Tag Archives: Amadeus Royal

Danube River Cruise – Just Cruising

Previous posts on our Danube River Cruise were about the places visited during the eight-day cruise, this one is about the river cruising experience itself and some of the special the sights along the way……….

The Route

Cruise route map - Passau to Budapest and back
Cruise route map – Passau to Budapest and back through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary

The Boat

The Amadeus Royal was our home for the cruise duration and provided all the comforts we expected

Our embarkment point at Passau
Our embarkment point at Passau
Tea and Apfelstrudel in Passau just before boarding
Tea and Apfelstrudel in Passau just before boarding (What’s on Gerda’s mind?)
Amadeus Royal - the compact bathroom
Amadeus Royal – the compact bathroom
Amadeus Royal - our cabin
Amadeus Royal – unpacking in our cabin
Off we go
Off we go
Leaving Passau
Leaving Passau

Riverside Scenery

Riverside scenes
Riverside scenes
Riverside scenes
Riverside scenes
Riverside scenes
Riverside scenes
Schloss Schonbuhel, Melk District Austria
Schloss Schonbuhel, Melk District Austria
Passing Vienna
Passing Vienna
Passing Vienna
Passing Vienna
River scenes
River scenes
Approaching Budapest
Approaching Budapest
Moored at Budapest
Moored at Budapest
Linz
Linz
Leaving Linz
Leaving Linz

The Locks

Here you will have to bear with me – I am interested in all things mechanical, even boring things such as locks on the river. During the 1160 km cruise, we passed through 22 locks, often at night, changing altitude by some 360 metres. The average lock entailed a lift or drop of about 8 metres – now that doesn’t sound much, but consider that the cruise boat is 110m long x 11,4m wide with a tonnage of 1,556t, that means a lot of water has to be pumped in a short space of time to accomplish it efficiently.

In the lock
In the lock
Don't stick your head out in the lock
Don’t stick your head out too far in the lock

Donau-Auen National Park

During one afternoon we cruised through the Donau-Auen National Park, a section of the Danube which has been declared part of a UNESCO Biosphere park. Along this stretch, downstream of Vienna, the natural floodplains form a green corridor with a large area of lowland forests, meadows, wetlands and other riparian habitat.

We relaxed in our cabin with curtains fully open, taking in the greenery of the forests lining the river bank, with sightings every now and then of birds and occasionally other wildlife.

The surprise of the trip was undoubtedly the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) which I spotted trotting along a ridge of rocks on the bank of the river, with an enormous fish in its jaws. It is not often one gets to see “real” wildlife in Europe so this was very special. Fortunately I had my camera and telephoto lens ready for passing birds and managed to rattle off a few shots of the fox carrying the fish, before the boat had passed it by.

Red Fox with fish catch
Red Fox with fish catch

Another feature of this stretch was the small “fishermen’s cabins” dotted at intervals along the river bank, most with a net in a large frame ready to drop into the river. Word on board was that these cabins cannot be bought or sold, but have to be passed on to the next generation in their original state and no extensions are allowed. So they remain small and simple – often just space for a couple of beds and basic facilities for the fishermen to spend the night camping there.

Riverside dwellings with fishing rights
Riverside dwellings with fishing rights
Riverside dwellings with fishing rights
Riverside dwellings with fishing rights
Riverside dwellings with fishing rights
Riverside dwellings with fishing rights
Riverside dwellings with fishing rights
Riverside dwellings with fishing rights

Bridges

There were numerous bridges over the river, some functional, others handsome, old and new

Bridge over the Danube
New Bridge over the Danube
Bridge at Bratislava
Bridges at Bratislava
Chain Bridge Budapest
Chain Bridge Budapest

River scenes

Other Stuff

Amadeus Royal
Amadeus Royal
On board
On board
Towel creation
Towel creation
On board
On board
Waiters Zizi and Ivan - Pirates dinner
Waiters Zizi and Ivan – Pirates dinner
Gayle, Denise, Fleur with Gerda
Gayle, Denise, Fleur with Gerda

Until Next Time …..

Dining

. 

Sunset over the Danube
Sunset over the Danube

Danube River Cruise – Budapest to Bratislava

Continuing the story of our eight-day, seven night “Danube Rhapsody” 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 …………..

