A Vantage River Cruise
The River Splendor is really long, 442 feet or about one and a half football fields. But only 38 feet wide, about 12 yards on that football field.
Yet it carries 176 passengers and a crew of 45. For more data, google the name of the ship.
Upon arriving at the ship we were cordially welcomed and told that lunch was ready. A short nap after lunch helped moderate the jet lag.
Late afternoon we had a welcoming glass of champagne followed by a general briefing about the ship and a port talk about the first full day in Regensburg.
Dinner was followed by entertainment by our resident musician --
guitar and German folk songs.
A morning tour of the lovely town led by a young college student named Barbara got our trip underway. The town’s medieval look is genuine. Regensburg (not named for Ronnie) had no strategic significance and was not bombed by the allies in W.W.II as were most German cities. It is home of the first/ oldest fast food restaurant; a small building by the river that still sells sausages.
Incidentally, we learned that sausages are never called frankfurters in Frankfurt nor are they called wieners in Vienna (Wien). Those terms are used to described the inhabitants!
After a nice lunch, always lots of choices including a sit-down menu,
a sandwich buffet, or hamburgers (what do they call them in Hamburg?)
we bussed to nearby Weltenburg to visit a monastery and a brewery
recognized as having the best dark beer in Europe. It was good!
Then a very scenic boat ride through the Danube Gorge which is either too shallow or too twisty for the long riverboats.
The Bavarian Pittsburgh in that three rivers join here; the Danube,
the Inn and the Ilx. Again, a walking tour by a local guide who seemed to favor back alleys and who laughed heartily at her own jokes. The tour wound up at an organ recital at St. Steven's Cathedral whose organ has the second largest number of pipes (17,974) 233 stops and four carillons.
(Actually, Google says they are fourth, after Macys in New York, West Point, and the First Congregational Church in LA.)
Afternoon was OYO (on your own) -- think we took a nap.
We have been on enough Vantage tours to qualify as President’s Club members. One of the better perks is a reception/cocktail party which we attended. The dinner had a Europe theme with menu choices from many countries. The evenings entertainment was a showing of “The Sound of Music” preparatory to our visit to Salzburg.
Linz (we are now in Austria)was the river port from which we bussed to Salzburg.
(For those unfamiliar with Riverboat touring, all the neat places to visit
are not on the river. Thus one does spend some time on buses.)
The Salzburg tour was an all day affair so we had to do lunch OYO.
Ted had the recommended Kasse-Kleiner, a sausage with cheese in a pretzel roll from a street vendor. Barbara had grilled fish with diced pumpkin in a sit-down restaurant,
The tour focused on places where various scenes for the movie were shot and, secondly, homes where Mozart lived. Salzburg is a beautiful city and there was a lot to see and a lot of walking.
Our typical evening ensued after our bus ride back to the ship;
cocktail hour, port talk and dinner. We chose to watch one of the many “on demand” movies in our stateroom.
Our morning was a double-header; a visit to the huge Melk Abbey
followed by a stop at Schloss Artstetten, the home of the great-grand-daughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand whose assassination at Sarajevo triggered World War I.
The abbey is remarkably up to date in terms of its decor and its maintenance. About 500 rooms, it was once used to house visiting royalty.
It is now partly used as a school serving 900 pupils in and around the village of Melk. The original order was founded about a thousand years ago. The present monastery was built from 1702 to 1736. Some of the recent renovation incorporates modern art and there is modern statuary on the grounds.
The second stop was at a rural castle which is the home of
Anita Hohenberg, the descendant mentioned above. As in some other
places in Europe, notably England, the owners of these fabulous places must open them to tourists in order to maintain them and pay their taxes.
Anita, who is technically a princess, does not use the title. Moreover, she has opted to directly participate in greeting her “visitors” and is very fluent in several languages, including English. She really seemed to enjoy meeting and conversing with us as we joined her in a glass of champagne.
Back to lunch on the ship followed by cruising with commentary down the Wachau Valley, a very scenic stretch of the Danube. Later, a tour of the ship galley where an amazing amount and variety is prepared in a very small space.
Every day there was a “light” lunch and dinner option available in the
Captain’s Club at the stern of the ship. The daily menus were printed on the back of a daily schedule distributed in each cabin the day prior.
