We have wanted to do a european river cruise for a very long time. The Budapest to Amsterdam cruise fit many of the countries we wanted to see. Viking picked us up at the Budapest airport and bussed us to the boat, no muss, no fuss. We found our cabin decorated in what I call Swedish modern, sleek and pleasing. We both loved the bathroom, the heated floor was well beyond what we expected.
There are two eateries on board: the main dining room and the Aqauvit “cafe” at the bow of the boat. We ended up eating all breakfasts and most lunches at Aquavit because it was like eating at a sidwalk cafe except the sidwalk was the river. We could eat while watching, hearing, and smelling the surrounding countryside slide by. The main dining room was a great meeting place for dinner. The large tables resulted in seatings of groups of people that started the meals as strangers and ended up as friends. Most nights the main dining room offered aregional menu in addition to the standard menu. The Regional menu offered a chance to try local cuisine that would never be available at home. In most cases it was a pleasant surprise.
The on board entertainment was uniformly excellent. The two person lounge combo was thoroughly professional and had a breathtakingly broad repetoire. Viking brought in opera singers and a glassblower for unexpected types of entertainment. There were frequent historical seminars, usually as preludes for the next day’s excursions which greatly helped understand the history behind the excursion.
We booked a suite so we would have extra room to relax when we were in the cabin. The Veranda Suite fit our desires perfectly. The balcony outside the sitting room was a great place to read a book, get fresh air, watch the scenery go by. The bed was good for sleeping and for storing suitcases underneth. We loved the bathroom with the heated floor. The safe was big enough for everything we wanted to put in it. The decor of the cabin was pleasant without artificial “fanciness”. Overall, a very nice 15 day home-away-from-home.
The Regensburg tour was led by a nice lady that knew lots of little facts about the old town as well as the big facts that show up in the tourist brochures. She made the old town feel charming, relevant, and made me want to live there.
The bus tour hit many points of interest pecular to Nuremberg. It was very interesting to this tourist. Then we did a foot tour of the Old Walled City to view an authentic medieval city. We finished the tour in the square at the foot of the hill across from the cathedral. The ornate fountain in the square seemed to be an attraction to both tourists and locals. Our guide was a local with great knowlege of the tour subject matter
We took the Franconian Countryside tour. We bussed to the Country House of the Bamberg Prince Bishop, all 400 acres of it. Then to a beer tasting in a local village. Next we bussed to an incredible Pilgramage Church in a remote region. Out last stop was another small town to see The Witches Tower, but we were caught in a hail storm one corner before the Witches Tower. That dampened everyones enthusiasm for touring, so we returned to the boat. Good tour, the hail wasn’t dangerous, but the rain was col.
The Werzburg Palace was one of the spectacular sights I have ever seen.
We took the cable car across the river to the prison side, then toured the confluence of the two rivers and the giant statue of Wilhelm I. Lots of regional culture there. Particularly when we learnedthat Wilhelm’s statue was destroyed in WW2 and one couple paid to have another statue made.