Monday 25 April

Budapest – Horse Farm

Still moored in Budapest, we enjoyed a quick breakfast before boarding the bus once again for the trip out of town to a horse-riding show farm. Our cheerful guide gave us a run-down on the significant places we passed, many of which we had seen during the city tour the previous day, but it all helps to cement them into our senior brains.

Soon we were at the Lazar Farm having a welcoming scone with a powerful liquor called …… er,  I seem to have forgotten, I just know it went down well in the cold weather.

Lazar Horse farm

Lazar Horse farm
Lazar Horse farm

Then we climbed onto horse-drawn wagons for a short ride along tree-lined tracks, muddy from the recent rain – the cold wind was biting with nowhere to hide, so we were glad to have packed our warm jackets and wooly hats.

Lazar Horse farm
Riding in the wagon

Lazar Horse farm

Next up was a horse show viewed from a seating area next to a short sandy oval track, including a series of displays of the horse-riding skills particular to the region, which celebrate the unique relationship between Hungarian horsemen and -women with their horses :

  • 2 pairs of horses pulling a heavy wagon, galloping by us at full speed, mud flying from the hooves
Lazar Horse farm
Lazar Horse farm

Lazar Horse farm

  • 2 pairs of ponies drawing a smaller wagon, a lot more sedately
Lazar Horse farm
The ponies
  • an archer on horseback, shooting at a fixed target and mostly hitting it as he galloped past
  • a brave rider standing on two horses while controlling a team of five horses
Bareback riding
Bareback riding
The horses giving it their all
The horses giving it their all
  • other riders performing in traditional costumes
Lazar Horse farm
Lazar Horse farm
An elegant lady rider
An elegant lady rider
Not just horses either
Not just horses on this farm

All in all a memorable show and most enjoyable to be out in the countryside, despite the cold weather

Just Cruising

The morning tour was enough for us for the day, so we decided to skip the afternoon tour (through the countryside to meet the boat further upstream) and spent the afternoon pleasantly cruising along the Danube as the boat started the return journey. More about the “Just Cruising” part in a forthcoming post. (I know you can’t wait, but I have to stretch this trip out to get my money’s worth from it – that’s what comes from having a Scottish heritage)

Tuesday 26 April

Bratislava – City Tour

By the time we awoke in the morning, the boat was already docked in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, and by 9 am we were on the bus for the City Tour. The young guide, who looked like a student,  gave us a summary of Slovakia’s history (in good English, flavoured with a strong eastern European accent) as we drove up to the first stop at the Castle which, compared to others we have seen, is quite plain and of simple design.

Bratislava - the Castle
The old Castle on the hill

Particularly the inner courtyard, where I noticed no one was inclined to take photos, as there were none of the elaborate features and details we have become used to seeing. This was refreshing in a way and set the tone for the rest of the city, parts of which we saw later during our walk through the Old Town.

Quirky architecture on the Castle facade
Quirky architecture on the Castle facade

The castle has a long and chequered history, having been destroyed and rebuilt several times.

Wikipedia says of the castle’s earliest history :

“The castle, like today’s city, has been inhabited for thousands of years, because it is strategically located in the centre of Europe at a passage between the Carpathians and the Alps, at an important ford used to cross the Danube river, and at an important crossing of central European ancient (trade) routes running from the Balkans or the Adriatic Sea to the Rhine river or the Baltic Sea, the most important route being the Amber Route.

The people of the Boleráz culture were the first known culture to have constructed settlements on the castle hill, around 3500 BC. Their “castle” was a fortified settlement and a kind of acropolis for settlements in today’s Old Town of Bratislava.”

From the castle there were great views across the Danube, with the standout feature being the rows of communist-era apartment blocks, taking up most of the space beyond the river and painted in cheerful pastel shades.

Bratislava - city views
Communist era housing in pleasing pastel colours

The walking part of the tour commenced at our second stop and took us through several old town squares (called Namesti), some very old, others newer, all interesting with handsome buildings and that very European sense of scale – comfortable rather than overwhelming.

