We all met at the Intercontinetal Hotel in Vienna and talked to a few other guests and checked out what was ahead of us. We were then bussed to The River and boarded around 4.30, settled into our stateroom as they call it and unpacked as the storage was excellent for such a small space and rested the feet before the orientation at 6 pm after which we took in the sights on the sky deck as we headed up river. Dinner was at 7pm and we joined the throng for what was a lovely meal and nice company with a English couple and the youngest couple on the boat from The USA who both happened to be Naval Officers.Later that night we went through our first set of Locks which was surreal to say the least but we had a good nights sleep due to very good beds and a very stable ship.
We woke already docked in Melk and after a very full breakfast joined the bus for our first tour with the guests.
First stop was Melk Abbey which was just up on the hill above the small town which it totally dominated. Some Abbey it was as richly decorated as a Palace and just as large and it was used as a monks retreat with sensational views along the Danube.
Back for lunch on the boat….food food everywhere, there’s no escaping it and it’s only our first day
We cruised down the river and spent the afternoon in Durnstein at a winery for a tasting and visited the cellars deep underground and then strolled the very quaint village with only 5 streets and of course another lavish but smaller Abbey. We met a lovely couple from Clevland Ohio during the wine tour and have been surprised at the really nice people we have met.
The town or the castle ruins on the hill were the setting for the capture and internment of King Richard The Lionheart from England in the 12th century on his way back from the crusades.
Departure was not until the night so after a nap it was time for the daily briefing and then of of course more food and wine…… That night we were entertained by a local violinist who mixed up the classics with some Celtic and rock tunes for a bit of fun.
The next day we arrived in Bratislava just as we woke and after breakfast it was off in the bus in the drizzle to do a city tour. Up to the hills to see the Castle of course and through the luxury housing streets to get the best vistas and then a walking tour through the wet of the old town where we took some time away from the tour group for a coffee break.
We have really had fun with the street sculpture this trip and have been amused by many clever ideas, like a man checking out the girls going by from his man hole in the street and a French soldier checking out the square during Napoleons rampage.
Slovakia is still struggling in its new existence and it shows somewhat but the people seem to have resolve and good ironic humor so they look good for the future.
That afternoon after another food feast we boarded another bus and crossed the now non existent boarder back into Austria to visit Schloss Palace another one of Prince Eugen’s piles which has only recently being restored and it was a treat, not only the Palace but the gardens, Orangeries, farm houses and stables etc.
We had a Schnapps tasting in the restored Orangery which was not our thing but it put fire in the belly none the less.
The grounds and farm workings were magnificent and we enjoyed the spare time to just take it all in.
We even had time for a quiet beer in the almost deserted Palace courtyard before the allocated time of departure.
The boat was departing at 5.45 and we got back at 5.30 and off we went heading to Budapest just as a huge storm hit.
We went through a huge Lock, sharing the space with 2 other big boats and just watching the engineering at work was great.
It was The Captains dinner night and the food and wine just kept flowing and later the Guest talent night which was a bit of fun especially the Play the Tour Director facilitated with the guests. Another good nights sleep and we woke cruising along The Hungarian Danube entering Budapest and I got up onto the sky deck just in time to capture a beautiful sight of The Margaret Bridge and Parliament reflected in the still dawn waters.
We had breakfast while docking and we were then straight onto our first Budapest experience.
Looks like you are having a fantastic trip – makes me want to get on the road again even though we just got back. We just spent 10 days in beautiful B.C. Had a great visit with Mike, E.J. and Lindsay as well as our son Beau. Everything is very green here… lots of rain and lots of sun… looking forward to a summer of music festivals and sipping wine on the deck. Spent the weekend weeding and gardening, so next week will be time to relax.