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, 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 along the Limes cycle route, and follow part of the northern border line of the Roman Empire, which in the 2nd century AD ran from the Dutch border all the to the Black sea.
* 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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"Active Discovery with Avalon Cruises"
"This trip was our first introduction into 'river cruising' - the planning, preparation and execution..."
"Excellent service. found my "lost" suitcase within 10 minutes. Excellent cruise director, Sabina. Al the..."
Excellent service. found my "lost" suitcase within 10 minutes. Excellent cruise director, Sabina. Al the on board staff a credit to the company.
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday. However it was not entirely as active as we were lead to beleive. We expected to be more active, with the described activities lasting all day and involving some effort. For example, we expected the canoe trip to be all day and then rejoin the boat further down stream but in fact it was only a couple of hours on the water. Enjoyable though. Similarly what was described as "spend your day in the great outdoors on a guided hike through the Danube-Ipoly National Park" etc, was a short walk lasting no more than 1.5 hours and we didn't see, or have pointed out to us, the wildlife. Also the bike tour of Vienna was a bit stressful as we managed to lose one of our group due to the amount of traffic inexperience of some members of our group and lack of visibility/identificatiopn of group members. Having said that, the holiday was wonderful, and we would recommend Avalon to other people.