Bratislava old town.
Bratislava old town.
Michael's Gate
Michael’s Gate
Bratislava - Old Town Hall
The Town Hall

 

Primate's Residence
Primate’s Residence
Primate's Residence : Fountain of St George and the dragon
Primate’s Residence : Fountain of St George and the dragon

And a reminder that we were quite far from home……

Long way from home

One of the features of Bratislava is its collection of quirky statues, sprinkled around the city, none more so than the tourist favourite, “Man at Work”, which depicts a “worker” partly emerging from a manhole and clearly not at work.

Bratislava old town. "Man at work"
Bratislava old town. “Man at work”

Another in the main square has a Napoleonic soldier leaning over your shoulder, if you choose to sit on the bench in front of it, as many tourists elect to do.

Our new pal - the Napoleonic Soldier in the Main Square
Our new pal – the Napoleonic Soldier in the Main Square
He's really quite friendly
He’s really quite friendly

And there are others – spot the living one……….

Bratislava old town. Another quirky statue

Hint – note the basket for donations

Bratislava old town - living statue

 

Hans Christian Andersen - well a statue of him actually
Hans Christian Andersen – well a statue of him actually
A party of colourful kids pass another figure
A party of colourful kids pass another figure

The main square, Hlavne Namesti, drew us back after the official tour was done, to enjoy a “Big Cappuccino” and the local version of apple pie at an outside table, nicely positioned to watch the passing people traffic and the goings on in the square.

The outside café on the square
The outside café on the square
Church in the old town.
Church in the old town.
Bratislava old town - the Main Square
The Main Square

Fountains are also big in Bratislava – this pretty one is called Ganymede’s Fountain

Ganymede's fountain
Ganymede’s fountain
Ganymede's fountain
Ganymede’s fountain
Ganymede's fountain
Ganymede’s fountain
Ganymede's fountain
Ganymede’s fountain

There was time for some window shopping (which for Gerda means going inside every interesting shop and chatting to the assistants) before making our way back to the boat just a couple of blocks away.

Bratislava old town.
A lovely avenue full of trees

 

Inconsiderate Pigeon
Inconsiderate Pigeon
The Opera
The Opera

Bratislava old town. Bratislava old town.

Wednesday 27 April

Our last day of cruising as the boat proceeded to Linz in Austria, docking around lunchtime. The walking tour of the town was cancelled due to too few participants, so we set off on our own along the waterfront and into town, encased in several layers of warm clothing to ward off the bitter cold.

Linz - riverfront
Linz – riverfront

Linz was clearly not on many people’s list of places to visit and seemed almost deserted – perhaps because of the weather. That might also explain why we found it one of the less inspiring places we have visited – apart from the usual complement of churches, abbeys and cathedrals, none of which stood out for any particular reason, we did not encounter much of interest as we wandered through the streets around the main, very large square and adjoining old town.

Linz - street scenes
Linz – not much going on

The main square is lined with old patrician houses, the 17th century Town Hall and St Ignatius church with its two towers, while the centre of the square has the Trinity Column, erected by grateful citizens after the town managed to escape a trio of severe threats to their lives – the pest, a massive fire and a Turkish invasion – good enough reason, I reckon. What spoils it all is the scale of the square – too big – and the fact that the tram system runs right through the middle of it, completely destroying any intimate character it may have had.

Linz - Hauptplatz
Linz – Hauptplatz with the Trinity column in the middle

We did find a cosy café in one of the side streets in the Old Town and had an exceptional tea but a disappointing version of the local speciality cake – Linzertorte – which was crumbly and not particularly memorable. (Oh, how fussy we get at our age!) Maybe it was just a poor example. My German pronunciation was not up to scratch either – when I asked the waiter for “milch, bitte” with our tea he brought us a cute little timer for measuring how long the tea bag should stay in – fortunately the timer was useful and the tea so good it was actually better off without any “milch”.

Linz - best tea in a long time (asked for milk, got a timer!)
Linz – best tea in a long time (asked for milk, got a timer!)

As we sat in the café the rain started falling, soon turning to sleet for a few minutes, just to reinforce how cold it was.

Linz - sleet falling in the Old Town
Linz – sleet falling in the Old Town

After some further wandering we came across the Mozarthaus, where he composed the Linz Symphony during a short stay of a few days.

