Yes, we visited 7 different places in 7 days and we did not unpack! How? We went on a River Cruise. Our River Cruise with Travel Department on board M/S Amadeus Silver III was three months ago. But we love looking back on the photos and re-living our experiences. That is one of the reasons I really enjoy writing the blog. It is also a personal diary. And it means I don’t forget the details.
My previous post told you all about the ship, the food, the craic, but not much about the wonderful places we saw. One of the reasons we like going on cruises is that it is possible to visit several places in a week without ever having to pack and unpack. On this cruise, we visited 7 different places including three capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. And we use Travel Department because we are looked after from the time we book to the time we return.
When we arrived in Munich Airport, our Travel Department facilitator Sean Crean was there to meet us and bring us on a minibus to the Bavarian city of Passau where three rivers meet. Many river cruises start here it seems. Most of the time (before joining the ship) was spent wandering through the old city famous for its Gothic and Baroque architecture. The sky was blue and we had to acclimatise to the high temperatures very quickly.
St Stephen’s Cathedral (below), famous for the second largest church organ in the world, impressed us. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the organ.
Though I preferred the black and white ornamentation in St. Paul’s where a wedding was in progress.
Next stop was Regensburg. The medieval centre of the city is an UNESCO World Heritage Site with lovely old churches and buildings. And if you are into churches, a 13th century Gothic cathedral (below) dominates the town.
The 12th century Stone Bridge is a highlight of Medieval bridge building. Crusading knights used it to cross the Danube on their way to The Holy Land.
But we crossed over it to find a beer garden and to escape the heat!
Salzburg is a beautiful city and we walked through the Mirabell Palace Gardens and wandered through the old town. There was much to see and perhaps not enough time. I loved how the mountains surrounded the city.
I was particularly taken with the architecture of the Getreidegasse. The old houses have beautiful doorways and many have arcaded passageways which connect the streets. Alongside unique businesses, you can also find shops like Zara and even a McDonalds.
But each shop is required to have an ornamental sign like the merchants and shop owners of the past.
Mozart’s birthplace can be found on this street and the ground floor is now a Spar shop!
Not only did we spend time in the city, we also had a lovely tour through the Austrian mountains and visited some of The Sound of Music locations. Below, we posed in front of the mountains where the Von Trapp family climbed in the film.
We stopped in the pretty town of Mondsee. The wedding of Maria and Captain Von Trapp was filmed inside the church below.
We woke on the Tuesday morning to a little rain, which gave us time to relax after breakfast. Though some people visited Melk Abbey and other hardy folk went to a wine tasting at 10 a.m. (both groups were delighted with their mornings), Graham and I explored Emmersdorf which is a cute little town.
Then we spent several hours cruising through the Wachau Valley, the photos you would have seen on my previous post.
DURNSTEIN which is Austria’s smallest town, was our next stop. The town is famous for its imprisonment of Richard the Lionheart by Duke Leopold V. Legend has it that the troubadour Blondel found him when he sang Lionheart’s favourite song and Richard sang back. I made it half way up to the castle when everyone else was having a drink, but chickened out half way up. I had visions of a twisted ankle.
We had been to Vienna years ago and it was lovely to be back. Following an early morning guided tour, we spent the rest of the day with two of the group exploring one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. We walked for hours along the Ringstrasse. It is an elegant city with beautiful palaces, gardens and imposing churches.
One of the highlights was a concert in a room in one of the smaller palaces. The music was wonderful and the surroundings sensational. It certainly deserves its title as The City of Music.
What a delight Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, proved to be. We visited the castle which dominates the town and has been completely restored. But the old city was more enticing and is so compact it can be easily explored on foot.
And finally to Budapest. We had visited before. But this time it was wonderful arriving into the city past iconic buildings on both sides and seeing it from a totally different perspective.
We had several hours to explore the city when we arrived including visiting the famous market, near which we were docked.
Our night cruise up and down the river past the illuminated buildings was magical and a fitting final night of our holiday.
And next morning when we had checked out and said goodbye to our wonderful crew, we had another half day of a guided tour. Budapest has so much to offer and is relatively inexpensive too.
I can only give you a flavour of what we saw. But, I can tell you we had a ball and would totally recommend a river cruise.
My trip was courtesy of Travel Department, with whom I have travelled for the past 15 years, way before I ever started the blog.
Thanks for reading.
I hope you enjoyed the post.
- press trip