Melk is a small town in the Wachau Valley of Austria, located on the Danube river. It is a popular stop with river cruises due to the Benedictine Abbey located there. The population isn’t much over 5,000 people but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. The first thing you will notice once you leave the lovely forested banks of the Danube is the imposing Melk Abbey, perched above the town and dominating the landscape. Your river cruise will bus you up to the abbey to begin with and from there you can have a leisurely stroll down to the old town which is small, neat and full of charm. When it is time to head back to the ship, it is a short walk from the old town and over a bridge with beautiful views of the Abbey, from there a short scenic stroll back to the dock.
We visited Melk for the second time on our last river cruise, we opted to just spend our time in town because we had already visited the Abbey on the previous trip. We were told not to expect much to do because it was a Sunday and a holiday, but sometimes we are okay with strolling empty streets just taking in the architecture and small details. This turned out to be one of the nicest days of our trip, a leisurely day in a beautiful Austrian town doing a little shopping, sipping on the most amazing hot apricot punch and meeting some friendly locals.
We were pleasantly surprised to find a few of the local shops open, including a pottery shop whose artisan was busy making pieces and a shop carrying some of the local apricot liqueur. Somewhere along the way we were greeted by a very friendly local kitty who really wanted us to stay and socialize with her a bit, I am a total cat person so we obliged for a while. Even though I am typically a go, go, go and see, see, see kind of traveler, one of the nice things about not having plans and just meandering is that you can take your time, relax and if you find something worth spending a few extra minutes on, you can.
We visited during the Christmas season and Melk has a small Christmas market in the historic town center, which we were afraid would not be open during our short stop. After our stroll around the town we came back to the market to find the stalls opening. I decided to get a cup of gluhwein but passed the Melk Tennis Club’s stall where I was asked if I would like to try apricot punch, I am glad that I agreed to, I think it may be the best hot beverage available at any Christmas market. I had already purchased two cups of punch and was telling all of our friends from the cruise about it, as they began to filter in from their abbey tour, when I stumbled upon another friendly local, Horst. He was a member of the tennis club and told me I was their best apricot punch saleswoman, he even offered to buy me another cup of punch and who am I to turn down an offer like that? We enjoyed a nice chat over our punch, new friends were made and it was a nice and fitting ending to our short time in Melk.