Have you ever wanted to pinch yourself to see if you were having a dream? That is exactly how I felt when I arrived in Budapest, Hungary. While I had been to Europe on three previous occasions, this trip was vastly different. After forty ... Read More
Have you ever wanted to pinch yourself to see if you were having a dream? That is exactly how I felt when I arrived in Budapest, Hungary. While I had been to Europe on three previous occasions, this trip was vastly different. After forty ocean cruises, my Dad and I were embarking on our first Viking River Cruise adventure, aboard the beautiful Viking Ingvi longship. Although it wasn’t a dream, the storybook landscapes did resemble a fairy tale! From Hungary to Austria and Germany to the Netherlands, we listened to magnificent philharmonic orchestras, explored the inside of castles and windmills, and tasted delightful delicacies. If you want to feel like royalty, take the Grand European Tour with Viking River Cruises. They treat passengers like Kings and Queens!
Before the sun went down on our first evening aboard the Ingvi, we enjoyed our first Viking River Cruise dinner experience. It was simply incredible. I chose the Hungarian Farmer’s Plate for my first course, the Hungarian Goulash for my second course, and Hungarian layer cake for my dessert. The perfect meal to eat while in Hungary (or in any other part of the globe – it was amazing). Following our marvelous meal, the Captain took the entire longship for a sightseeing cruise to see the lights of the city. Budapest is so beautiful at night, with all of the buildings lit up! What an incredible sight to see!
On the second evening, the Captain held a welcome aboard party that evening as a prelude to dinner. My menu selections included the potato crusted mascarpone cheese with a truffle sabayon sauce for my first course, Chateaubriand with buttered vegetables, potatoes, and a béarnaise sauce for my entrée, and a strawberry sponge cake for dessert. It was the perfect way to end another perfect day.
The ship became a family in virtually no time at all. The majority of crew members knew our names by the second day of the cruise. The Viking Ingvi Crew provided excellent service. From Csaba, the Bar Chef, to Krisztina, the Hotel Manager, and of course, Rob, the Program Director, Tamara, the Concierge, Vivijen, the Receptionist, Daniel, the Musician, Judit, Bar Waitress, and Bojana, the Maître D', all of the crew on board worked hard to ensure that our river cruise was nothing short of exceptional. Many others contributed to an phenomenal cruise as well. Their meticulous service is very much appreciated. Many of the crew members became friends over the course of our two-week sailing.
As a little girl, I dreamed of going to Austria, home of The Sound of Music. Now, as a young woman, my wish was fulfilled. We spent three days in this beautiful country, beginning with a scenic sail through scenery that made me want to sing out, “The hills are alive…” Well, you get the picture. The first part of the day found us dining on delicious meals, watching an apple strudel demonstration, and viewing remarkable scenery.
Following a wonderful meal and a delightful “day at river,” we sprung for the Mozart and Strauss Concert that evening. Sitting on the front row of Schubert Hall, I was captivated by the excellent musicianship and talent that exuded from the platform as the Vienna Residence Orchestra performed. To welcome us back on the ship, the chef prepared Goulash soup and fresh baked bread as a late night snack, which was the perfect way to conclude a delightful evening.
Break out your lederhosen and dirndls! The first stop in Bavaria is Passau, Germany, home of the world’s largest cathedral pipe organ, boasting more than 17,000 pipes! Thanks to Viking, we were able to attend a concert to hear this monstrous musical instrument being played. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, sharing a detailed history of the “Three Rivers City,” named for the three rivers that converge in Passau: the Danube, Inn, and Ilz Rivers.
While Viking provides an excellent complimentary excursion in most ports, we chose to take the World War II tour in Nuremberg, Germany. As a Language Arts teacher, I am required to teach the Holocaust. Teaching this difficult subject becomes a little easier when I can share personal experiences with my students, such as touring Congress Hall and Courtroom 600, where the Nuremberg Trials were held. While this tour was quite the somber experience, our lovely tour guide has now become a dear friend.
Fondly known as the glass blowing capital of the world, Wertheim is home to a multi-generational family of glass blowers, one of whom came on the ship to give a demonstration. It was always exciting to have local artisans and performers join us on the ship for quality entertainment.
What a treat to be notified by the Viking Concierge that the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra was holding a free concert that afternoon! It was one of the most enjoyable concerts we experienced on our Grand European Tour.
One of the most exciting dinners on board was the Viking Taste of Germany Dinner menu, including roast leg of port, bratwurst, tiroler knödel, sauerkraut, knödel, Viennese schnitzel, roast chicken, grilled käsekrainer, potato salad, and much more!
Throughout this Grand European Tour, there were moments when goose bumps covered my arms, tears filled my eyes, and my heart was overwhelmed with joy. While my diary entries were scattered, at best, I am certain I will never forget the places we explored, the remarkable experiences we shared, and the many strangers we now call friends. My first Viking River Cruise etched indelible memories in my mind and effectively tugged on my heartstrings as well. As we received our customs form on the flight home, the reality of returning to the “real world,” began to sink in. Yet I encouraged myself with this thought: all good things must come to an end, so new ones can begin. So now the only question that remains is: when will I set sail with Viking once again?
I invite you to view my full photo log of our trip at http://www.jennifersjourneys.net/photolog.html. I am happy to answer any questions you have concerning Viking River Cruises or the destinations we visited. I would love to hear your recommendations for future travel plans as well! You may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Less