Arrived in Passau yesterday from our KLM flight via Munich. Everything (as usual) worked like a well oiled machine and we were eating some lunch on deck well before 3pm. Spent a few hours settling in before dinner and a quick stroll along the docking esplanade.
This morning, as we’ve being here before, we skipped the guided walk and set off by ourselves for a look around. It’s a small town, known for two things: it’s where three rivers join to form the lower Danube and Hitler grew up here. Apart from that, it’s fairly unremarkable, but very pretty on a bright and sunny (if a little brisk) morning.
During the afternoon, just after lunch, we set off down the Danube to Linz in Austria. Time for the “Emergency Briefing” (we all get to wear becoming orange jackets), an Apfel Strudel demonstration and a nap.
We're due to arrive in Linz early evening and the sun’s still shining.
Arrived in this pretty little Austrian town this morning. The hillside is dominated by the Abbey, which is still active and also serves as a Secondary School. R.E. probably figures large in the curriculum.
Not a lot else here for “tourists” except for a few souvenir shops, but a really pleasant and peaceful place for a stroll in the morning sunshine.
In the afternoon: a leisurely cruise through the Wachau Valley to Dürnstein - where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned whilst returning from the Crusades.
The valley is Austria’s main wine growing region and has some lonely scenic views. We sat on deck, took in the views and listened to an interesting description by the Programme Director.
The little town of Dürnstein is charming, making it’s living off the King Richard story. The ruins of the castle still remain high on the hillside, accessed by a steep 650 steps (we passed!).
A gentle stroll around the town seemed a much better idea.
A busy, tiring but wonderful day today in Vienna.
We decided to go “independent”, so we set off just after 8am to buy U-Bahn tickets and travel out to Schönbrunn Palace, once home to Maria-Therese and the other Austrian Emperors. Being Austria, the U-Bahn is fast, clean, safe and very easy to use.
Set on the edge of the City, the Palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parklands. If you walk up a fairly steep hill to the Gloriette, there are magnificent views of the palace, its gardens and the City beyond. It’s quite a walk, but worth it.
We toured the Palace, walked (or crawled!) up to the terrace, stopped for a much needed drink at the café there and then spent a couple of hours exploring the gardens and grounds.
Next, on to the U-Bahn back to central Vienna. You can simply overdose on its architecture. Sunshine makes the difference. Stroll, look, sit on a park bench, stroll some more, stop for a beer or coffee, stroll some more - a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Finally, a little retail therapy before taking the U-Bahn back to the ship, exhausted but contented after a great day out.
Dinner was an Austrian themed, waited buffet (have a look, say what you want and its brought to you). If Austrians eat that much rich food… !!!
Arrived early in the capital of Slovakia. A small country and a small but delightful city.
Our tour guide was more like a professional comedian. Almost every piece of information was framed in a poke at the local government, the EU, or the citizens in general. Comparing Communist times with now, she pointed out that many people were unhappy with social inequality, because under Communism everyone had the same - NOTHING. And many more of the same.
We went up to the castle on the hillside. A lovely building, but as she pointed out, just a shell. There were many archways leading to nothing as the renovations were “ongoing” for 25 years. But the views were spectacular.
The old town was quiet and peaceful. Plenty of interesting buildings and shops (both real & tourist traps). As we were only there for the morning, plenty to see and do.
We’re sailing just after lunch, to arrive in Budapest late evening to see this beautiful city lit up at night. Can’t wait!
The city of Budapest is divided by the Danube into two cities: Buda and Pest. Buda is high on a hill and has the most historic buildings. Pest is a more “modern” city, but still contains many incredible buildings, monuments, parks and gardens.
We’ve been here before, and are returning later this year, so we decided to independently explore Pest and spend time in Buda during October.
We docked just the other side of the bridge.
For the second time, the weather was unseasonally hot - around 24C; who’s complaining?
During the morning, we walked south along the side of the Danube toward the Central Market. Parts of the embankment are beautifully cobbled, part Soviet era trip hazards and one stretch of about 50 metres under a bridge a trodden down “careful you don’t fall in the river” track. Adds to the charm!
The Central Market (the largest of many indoor markets around Budapest) combines everyday shopping for meat, fruit, vegetables and “street food” stalls with quite a few stalls to entice (or fleece) the many tourists it attracts. Great place to spend an hour or so.
Then we strolled back along Pest’s main shopping street, not unlike many other shopping streets around Europe (except for the large number selling paprika and lace). A few still had a traditional old fashioned charm to them.
Back to the ship for lunch and a nap before setting off again.
This afternoon we headed north towards the Parliament building to see what we could see (had no idea what if anything was there). There was lots - most of it probably missed by tours as it’s not an obvious route to take.
There’s a very surprizing memorial to the Nazi “Final Solution”. Hungary’s government were reluctant Nazi sympathisers during the War and apart from the Transportations, Jews were also shot by Hungarian Militia on the banks of the Danube. The memorial is of their shoes - all that remained on the riverbank.
Apart from beautiful buildings, this city loves it’s street art and there are examples around almost every corner. It’s surprising who you bump into!
Flying home tomorrow. What a great week we’ve had.
Today off to Salzburg, home of Apfel Strudel 😃 and the Sound of Music 😬.
What a lovely place to see, made all the better by bright Spring sunshine (if a little bit fresh).
The town has an “old town”, a regular commercial area and a castle, set high on the hillside with spectacular views. A super few hours spent browsing through the old town, with more churches per square yard than could be imagined.
The cemetery and catacombs were fascinating; so ornate and ostentacious; a graveyard becomes a tourist experience!
The funicular railway whisks you up to the castle; really peaceful (maybe not so much in high-season); the perfect place to stroll around and enjoy strudel and coffee.
The music of Mozart is a big deal around here. Maybe having his compositions on your legs takes things a bit too far.
Lots to see, lots to do and beautiful weather. A great day out.