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 …..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!