Linz - Mozarthaus
Linz – Mozarthaus

We made our way back to the boat and were soon immersed in the last day festivities including the Captain’s gala dinner with multiple courses. The cruise was coming to an end ………

More to come…

So what’s left to tell? Well there’s the “Just Cruising” bit – birding and other special sights along the river during the course of the cruise. After that, more about the places visited before and after the cruise – the two “P’s” – Prague and Passau, both unique and both full of highlights……..

 

Danube River Cruise – Vienna to Budapest

Continuing the story of our eight-day, seven night “Danube Rhapsody” 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 …………..

Saturday 23 April

Vienna – Riverside Walk

Having docked in Vienna the previous afternoon and attended a concert in the evening, we already had a good feeling about the city we last visited in December 1971.

We were due to do the city tour in the morning but decided to skip it and conserve our energy, physical and mental, for the excursion to Schönbrunn Palace in the afternoon.  This gave us a chance to have a late breakfast and explore the top deck of the boat (not much there, just an open area with deck chairs but way too cold to enjoy at this time of year), then relax until lunchtime. I took the opportunity to walk along the riverfront and enjoyed a peaceful hour or two of relaxed birding and photography.

It was nice to see a sprinkling of Viennese people at play, some rowing on the river in a protected tributary of the Danube, others cycling and jogging along the riverside pathways, which are pleasantly bordered by green grass and lined with trees and bushes just coming into bloom, creating an attractive park-like area all along the river.

Vienna - walk along the river
Walk along the river
Vienna - walk along the river
Walk along the river
A small church near the river
A small church near the river
The riverside parklands
The riverside parklands

Vienna - walk along the river

Spring is here
Spring is here

Vienna – Schönbrunn Palace

After lunch we joined the group for the tour of Schönbrunn  – once again it was a re-living of our trip of some 44 years ago as newly weds, but none of it seemed familiar after such a long time. The bus stopped close to the entrance gates and, walking into the palace grounds, we had a great view of the main buildings which have been superbly maintained.

Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace
1972 photo of Schonbrunn
My January 1972 photo of Schonbrunn

And a lot further back in time……

Painting by Bernardo Bellotto 1758
Painting by Bernardo Bellotto 1758
Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace

 

Schonbrunn Palace - view towards the hill
Schonbrunn Palace – view towards the hill which since 1775 has been crowned by the Gloriette structure
Call back the past - my 1972 photo of Schonbrunn
Call back the past – my 1972 photo of the hill with the Gloriette structure
Golden Eagle - meet live Crow
Golden Eagle – meet live Crow

We learnt later that the palace attracts some 8 million visitors each year – that’s  more than 20,000 per day! It didn’t seem that busy or overcrowded, probably due to the efficient systems that are in place to regulate the flow of tourists.

Heading inside, our guide took us through the main ceremonial rooms, just touching on the 1441 rooms that make up the whole palace. No internal photography is allowed so I could not do my usual photo record – suffice to say the internal design and finishes were very much up to “Grand European Palace” standards and worthy of its World Cultural Heritage status. Here is one photo from Wikipedia which illustrates the opulence of the interior design –

Interior of the Great Gallery (Wikipedia)
Interior of the Great Gallery (Wikipedia)

Palace Gardens

With no restrictions on external photography, I took a walk around the impressive gardens while Gerda did some gift shopping and took in the colourful early spring displays of flowers as I wandered around the extensive pathways. Despite the numbers of other tourists I found some quiet spots away from the madding crowd.

Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens

No tour would be complete without a visit to a coffee shop and Schönbrunn’s was up to standard with its offerings. We enjoyed a Wiener Melange (similar to cappuccino) and a taster plate of three of the famous cakes – Mozart, Zachertorte and Himbeer-Topfen – all very tasty.

Trio of cakes and a Wiener Melange coffee
Trio of cakes and a Wiener Melange coffee

Not having done the city tour, it was nice to get a brief glimpse of Vienna during the 40 minute drive there and back – a couple of unique sights caught our eye : the “underground” train that travels for kilometres through the city on an elevated track and the most unusual “Incinerator” building which is beyond quirky.

