river cruise

Budapest–Who Knew? 6/25/15

We are venturing into unfamiliar territory. With all the changes these poor Iron Curtain countries have gone through, they are probably unfamiliar even to the locals. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, we saw as we sailed by yesterday, so it’s still unfamiliar. We did notice that the condition of the barges we pass on the river has gone from ship-shape to rust-bucket. A “vintage” Slovakian dredge squalled for grease so desperately we heard it a mile upriver. Budapest is another story. Cruisers are so anxious to get in that our ship is triple-parked. We walk through the two other ships’ […]

Vienna Victory 6/23/15

Vienna, what can I say?  It’s so stuffed with ostentation, it’s too much to take in.  To be important back when was to have the biggest edifice closest to the royals.  So the approach to the Imperial Palace is lined for kilometers with elbow-to-elbow palaces.  Inside the Imperial Palace, the Imperial Treasury flaunts priceless crowns, relics, robes–every sort of royal paraphernalia.  I had to keep reminding myself that these were not reproductions.  Kings wore them.  Kings who ruled empires that changed the course of civilization. At the palace entrance I wondered about several sculptures of violent scenes.  They depicted the tasks of Hercules.  Really?  Those statues were […]

Bohemian Forest Treasures 6/22/15

Passau is small–50,000 people, and our ship is double parked on a little peninsula surrounded by steep wooded hillsides. I’ve been yearning to see the forest from the inside, so I took advantage of a trail, just over a bridge, to a castle on the hill. Steve took advantage of the opportunity to groan over being “forced” to climb it with me. It was of course, terrific. At least one pretty little vine of ivy graced almost every tree, and the fortress walls were covered with it. After a couple flights of steps the view grabbed even Steve–the old city […]

Fitting In 2

Can you spot the American? Before our trip, a friend said that she wore leather shoes on her trip to Europe because Europeans don’t wear tennis shoes everywhere like we gauche Americans.  Looking like an American seems dicey.  So many people love to hate us, and when we’re liked, it’s usually because we are so easily parted with our dollars.  So I paid top dollar for a pair of non-athletic shoes and then wondered if shoes would really do the trick. IF Steve and I remembered to take off our Vantage badge and headset receiver and camera when we left […]

The Devil is in the Danube 6/20/15

Hoax alert:  the Blue Danube is murky green.  Never trust a song writer. Regensburg’s old bridge—or Devil’s Bridge is another sketchy Danube tale.  The bridge’s 12th century builder hurried construction by promising the Devil ownership of the first three souls to cross the finished bridge.  On dedication day the builder preserved the souls of the highest officials of the church and city by sending three farm animals across first.  Furious, the Devil tried to demolish the bridge but only made arches where his back pushed up from the river. The festival scheduled in Regensburg worried our cruise director that “happy” […]

Nuremberg Beauties 6/19/15

“ABC” stands for “another beautiful church” or “another bloody castle”.   An earlier tour group substituted “D(amned)” for “B” after they’d hit “C” overload.  We’ve seen a good many Cs by now, but the fortress on the hill in Nuremberg was still a joy to behold.  I felt like I might look up and see archers on the tower or hear a flagged trumpet blaring forth a royal procession.  A sign on one of the inner doors set me back a step–Private Residence.  People live there.  I love the old stone walls, but homes need windows…and parking spaces.  What is it […]

Bridges of Bamberg 6/18/15

Today our ship takes the high road.  We’ll even cruise a bridge over the Autobahn.  I guess I’m not the only one who was ignorant about the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal (RMD) because onboard lecture about it was packed.  The first false start on a connection between the North Sea and Atlantic to the Black sea was launched by my great (to some immense power) uncle Charlemagne in the 700s.  The efforts that followed were only semi-successful until the RMD Canal opened in 1992.  The big hang-up was crossing the continental divide, which the RMD Canal manages with 16 locks to float […]

Wurzburg wine cellar and Rothenburg romance 6/19/15

We hear a lot about prince-bishops in this area because they used their civic and church powers to amass fortunes and then build mementos to their greatness.  The Wurzburg Residence is one of those monuments and way too opulent for me.  Maybe there were some complaints at the time too because one of the palace planners confessed to being possessed by a Bauwurm–a building bug.  Room after room of in-your-face excess had me queasy.  I kept wondering how many children went hungry to pay for all that laborious gold leaf.  The last room we toured showed pictures of the ruin […]

Marktheidenfeld Barbeque Bash 6/16/15

I started a spectacular day with a walk along the river outside this pretty little town.  The forested hills leveled off to valley floor just across the road.  On my side the tallest grasses were head-high.  I heard a cuckoo and looked around for a house that must have a very loud clock.  I saw neither building nor beak, but I’m betting it was a sneaky bird. Our tour took us to an old paper mill which a young couple operates as a museum.  His family ran the mill for several generations.  She was Scandinavian, and they met at some […]