Thursday, April 04, 2013

Viking's Grand European River Cruise: Abridged

WE DID IT!  And for those of you who didn't see this on my Facebook page, here's the short version of our incredible 15-day river cruise in one swell foop:

Day 1: Amsterdam, Netherlands. 
The only thing we wanted to do today (besides find our longship, which is the middle one of the 3 above) was to walk to the Python Bridge from 2001, which we hadn't yet seen. It was a two-hour walk total and was a good way to start our cruise. So far so good. :)
[Amsterdam is in our backyard, which is why we didn't do anything else our first day.]

Day 2: Kinderdijk, Netherlands. 
We sailed through the night from Amsterdam to Kinderdijk where we just spent the morning. Before we lose our internet connection [which never happened!], while sailing the rest of the day and night to Cologne, here's a taste of Holland. Kinderdijk is just half an hour's drive from where we live in the Netherlands and is a UNESCO site...even on a grey winter's day.
[My blog header is from Kinderdijk and is another of our favorite backyard sites.]

  After Kinderdijk this morning we've been on the Waal river all day, sailing towards Cologne, Germany. We even sailed past our city, Gorinchem. Besides an obligatory fire drill, we played sjoelen (table shuffleboard). Astrid grew up on it and came in second, losing by one point. As she says, "More Dutch you cannot get!"
[click any collage to enlarge]

Day 3: Cologne, Germany. 
We've been in this one spot all day in gloriously SUNNY weather. The Dom/Cathedral is the main draw, but so is the St. Martin Church and the white Alte Abbey across the Rhine river. The Hohenzollern Bridge that crosses the Rhine has love padlocks the entire length (we're guessing over a million). Yes, we're in heaven!
 [We were at their Christmas markets this past December, for those who remember.]

Day 4: Koblenz and Middle Rhine, Germany. 
Today was a day of castles. First, this morning we took a tour through the Marksburg Castle, which is Germany's oldest castle that was never conquered or destroyed or damaged in its 800 years (top left image). In the afternoon we sat on the top deck in the sun, looking at some of the 29 castles on a 16-mile stretch of the Middle Rhine. Heaven!

 Day 5: Miltenberg, Germany. 
We're passing through 60+ locks on this cruise and today was the first day of watching several of them. We could reach out and touch the lock walls, that's how close we were.  Our excursion today was in a little medieval town, Miltenberg, with half-timbered, gabled houses. It was like a fairytale.

 Day 6: Rothenburg and Würzburg, Germany. 
We're on the Main River now, still sailing through lock after lock. Today we visited the best-preserved medieval town in Germany (Rothenburg), followed by Würzburg where we visited the Bishops' Residenz/Palace. As Astrid says, we're short of eyes!

 Day 7: Bamberg, Germany. 
We're on the canal between the Main and Danube rivers right now. It was a gloriously sunny day today but freezing cold! Bamberg is known for its rauchbier/smoked beer. :)

 Day 8: Nuremberg, Germany. 
This is Bavaria's 2nd largest city and is sister to Atlanta [where I lived 25 years]! No wonder I love this place, with its medieval old town and castle. We're still sailing the canal between the Main and Danube rivers.

 Day 9: Regensburg, Germany. 
We're on the Danube River now and this is its oldest city, among the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. And because it's Sunday, we spent much of the afternoon inside many of its churches. South Germany is very Roman Catholic!

 Day 10: Passau, Germany. 
Before sailing into Austria tonight, we stopped this morning in this border town at the confluence of the 3 rivers, Inn, Ilz and the Danube. St. Steven's Cathedral, built in 1688, boasts the largest pipe organ outside of the USA. It's still bitter cold with off and on sun, but no rain! We even saw some snowflakes this afternoon.

Day 11: Melk and Krems/Stein, Austria. 
We woke up to snow today and then watched it snow all day. This morning we stopped in Melk to see the 900-year-old abbey. After lunch we sailed along the Wachau Valley and then stopped in Stein, next door to Krems, where we spent time walking through the little town. Snow and more snow, all day. 
We were like little kids!

 Day 12: Vienna, Austria. 
 It's impossible to synthesize this day into one collage, but here it is regardless. What can I say! You'd need to spend days here to "get" it. Just glad we could taste it.

 Day 13: Bratislava, Slovakia. 
We were here only for the morning but fell totally in love with this capital city, with a chance to visit the castle as well as the main square of the old town. Don't you love how they can take a joke!

