The Romance of the Danube
I think it was fate that brought me to the
Viking Sky. We always said we would
celebrate our 20th anniversary with a trip
to Italy, but I just wasn't feeling the love
for that at the time. It seemed too touristy.
So we procrastinated and by then it was
time to celebrate a ~ milestone~ birthday
for me and we still had no idea where we
would go. Then a friend showed me a
brochure for a Viking River cruise and we
talked about the Christmas Markets and
how we always wanted to go to them, that
day I went home and my brother had sent
me a link about a Viking River cruise and
then ads started popping up on my computer.
I thought this is a sign to check this out. I pitched
the idea to Mr. Wonderful and we were signed
up within a few days.
We had flown to Budapest a few days
before the cruise so we could tour the
city ourselves and hopefully adjust to the
time change by the time we got onboard.
Budapest is a beautiful city on the Danube
River. The theme of this cruise was to tour
the Christmas Markets along the Danube.
Budapest was our first taste of a European
Christmas Market. This one is filled with
handcrafts ~ ceramics, woolens, woodcraft,
jewelry. Sadly, I held back in buying since I
didn't know what was to come. I've told Mr. W
I must go back to get the things I've missed.
When we checked in on the Viking Sky
we were given a light lunch in the lounge.
We happened to sit near 2 couples and
started chatting and we all just hit it off,
we spent the next week dining, touring
and having fun together.
On Viking River Cruises nearly all of
the shore excursions are included in the
cost of the trip. If you should go make
sure you take advantage of them, they
are very well done, you are given
headphones so you can hear the knowledgable
guides without having to stand right beside them.
We had a late night departure from Budapest
with everyone on the top deck to see the
sweeping views of the city at night. As we slept
we traveled to our next stop, this is sooo much
easier than having to pack and drag your luggage
to the train, etc. The next stop was Brataslava,
Slovakia. This is where my Grandfather left from
to begin his journey to America as a young teenager,
so it was especially nice for me to see.
The next stop was Vienna, Austria.
What a beautiful city, we went on the
scheduled tour and then walked around
on our own. Everywhere you turn is another
beautiful sight. One of our favorite memories
is having lunch at an outdoor wurst stand.
We couldn't understand the menu so we saw an
older couple with a wurst that looked good and
pointed at their food, then pointed at the menu
and they let us know what the item was. They
then invited us to share their table with them.
Since we didn't speak the same language all that
was said was "ya, es goot" but we smiled and
laughed and I will never forget them.
In Vienna, don't miss the Christmas
Market at the Royal Palace, try to get there
as night is falling to see the beauty in sun and
then in darkness when the Christmas lights
And don't forget to pick up a few items
for your Holiday decorating.
The next morning we took a snowy hike
through the charming village of Durnstein.
We enjoyed lunch as we cruised
through the scenic Wachau Valley.
That afternoon we toured the
spectacular Abbey at Melk.
The church there is very grand.
The next day was spent in Salzburg, we
toured a park where The Sound of Music
was filmed and saw Mozart's home.
This was the best market to buy
glass Christmas ornaments.
Our final stop was the beautiful town
of Passau, Germany. The week went
by so quickly because we were busy eating,
touring and having fun. But yet, we really
bonded with our fellow travelers, there are
people I will know for the rest of my life that
I met on this trip. A river cruise ship is much
smaller than an ocean liner so you really get
to know your fellow passengers.
You may ask ~ travel on a boat in winter?
It did snow everyday, but it just added to
the ambience. We put on our boots and our
wool coats and if you find you are still cold,
go to the local market and buy a scarf, hat,
gloves or wool socks. Right now, I have on
a pair of angora wool socks from Germany,
I love them.
I wish I could be back on the Viking Sky
for another tour of the Christmas markets
but that will have to be another year.
I highly recommend it, and if you should
go, tell them I sent you.