River cruising on the Danube
June 8, 2019
I recently returned from sailing on the Danube on the Viking Bragi. It is a unique way to see Europe, allowing you to see Europe up close and personal, all the while having a more intimate experience all around. The ocean liners with their massive ports and thousands of passengers disembarking on a single day can be quite overwhelming. Land tours can be exhausting because of the bus travel and the packing and unpacking. So if you have never considered trying a river cruise, here's why you should.
The river cruise ships on average only accommodate up to two hundred people. There are normally only three to four decks and you get to know the amazing staff very quickly. There is not as much to do on these types of ships, which forces you to embrace your surroundings; to get to know the people and their customs and enjoy the history of their country.
I traveled with my mother and friends, the Dorners and Pimentels, and we chose to start with a pre-four day land tour before the cruise, staying in Munich and Salzburg. We toured the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, the Austrian Lake District and visited such sights as Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace and Mondsee Lake in the Salzkammergut Region of Austria (just think Sound of Music). Our hotel in Munich was next to one of the rivers that runs through the English Gardens; (we all enjoyed the beer garden.) The historic city of Munich is beautiful and should not be passed by and overlooked when traveling through that part of the country. Our hotel in Salzburg was in the old historic section, which in my opinion, is the only area of Salzburg I think you should stay. The cobblestone corridors to discover, Mozart, the food, as well as dinner and opera at the oldest restaurant in Western Europe, Stiftskeller St. Peter, (dating back to 803 AD), should make Salzburg a must see while in Europe. This part of the trip was also through Viking, and I highly recommend that if you do a pre or post add on. Their guides are exceptional.
Once we were on board, the joy of a small ship sailing you down the river from town to town became a reality and I do not know how anyone could not enjoy this. We sailed through river locks and the Wachau Valley and visited Passau Germany, Linz, Krems, and Vienna Austria, Bratislava Slovakia, and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. If you love wine, or history, or beer, or music, or beautiful scenery, you will love this itinerary! At the end we sailed into the fairy tale city of Budapest Hungary. It was all lit up at night, and undoubtedly, unlike anything we have ever seen ... it was a spectacular ending to a most memorable trip. Everyone should be able to experience a trip like this at least once in their lifetime; and I was blessed to share this with my mother and some of the most wonderful people I have ever had a pleasure to call my friends.