Incinerator building glimpsed from the bus
Incinerator building glimpsed from the bus

Sunday 24 April

Budapest

Another day, another new city – and country – this time Budapest in Hungary. The boat had travelled through the night to our new destination. Breakfast was a bit later as we were only due to dock in Budapest at 10h30.

The approach into Budapest to our dock  gave us good views of both “halves” of the city, Buda and Pest on opposite sides of the river, each with several impressive buildings on view.

Monument to St Gerard who was rolled down the hill in a barrel
Monument to St Gerard who was rolled down the hill in a barrel

We relaxed on board until lunchtime, then took the city tour after lunch which included a drive-by of some of the main historical features of Buda and Pest. An extended stop allowed a short walk up a hill to the St Matthews Church which had a less gilded interior than others we have seen, but almost more attractive for it.

 St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
St Matthews Church
Spring flowers
Spring flowers

Our charming guide gave us an insight into the history of the once divided city and how the two halves were united. Wikipedia’s version is a neat summary of events :

The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241–42. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank on 17 November 1873. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956″.

Budapest street scene
Budapest street scene
Paprika for sale
Paprika for sale

The bridges between the two halves of the city are a feature of Budapest, making crossing the Danube an interesting affair. Old cast iron bridges vie with more recent suspension bridges for “Best Bridge in Budapest” (no, there is no such competition but the alliteration is irresistible).

Liberty Bridge
Liberty Bridge
Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge

The only other longish stop was at the commemorative Hero’s Square with the usual complement of monumental structures and statues, including a circle of imposing Magyar horsemen.

Hero's Square
Hero’s Square
Hero's Square
Hero’s Square
Hero's Square
Hero’s Square

Less imposing but more fun was the sight of tourists on a “Beer bike” enjoying a beer or two while pedalling in unison on a 4 wheeled contraption with draught on tap and space for about 5 or 6 pedallers/revellers – not sure how many of the sights they will remember.

Beer bike
Beer bike

Back on the boat there was time for a leisurely dinner before the evening cruise through Budapest began, preceded by locals performing folk music and dancing. We chose to miss the latter and made our way to our cabin where we did the evening cruise in style, lying in bed with the cabin lights off and the curtains wide open.

Budapest’s significant river frontage buildings are brilliantly lit up at night and presented quite a sight as we cruised gently down the river and back up again for over an hour – what a way to end the day!

Parliament
Parliament
Budapest by night
Budapest by night
Budapest by night
Budapest by night
Budapest by night
Budapest by night
Liberty Bridge
Liberty Bridge
Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge

More to come…

A horse farm near Budapest, then on to Bratislava in Slovakia. But that will have to wait for the next post.

Danube River Cruise – Passau to Vienna

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.

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.

Embarkation in Passau

Thursday 21 April at 16h00 was the time for embarkation, according to the info we had been given. We had played it safe and had the pre-booked shuttle pick us up at 10h30 from our hotel in Prague to make sure we would be in good time. We travelled through Czech countryside for a couple of hours, then through twisty mountain passes into Germany and reached Dock A13 in Passau some four hours later in comfortable and safe style (CK Shuttle are highly recommended).

Our home for the next week, the Amadeus Royal, awaited us in all its splendour at the dockside.

We were too early to board, but fortunately the cruise boat accepted our luggage, so we were able to go and find a relaxing cup of tea at a nearby café, where we sat outside and soaked up the atmosphere until 3 pm at which time we were allowed to board.

The cabin was similar to the one we had during our Alaska cruise – on a large cruise ship – but with no balcony, just a sliding door. However we saw the reason for that when we went through some of the locks, with just enough space to squeeze the boat in. The afternoon on the boat was taken up with relaxing in the forward panorama lounge and a briefing by the cruise director in German and excellent English.

We were curious to find out whether the dining experience would be as good as anticipated and were not disappointed – the first meal set the standard with a four course dinner including starter, soup, main meal and dessert, all nicely presented and quite delicious, fortunately in fairly small portions, so that we never felt bloated.

Our waiter Ivan, from Croatia, was excellent, looking after our every whim and he was quick to get us into a routine of deciding on our main course for the next meal in advance, so that he was always fully prepared. The wine waiter Zi-zi , also from Croatia, made sure we had our share of the complimentary wines at dinner, a happy situation for South Africans paying in our weak Rands.