Certainly one of the highlights of the tour was the visit to Schonbrunn Palace. It is also a highlight of every other tour visiting Austria
and the crowds require careful management. Fortunately, the grounds and gardens around the palace itself are very spacious and are worth the visit by themselves.
Our guide did a good job of moving (herding?)us along so we were able to see all there was to see and explain what we saw through our earphones.
We took the afternoon off while others took an optional tour of yet another castle.
After another great dinner we enjoyed an in-room movie.
While most aboard attended the Lipizzaner Horse show, we used
the bus ride to the city center to visit the Kårnter Strasse, Vienna’s main shopping street. Barbara was in her element and in the third or fourth store, found exactly what she was seeking. Mission Accomplished as someone once said. We also enjoyed Viennese coffee and a chocolate cookie .. in a McDonalds.
Caught up with the horse show people and the bus back to the ship.
The driver took a roundabout route enabling our guide to identify many points of interest.
After lunch we heard a shipboard lecture on “Musical Vienna” preparatory to our trip to a Strauss & Mozart concert at the Kursalon.
There, nine musicians, two ballet dancers, a soprano and a tenor entertained us with a dozen Viennese selections. The best entertainment of the entire tour.
This was followed by a Vienna theme dinner on the ship.
Bratislava, Slovakia 10/6
Before we signed up for this tour we were not sure there was still a Slovenia and really didn’t know Bratislava is its capital!
We also learned that Vienna and Bratislava are the two closest capitals in Europe, only 35 miles apart.
We toured the town in a miniature tram, ending at a hilltop castle
overlooking the Danube. Another stop was at the St. Clare Church where we were treated to a concert by a young couple, a soprano/pianist and a tenor.
The evening featured more local talent, “The Pressburger Duo”; Pressburg being another name for the town of Bratislava. You can hear some of the concert on YouTube. Just enter pressburger duo.
Dunaalmas & Visegrad, Hungary 10/6
This place is in the middle of nowhere! We docked at a block
of concrete and steel about the size of a small house and were met
by several horse-drawn wagons that held 12 to 20 people. After a
short but bumpy ride over a rutted trail we arrived at a relatively new
but simple pavilion.
There we were greeted with little glasses of some clear but potent liquor served by young ladies in traditional costume. We entered and
were seated at long picnic tables or we could cluster around several
places where older women were demonstrating strudel making.
After the strudel show we were all seated and the proprietor of
the local winery began his spiel, in Hungarian. Each sentence was then interpreted for us in English. The introduction was followed by a description of the various wines produced there and the young ladies came around with a generous sample of each, about six in all,from
the driest white through to a very sweet dessert wine. The chardonnay
and the dry red were pretty good, but we are no experts.
Finally lunch was served, a large bowl of chicken vegetable soup with a baked on pastry lid, accompanied, of course, by more wine of ones choice.
From the pavilion it was only a short walk to where our busses picked us up to take us to Visegrad, a castle also in a fairly remote setting.
Climbing a long uphill and cobblestone path, we entered a dimly lit
hall where we were served (you guessed it!) some clear but potent liquor.
and were greeted by a young man who was our host for the jousting.
Which really wasn’t jousting since jousting is on horseback.
But we did get a show of medieval weaponry by costumed and armored combatants wielding lances, maces, battle-axes, bows and arrows and other sundry weapons.
The ship had moved to the nearby town of Visegrad where we reboarded and got gussied up for the Captain’s farewell cocktail party and dinner (which was one day early). after dinner, entertainment was a traditional variety shoe put on by members of the crew.
A beautiful city!
We took a guided bus tour of the Pest side of the river (which is basically flat) followed by a mostly walking tour of the Buda side (which is mostly built on a hilltop affording great vistas..
After a wonderful luncheon buffet, we spent the afternoon packing up and filling out questionnaires
Budapest Departure 10/9
A wake up call at 5 am (11 pm yesterday on the east coast!), suitcases out the door at 5:30, breakfast and then on the bus for the airport at 6:30.
We flew Budapest to Dusseldorf, then Dusseldorf to Newark, then Newark to Cleveland after a one hour extra wait at Newark while unspecified repairs were made. Arrived home just before 11 pm, 24 hours after our wake-up call.
It was a wonderful cruise!
Name: Edgar Maugans
Trip: Danube Holiday River Cruise Featuring Prague