Our guide started the day with a story: in Europe, heaven is a place where police are British, mechanics are German, cooks are French, lovers are Italian, and everything is organized by the Swiss. (I should have been Swiss.) On the other hand, hell is where police are German, mechanics are French, cooks are British, lovers are Swiss and everything is organized by the Italians. Both our guide and our driver are Italian (!) but they're pretty good at keeping things organized, so I guess stereotypes don't always hold true.
They certainly need to be organized, because we covered an awful lot of Austria today. First we drove to Mondsee, where we toured the church that was used for the wedding scenes in The Sound of Music (we really should watch that movie someday). Then it was on to Melk, where we saw the famous Benedictine abbey. Originally founded in 1089, the present building dates from the early 18th century. Very impressive.
Melk is also where we began a short cruise down the Danube past beautiful forests, quaint villages, and the occasional medieval castle. The highlight for me was seeing the ruins of Durnstein Castle, where King Richard the Lionheart was held captive in 1193. Admittedly, it was just a bunch of rocks, but the history nerd in me found it pretty cool.
And at last we made it to Vienna! City tour tomorrow…