Danube Odyssey, Part 10

Weltenburg Monastery Near Kelheim

 

 

1.Flights from Memphis to Budapest, Hungary

7. Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace and museums

2. Budapest Hilton

8.  Cruise on Danube River and Durnstein

3. Visit to Holloko Farming Village

9.  Mozart and Trapp family home of Salzburg

4. Budapest area attraction of Szentendre

10. Weltenburg Monastery near Kelheim

5. Visit to 13th Century Cathedral, Synagogue

11. Nuremberg and Nazi monuments

6. Dreary Bratislava and visit to painters' home

12. Flights from Nuremberg to Memphis

 

Index to Photos / Page Updated Jan. 19, 2008 - (More than 200 additional photos taken on the Nolans' two-week cruise through parts of Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia are posted in several Lewis Nolan albums at www.ritzpix.com, a website that requires sign-in)

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

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Nov. 23, 2007, Friday - At Weltenburg Monastery near Kelheim

 

The boat arrived at this scenic river town about 10 a.m., where the Danube is much narrower than downstream. Kelheim is an industrial

Betty by gigantic chess game in Salzburg

Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo

location, with many small plants and cranes dotting both sides of the river. After I had a leisurely breakfast of bacon and eggs with toast, cantaloupe and small glasses of Coca Lite and tomato juice, we sat through a long-winded, debarkation lecture about what to expect later in the day and also at the next day's stop at Nuremburg.

 

We had complimentary Bloody Mary drinks and a good lunch of gazpacho, salad, ham and cheese rollups and a small piece of deep-fried Hake fish. Afterwards, we boarded four tour buses for a short drive to the Weltenburg Monastery, a Benedictine Abbey that is 1,400 years old. It was a fabulous place built around a Baroque church that was completed in 1751.

 

A serving monk, complete with the cowl of his brown habit riding between his shoulder blades, gave us an interesting lecture inside the church. Father Leopold is 1 of 18 monks at Weltenburg. At age 40, he is the fourth oldest of an order that prays 5 times a day and reaches out to the community with much counseling and teaching work. From the size of the compound's residential building, I'd guess that the monastery once housed 100 or more monks.

 

Gigantic paintings and frescoes on the walls of the church represent the four last things mankind will experience - Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. The mighty four are symbolized by an empty beer mug and the four seasons. An excellent dark beer has been brewed for nearly 1,000 years at the monastery. Monk brewers have now been replaced by non-monk employees, who work with stainless steel vats and other modern equipment.

 

Interestingly, in one of the church's four interior bays a fresco of Columbus landing in America is depicted, with the explorer accompanied by missionaries dressed as Benedictine monks led by the Virgin Mary. Elsewhere, angels are shown in carved stone and in paintings in the

Weltenburg Monastery on banks of Danube

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handsome church's interior, which on this dreary day was rather cold and dark. We were told earlier, at Passau, that the architects of Germany's era of building great cathedrals intended to avoid making seating pews too comfortable lest worshippers might fall asleep.

 

St. George, patron saint of the Weltenburg Monastery, is depicted at the front of the church by a large statue showing an armed warrior killing a dragon while saving the king's daughter.

Our group visited the beer hall, where the award-winning brew Weltenburg Kostner was served to us at no charge. We were also served a plate containing two bratwurst sausages and a delicious pretzel the size of a man's hand. We were not asked to pay for the meal so I presume the tour company picked up the tab.

 

After walking from the gates of the monastery along the beautiful Danube for a half-mile or more to our bus, we were driven back to the boat. We cruised on a smaller excursion boat on the Danube, passing through a gorgeous, narrow section of the river called "Danube Gorge". White cliffs rose up steeply 400 feet on both sides of the river.

 

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