When our driver was able to wedge in the last of our luggage, our coach departed Vienna. We headed north to the rural Wachaue Danube Valley, past picture postcard villages, vineyards, groves of fruit trees, rural fields, lakes and forests, up a winding road with snowy switchbacks. In an hour or so we arrived at the Monastery of Melk. Leolpold I made the castle his residence in 976. He and his successors provided it with treasures and relics. Leopold II gave the castle to the Benedictine monks who have since worked and lived there without interruption. The magnificent Baroque building was added to the monastery in the 1700s. Royalty periodically visited with an entourage of up to 300 guests and attendants. Warning: gold gilt alert. Pictures: The entry courtyard, original castle tower, hallway and stylised visitor rooms, the grand dining/ball room and orchestra balcony through the windows above, the exterior of the church, thr library, dizzying spiral stairwasy, the church interior, our lunch at the pretty restaurant on the grounds.