Danube River Cruise – A Taster

For many years we have dreamt of cruising down the Danube in one of those river cruise boats that one sees on the pages of travel magazines and newspapers.

In April 2016 we turned the dream into reality, using as an excuse our upcoming major anniversary to treat ourselves to a special trip.

Over the next few weeks I will be describing some of the highlights of the two weeks spent in Eastern Europe, starting with four nights in Prague, Czech Republic and ending with a two night stay in Passau, Germany, with a week-long cruise down the Danube sandwiched in between. Along the way we traversed four different countries – Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia.

So here’s a taster of some of the places visited and wonderful experiences along the way, with more to follow in later blogs …..

Prague

This has to rate as the most beautiful city we have visited, from an architectural perspective, with each street lined with magnificent old buildings and something interesting around every corner. We did a lot of walking – always the best way to see a new place.

Prague - Old Town Square
Prague – Old Town Square
Prague - street scene
Prague – street scene
Prague - Old Town Square : Church of St Nicholas
Prague – Old Town Square : Church of St Nicholas
Prague - Florist shop
Prague – Florist shop
Prague - Spring blossoms
Prague – Spring blossoms

Danube Cruise

The cruise was an eight-day, seven night cruise, starting from and returning to Passau in Germany with the furthest point reached being Budapest in Hungary and traversing 4 countries along the way.

Riverside scenes
Riverside scenes
Moored at Vienna
Moored at Vienna
Approaching Budapest
Approaching Budapest
Budapest by night - Parliament
Budapest by night – Parliament
Bridge at Esztergom, Hungary (near Danube bend)
Bridge at Esztergom, Hungary (near Danube bend)
Bratislava - the Castle
Bratislava – the Castle

We were kept busy with tours at every stop, but some of the best moments were just cruising along the wide river, the sliding door of our cabin wide open, watching the passing scenery.

The stops along the way gave us a wonderful insight into places that, for us, were just mysterious- sounding names before – Budapest in Hungary, Bratislava in Slovakia, Linz, Melk and Vienna in Austria.

Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey
Vienna - Schoenbrunn Palace
Vienna – Schoenbrunn Palace
Vienna - Schoenbrunn Palace Gardens
Vienna – Schoenbrunn Palace Gardens
Budapest - St Matthews Church
Budapest – St Matthews Church
Budapest - Hero's Square
Budapest – Hero’s Square

Passau

We decided to round off our trip with a short stay in  the small town of Passau in Germany, also the starting and ending point of the cruise, which turned out to be a highlight of our trip.

Passau - St Stephan's Cathedral
Passau – St Stephan’s Cathedral
Passau - river scenes
Passau – river scenes

Accommodation

From our large room in Prague to the compact cabin on the cruise boat and ending with our neat room in Passau, all were more than comfortable, clean and a pleasure to return to after a hard day’s touring.

Food

The meals on the cruise were of a very high standard and at every stop we tried the local cake or pastry speciality, usually accompanied by a decent cappuccino. During our Prague and Passau stays, we tried a variety of restaurants close to our hotel and were never disappointed.

Passau - Apfelkuchen and cappucino
Passau – Apfelkuchen and cappucino
Passau - lunch on the hill
Passau – lunch on the hill

Birding and Wildlife

The Danube river is not renowned for its birding, other than the delta where it runs into the Black Sea apparently. So the birding was not memorable, nevertheless I was always on the lookout and ended with a modest list of 33 species – heck, I have seen more bird species than that in an hour’s walk around our residential estate in Pretoria!

You don’t expect to see wildlife in Europe, so the couple of small animals we encountered were a pleasant surprise, particularly the fox with a fish catch.

Red Fox with fish catch
Red Fox with fish catch

Photography

Regular readers of my blog (yes both of you) will know that I am a keen photographer and this trip presented plenty of opportunities for photographing some well-known and sometimes lesser-known tourist spots. I like to get the places visited on record along with the hordes of other tourists all recording similar shots, but love it when I can get a different angle or a detail shot that others haven’t thought of, so that I end up with what I consider a nice mix of the expected and unexpected.

More to Come………

Future blogs will go into a lot more detail on our experiences during two busy weeks spent in Eastern Europe, with plenty of photos included!

5 thoughts on “Danube River Cruise – A Taster”

    1. Glad you like the photos – lots more to come! The fox was a real surprise – just had time to grab my camera and rattle off some shots from the cabin before our boat passed by.

  1. We are birders from Atlanta Georgia USA Enjoyed your story. We are taking our twins on Danube cruise this April 2017 to celebrate their 16th birthday. Passeau to Budapest. Wondering about best app or book in order to id birds. Any suggestions? Also thinking about biking options offered with cruise. Did you participate in biking? Also concerned about temperature in that we leave Passeu on April 2. Would appreciate any suggestions/input. Thank you

    1. Hi Frances, The birding app I used was the Collins Bird Guide Which I found quite adequate and useful for listing as we went. We did not try the biking as my wife is not into that although I am. It was a bit on the cold side for me but I saw a few people taking the bikes that were available. Places like Vienna are ideal for some biking as there are paths along the river for miles. As long as you have some warm clothing it is a great way of exploring. We spent two nights in Passau after the cruise which I would recommend as it is a charming town (I still have to write up a post on our stay there) Best wishes

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