t want to walk around Vienna in the rain, the plan was to catch the 12:04 train to Melk, a village about 1:20 train ride away that has a Benedictine Abbey. The train left from the Vienna West train station (Wien Westbahnhof). I really didn’t leave myself enough time from leaving my hotel to make the train. It required two different underground lines with a transfer in between.

A word about the underground here. It’s great. I bought a 72 hour pass the night I got here and am determined to get my money’s worth (at 1.70 Euro per ticket bought individually I shouldn’t have a problem). As I think I said before, it’s clean, safe, easy to figure out. Also the wait between trains seems to be no more than 3-4 minutes.

Anyway I make it to the Wien Westbahnhof with literally 5-6 minutes to spare. Find a ticket machine and buy my ticket with return. Cost about 29Euros. (Trains seem to be more expensive here than in Italy). Now I have to find my train and as in Italy, the tracks just advertise the final destination. I fall back to choosing the train that has the departure time as mine, 12:04, and as I’m walking up to it I see the conductor get off. 

“Sprechen Sie Englisch” (do you speak English) I ask the conductor. “Ein bisschen” he replies. (Hey, you shouldn’t ask the question in German if you don’t want the reply in German). Fortunately this is one of the 3-4 phrases that I know from my whole 8 lessons of German and I know that it means “a little” or “a bit”. I confirm that this is the train to Melk, that all seats are 2nd class (cheap seats but nice) and I hop on with a minute or two to spare. The train leaves on time, without fanfare or announcement. Around here (and Italy as well) if you’re slow, perpetually running late, watch is set wrong, or are just stupid, you’re going to miss the train.


Austrian Regional Train. This is one I returned on from Melk

Austrian Regional Train. This is one I returned on from Melk

So an hour and twenty minutes later I’m in the small village of Melk. The abbey is huge and on a hillside overlooking the village.


Only a small portion of the abbey

Only a small portion of the abbey


View of Melk from the Abbey

View of Melk from the Abbey

I found my way to the abbey, paid the 7.50 Euro ticket price and started on a self guided tour. For an extra 2 Euros you can get a guided tour. I would have done that but I though that they were just in German. Later I heard an English speaker leading one so I was probably wrong.

Anyway, the Abbey is huge but only a few rooms are open for the tour (along with the gardens, etc): several rooms of museum displays, a library, and the church. The church was amazing, huge, gold everywhere, etc. Really can’t describe it as you had to be there. It didn’t say you couldn’t take pictures in the church but I didn’t. My camera does make a bit of noise (the mirror on an SLR) and it really didn’t seem appropriate.

Several of the pictures taken from the museum:


From the library

From around the grounds:

Ceiling Fresco


After I was done with the self guided tour, I walked around the grounds a bit, then caught the 16:36 train back to Vienna. It’s probably a really nice place in the summer time or on a nice fall day. The leaves are changing so fall is in the air here; we just need some sunshine.

Thinking about going to Salzburg tomorrow (Friday) but I’m fairly tired. The train trip is 2.5 hours each way, plus somewhat expensive, which wouldn’t be a big deal but I don’t think tomorrow is going to be a nice day either. Saturday is but I’m leaving that morning.

I’ll try to get one more blog in tomorrow afternoon or evening, depending on where I go explore or shoot.


~ by l on October 16, 2008.

One Response to “Melk”

  1. Bob
    The salt mine tours (or the Sound of Music tour, you know you know all the songs by heart) are awesome, it’s one of my favorite memories from my youth, I am as happy as a little girl when I think of it, speaking of which, did you see Dieter?

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