The Maitre’d had placed us in a section of the dining room  amongst two groups of other South Africans, which was a pleasant surprise and made for a convivial atmosphere for most of the trip.

Friday 22 April

Our first full day on board and, as it turned out,  a busy one indeed! After breakfast and docking at Emmersdorf, a small town in Austria (Population 1731 according to Wikipedia), we were collected by bus, taken across a nearby bridge and for a short drive to Melk Abbey, a magnificent example of Baroque architecture, with curves in all the right places.

Melk Abbey entrance
Melk Abbey entrance
Melk Abbey sculpture
Melk Abbey sculpture
Melk Abbey - modern replacement of bomb damaged facade
Melk Abbey – modern replacement of bomb damaged facade

The abbey guide was a demure looking young lady, who turned out to have a mischievous sense of humour and a full complement of informative and interesting facts as she led us through a series of rooms, each depicting an aspect of the history of the Abbey and the religious beliefs of the time.  Many of the displays were done in a modern way using lighting and projection to add to the impact.

Melk Abbey - lady in a painting
Melk Abbey – lady in a painting
Melk Abbey - strange figure in a painting
Melk Abbey – strange figure in a painting

We were guided through the abbot’s chambers, along the imperator’s walk, through the marble hall, the balconies and the library.

Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey – the beauty of simplicity
Melk Abbey - one of the highly decorated ceilings
Melk Abbey – one of the highly decorated ceilings
Melk Abbey - oef this is heavy
Melk Abbey –  this is hard work!
Melk Abbey - Views from the balcony
Melk Abbey – Views from the balcony
Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey

The abbey church was last on the list and the opulence of it was astounding, with so many gilded statues and decorations it was hard to take it all in.

Melk Abbey - stairway to heaven?
Melk Abbey – stairway to heaven?
Melk Abbey - the Church
Melk Abbey – the Church
Melk Abbey - the Church
Melk Abbey – the Church

The history of the abbey goes a long way back – all the way to the 10th century to be inexact – when it started out as a castle, later being handed over to the Benedictines.  Over the years it was variously sacked and burnt by succeeding marauders, but survived until it was rebuilt in the early 1700’s, since when it has stood as a supreme example of the Baroque period.

Melk Abbey - beautiful architecture
Melk Abbey – beautiful architecture

In case, like me, you are desperate to know more about Baroque architecture, here is an extract from Wikipedia :

Baroque architecture is the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late 16th-century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and the absolutist state. It was characterized by new explorations of form, light and shadow, and dramatic intensity.

So now you know……….

This is what I think of it –

Melk Abbey

Just joking…

After the abbey tour there was time for a tea and (wait for it) apfelstrudel at the restaurant, which was superb.

Melk Abbey - apfelstrudel
Melk Abbey – stylish apfelstrudel

The tour rounded off with a stop at a wine-tasting venue and a sampling of the local Wachau wines – the wines were not particularly memorable, the venue was crowded and the presentation rather too “touristy” for our liking, so we were happy when it was done and we could walk the short distance back to the boat.

We were just in time for lunch,  while our boat headed east towards our next stop at Vienna – the day was not yet done!

By late afternoon we had docked in Vienna, a city we last visited as newly weds some 44 years ago, so our memories were faded at best, totally absent at worst and it was like visiting a new place. We had pre-booked a package of tours which included a “Sound of Vienna” evening tour so, just after an early dinner, we were once again taken by bus into the city and to the Kursalon Wien for a concert in a large “salon” – a hall packed with about 500 straight-backed chairs.

Vienna - sounds of Vienna
Vienna – sounds of Vienna
Vienna - sounds of Vienna
Vienna – sounds of Vienna
Vienna - sounds of Vienna
Vienna – sounds of Vienna

The music and accompanying performances by singers and dancers was beautiful and good for the soul, just a pity they find it necessary to pack in so many people, 99% tourists, into a venue that is not designed for it.

Vienna - sounds of Vienna

More to Come………

While in Vienna we visited Schonbrunn Palace and I had a walk along the river – more about that and the next stop in the next post