20 views from my porthole on the Danube

1 01 2010

Greeting you this first day of the new year and continuing to reflect on last month’s winter travels . . .

Cabin 102 on the Viking Europe was “standard” accommodation and much more economical (Category E) than spaces on the higher decks. Small, but more spacious than the sailboats DH and I were familiar with, very clean, and comfortable enough.

Instead of sliding glass doors, we had a porthole that didn’t open. That was perfectly all right, as it was on the waterline and also wintertime, i.e., cold! When in port, the view was the underside of the gangplank, but while underway there were sites to see along the Danube River from Passau in Germany, to towns and cities in Austria, to Budapest in Hungary. Here are 20.

Copyright 2009-2010 Rebekah Luke

Snowed in

20 12 2009

Heavy snow blizzards on the US East Coast caused our return flight from Vienna to be cancelled. Austrian Airlines rerouted us to Philadelphia via Warsaw, Poland, and Toronto, Canada, the next day. Some of our Danube River Cruise mates have to wait two days for their new flights. Now our departure to Warsaw is delayed, so we just relax, have a cup of coffee, and draft another blog post.

The Danube Holiday Delight cruise of 8 days and 7 nights was just that–delightful–and exceeded all expectations! This was my first trip to Central Europe, my first sightseeing cruise on a ship, and although I had experienced snow before, it wasn’t as winter-wondery-landy as this!

On board the crew of 35 pampers the passengers to the max. As there is no assigned seating at mealtimes, we met many interesting people and saw most of the 140 passengers. I took advantage of the private qigong lessons in the morning by Niki, the program manager from Budapest. I guess no one else cared to wake up so early.

The long and narrow boat allows for a 270-degree views of the river from the lounge at the front and both port and starboard views from the dining room at the stern. Wow! I detected a lot of butter in the fine cuisine prepared by the chefs, and I ate my fill, so puppy-chan will get an extra walk each day after we get home.

Here are photos I took that are ship related. The three people frolicking in the snow are Niki, Marcela, and Michael–the program team that took very good care of us.

Frohe Weinachten! ~ Rebekah

Visiting Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava

19 12 2009

On the Viking Europe:

Tonight we are in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, preparing to sail overnight westward, back to Vienna where we will disembark and start our trip home.

After Durnstein came Vienna to the east. On our own we found the specific souvenirs of the Hawaiian collection at the museum of ethnology.

DH, who docents at the Bishop Museum, likes to track down Hawaiian artifacts that left the Islands on Cook’s ships in the 18th century and found their way to museum collections in other countries.

Of course we enjoyed the Viennese art of drinking coffee. While in a cafe across the street from the Hofburg Palace, we saw the Lipizzaner Museum.

With our equestrian friends Ruth, Kathy, and Chris in mind, we decided to check if any events were going on. The time was in between a practice and a performance, so we toured the stables, the tack room, the winter riding school, and the summer riding school!

The stallions have a long career at the Spanish Riding School and are well taken care of. No photography by visitors is permitted, and one is not allowed to pet the horses. Their stalls are cleaned every hour, and they have an annual vacation on a private ranch where they run free.

A little further down the Danube River is Budapest, Hungary. Buda is on one side of river, and Pest is on the other side. Our ship Viking Europe tied up right by the chain bridge, the oldest of six bridges that span the two parts. Magnificent!

Here are a few more travel photos. I hope you enjoy them! It’s still snowing!
If the photos don’t show up on this post, I’ll try to put them on the next one.

~ Rebekah

Tomorrow Vienna

16 12 2009

I’m staying awake to watch the river cruise boat we’re on arrive in Vienna at midnight. The Viking Europe is taking us across Austria on the Danube River.

Earlier today we stopped at the towns of Melk and Durnstein.

The morning tour ashore was of the 900-year-old monastery Stift Melk, a Benedictine abbey with museum, church, school and library. The baroque design of the buildings was a treat to see.

In the afternoon we attended an organ concert in Durnstein. Both towns are in the Wachau valley that produces very good white wine.

We already visited Salzburg where the economy is so thankful for “The Sound of Music” and “Amadeus” motion pictures that continues to attract tourists (like us). 🙂

It has snowed every day to make the landscape a beautiful winter wonderland.

The Danube isn’t blue like the title of the waltz, but the picture I snapped of our vessel near sundown is a lovely blue.

Have a look at the other photos, too, of the boat and sights of our ports of call.

~ Rebekah

Cruising the Danube in Austria

14 12 2009

Most of the passengers on the Viking Europe, including me and DH, are planning a good night’s sleep dockside in Linz, Austria, on the Danube River, for tomorrow’s agenda is a full-day excursion to the city of Salzburg, the birth place of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The weather forecast is 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and partly cloudy. We’re prepared to dress warmly in layers–“like an onion,” said the program director.

A light blanket of snow greeted us in Munich when we arrived on Sunday for our winter holiday. The snowflakes followed us to the border town of Passau, Germany, where the Danube (Donau), Ilz and Inn rivers meet.

In Passau we joined 139 other passengers for a week on the riverboat that will take us all the way to Budapest in Hungary.

At each port of call–just Passau and Linz so far–we’re taking in the famous and festive Christmas markets, usually in a town square, a short walking distance from the boat.

At nighttime we head for the Gluhwein Hutte for a mug of hot mulled wine to help keep warm. We just look for the booths with the longest lines!

We’re having a great time! Here are a few snapshots of the Christmas market and one of three locks that the Viking Europe passed through today between Passau and Linz.

A warm thank you to our family and friends in Pennsylvania who helped us with our winter wardrobe issues on the way over here. ~ Rebekah

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

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