Day 14: Budapest, Hungary. 
Today is our last full day of our river cruise. Lots of rain. Tomorrow we disembark and then stay another 4 days on our own to explore this incredible city, rain or shine. It really has been the trip of a lifetime for us both! Thanks to all of you who have been following it with us.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

We did indeed stay another 4 days in Budapest on our own to see the sights!  We flew back home to the Netherlands yesterday afternoon and are now getting back into the saddle.  Astrid is back at work while I start weeding through all the photos to make more complete posts.  Stay tuned!

 In the meantime, talk about "short of eyes," my favorite Dutch expression!
That's what my short post at Vision and Verb was about this past Monday.


  1. What an outstanding trip! So many interesting little towns and beautiful architecture! I bet you could have stayed in any one of these towns for several days. How many pictures did you take? Thousands? How was the food – please tell us about the ship too and the accommodations. Did you buy any souvenir? I can understand why you say it was the trip of a lifetime – so much to see, so much to enjoy.

    1. The whole thing was every bit as wonderful if not better than what we expected, Vagabonde! Because we were willing for the first of the season (with rain and snow possible, both of which we had), and because we scheduled early enough, we got 2 for the price of 1, as you already know. It's all top class--excellent dining and accommodations. You couldn't ask for more, as far as we're concerned. I can tell you more in an e-mail, if you wish. Lots of pictures every day but we uploaded them immediately and even deleted ones we didn't want.

      We bought a handful of souvenirs, like European coins/medallions of special sites and pinched pennies whenever we found the machines. We're not big on buying/accumulating things...except for the wee mementos.

  2. The trip was beyond our expectations. We were treated like Royalty. I don't know where to start to tell all the stories. The fantastic people we met, the humour we shared, the evenings that we danced... Moonriver, our English waltz.
    Thank you for taking time to make those fabulous collages and thank you for sharing this wonderful cruise with me.
    Each Christmas we will have memories of this trip, we bought Christmas ornaments to hang in the tree......

    1. Oh, yes, I forgot sabout the Christmas ornaments! Thanks for the reminder. Small things. It doesn't take much to make us happy! These are the memories that will go down in history for a long time to come. I'm still pinching myself! Thank YOU for sharing it with ME, MLMA.

  3. oh how exciting are those ports of call. i am loving medieval anything. i'll start saving my pennies for this trip :)

    1. You and hubbie would absolutely love this cruise, Maria. Start saving your pennies NOW! :)

  4. Looks like a WONDERFUL trip, Mom and Astrid! Beautiful photos, as always. I loved the photos from Budapest with the red umbrellas sprinkled throughout an otherwise gray and dreary day.

    1. Ohhhhhhhhh, thank you, dear Amykins, for looking and commenting. Now you know why we were short of eyes! And yes, those red Viking umbrellas really cheered up our rainy days! :)

  5. Welcome back Ginnie:) What a wonderful collection of pictures, your cruise sounds fantastic

    1. Thank you so much, Anne. It was a wonderful cruise and we're still pinching ourselves. Now I've got the task of trying to catch up on everyone! HA!

  6. It's wonderful to see your collages a bit bigger here than at FB! So so happy you loved it as much as you anticipated.

    1. Thank you, dear sister. FB was just a teaser then, I guess. :) I would love it if you and Don could do such a trip one day. That would be something!

  7. Hi Ginnie and Astrid. We received notification of your blog via e-mail this morning. You guys sure do take very nice pictures of the cruise. It was nice meeting you both on the cruise and look forward to viewing more of your photographs on your blog.

    Best regards, Louie and Maria

    1. YAY, Louie and Maria! Thanks for stopping by and commenting here. It'll be great to maintain contact with you over time. We have such fond memories of our times together.

  8. Replies
    1. And this is but a TASTE of the experience, Kerrin!!!

  9. Day 3 - those colorful row houses remind me of rainbow row in Charleston (and YES, you would love that city - so walkable, so photographical, and so much history) They converted to row houses (detached) because of countless fires that raged and destroyed the city in early years).

    Obviously this is a preview of what is coming... but I so hope you were allowed to photograph the inside of Marksburg Castle... what a treat that would be. So many amazing places... a day is hardly enough to savor and see it all!

    Passau look incredibly charming and I can't wait to see the post on Vienna. Slovakia will be quite interesting as my husband is half Slovak. One daughter is dark with "different" features from the rest of us - a throwback we call her :) And FOUR days in Budapest... well, I can't wait to see the details you had time to capture there!

    Looking forward to the narrative and history of all these places!

    Sounds to me like you need to do this again... two for the price of one? And you don't have to travel far to get on the boat.... you could even go "last minute" and get a better deal. ;)

    1. Your comment thrills me, Margaret. Thank you for taking the time to look carefully and to respond. Of course you will see a LOT on each day's excursions...maybe more than you'd ever want to see. HA! But as Astrid and I keep saying, these are memories for US more than anyone else. :)