This story is based on the impressions and observations of a press trip on the A-Rosa Riva.
1. Boarding and departing
In Engelhartszell the Danube appears like a small lake, the water is calm and shines in the late October sunlight. The river banks are lined with vineyards, autumn forests in shimmering shades of yellow and red, and small villages.
Here, the A-Rosa Riva lies at anchor, just waiting to begin her voyage.
On the elegant quarterdeck, the freshly arrived passengers take a drink. Relaxed, they chit-chat in the warm October air. Some guests wander curiously and diligently taking photos across the upper deck; there is the best view of the landscape there, which gently nestles against the river like a golden-green ribbon.
Smells and aromas of grilled meat, fresh fish and oven-fresh baked goods float out of the ship’s restaurant, a light appetite making itself noticeable.
A brief introduction to the Danube. With a total length of 2857 kilometres, it is the longest and largest river in Europe after the Volga. It flows through or touches ten countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) – more than any other river on earth. The Danube is one of the oldest and most important European Trade Routes. Already in early historical times, it served as a transport route for trade goods such as furs, which were mostly still transported along the river on simple rafts. In recent decades, cruise shipping on the Danube has developed into an important economic factor. In the past, the Danube flowed through Vienna just as it liked, a problem for the city; in 1875, the river was regulated. (Source: Wikipedia)
The 2174 horsepower of the A-Rosa Riva sets the ship in motion until it finally glides smoothly towards Vienna.
The ship has 100 outside cabins, a length of 124.5 m and a width of 14.4 m, and was built at the Neptun shipyard in Rostock Warnemünde.
In the meantime, I also do my round on the upper deck, a gentleman in a windproof outfit cheerfully tests his skills on the putting green. He doesn’t seem to be entirely satisfied with his attempts: three over par, an outright triple bogey! But that doesn’t bother him or the audience. He puts the putter to one side and reaches for the champagne glass to plunge it down in one gulp.
I toast him through the air and take a big sip from the glass myself.
In the restaurant we have an excellent steak and a glass of red wine, then we go back to the cabin. A beach scene with a large dune hangs on the wall. With the glass doors open, the mild river breeze flows in.
A wondrous relaxing moment.
All of a sudden, perception changes, days of relaxation and distraction lie ahead. The time factor loses its significance.
A sympathetic voice sounds from the cabin loudspeaker:
“Dear guests of the A-Rosa Riva, we are delighted to welcome you on board. Today there is the only obligatory meeting, each of you should be there, it is about the ship’s safety, we will all meet at 17:45 in the lounge” and further: “In addition, our captain invites you to a welcome drink, we want to toast the journey together”.
In the evening there is a wonderful buffet. Later, there is still drinking and partying in the lounge. A beautiful ship, relaxed people, the magnificent landscape. The best conditions for a wonderful journey.
2. Dürnstein by Danube
I am awake early and watch the enchanting sunrise on the upper deck. Except for the steady sound of the engines, deep in the belly of the ship, all is silence. Dawn slowly creeps in and you suddenly feel disconnected from the rest of the world. The water is almost smooth, light waves draw structures in the river. Iridescent whirlpools flash on the surface of the water, disappear again and reappear surprisingly elsewhere.
The light becomes stronger, now the Danube reflects the autumnal landscape in countless soft colours. Finally, the sun rises and bathes the forests, meadows, vineyards and water in glistening light. An unforgettable moment.
The A-Rosa Riva docks in Weißenkirchen.
Nearby is the small village of Dürnstein with its tiny alleys and the collegiate church with its famous blue and white baroque tower.
Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in Dürnstein Castle from 21 December 1192 to 4 February 1193; it is still preserved today in picturesque, mighty ruins. During his reign, the monarch stayed in England for only six months. One of his aims was to recapture Jerusalem during the 3rd Crusade, he failed in his endeavour. On 28 December 1192, Emperor Henry VI informed the French King Philip II of Richard’s capture.
He informed him that he had now apprehended the “enemy of our empire and the troublemaker of your empire”.
In 1710, the Abbot Hieronymus Übelbacher decided to baroqueise the old monastery in Dürnstein. At that time, the building was in a poor condition. The interior and exterior design is by the architects and master builders Joseph Munggenast, Jakob Prandtauer and Matthias Steinl. The blue and white tower of the collegiate church is striking.
The tower is covered with precious reliefs of the Passion of Christ. A baroque gem!