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A European Capital of Culture, Linz, Austria's third-largest city, welcomes you today with open arms and plenty to see and do. Depending on your arrival time, there's free time for shopping, exploring on your own, or joining an optional activity. This afternoon, board the Avalon Luminary and meet your friendly crew and fellow guests at a Welcome Reception.
As you slept, your ship arrived in the pretty market town of Engelhartszell near the German border. Step ashore and choose your activity:
* Visit the stunning rococo Engelszell Abbey to tour its brewery, explore its Sensory Garden, complete with stone labyrinth, herb garden, and vineyard and attend a tasting of locally produced cheeses and beer brewed by the Trappist monks.
* Join a fun guided hike along the route that smugglers took during World War II, when a tightly controlled border existed between Austria and Germany.
Back on your ship, an excellent lunch of Bavarian specialities will leave you energised and ready to join an exhilarating hike along The Danube. Fresh air and incredible vistas await as the Avalon Luminary passes through the Schlögen Oxbow, a particularly beautiful horseshoe shaped curve of the river. In Aschach, rejoin the ship, which returns to Linz for the night. This evening, optional theatre or music excursions are available, or you can mingle with the locals at a fun pub crawl.
Arrive this morning in Mauthausen, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic Age. Here, we let you place your own personal stamp on your day as you choose your activity:
* Take a guided cycling tour to an ancient Roman border defence fort dating back to the 2nd century AD. Visit the museum dedicated to the site, with military weaponry, accounts of daily life, ceiling frescoes, sacred art objects, and more.
* Visit the 9th-century St. Florian Monastery, an architectural rival to Melk Abbey. While exploring, you may meet one of the monks (when available) or attend a short music recital. Or;
* Join a heart-wrenching tour of Mauthausen concentration camp, one of World War II's largest and most brutal Nazi work camps.
This afternoon, your ship passes through another breathtaking area, the Strudengau, popular among climbers and hikers for its enticing geological formations. Dock in Grein, a pretty country resort in the shadow of its castle. The guided walk includes a visit of the historic theatre, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances. Then, visit Greinburg or Clam Castle, where you will meet the owner. After dinner, don't miss the spectacular views as we pass by Melk Abbey, perched high on a cliff above the river. The ship docks late tonight in Spitz.
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