My husband and I traveled with another couple for our first European River Cruise. I’d been wanting to do one of these cruises for years, so when the opportunity came up to go with our friends we jumped on it. It was less than three weeks from the time we made the decision, to the time we were flying to Budapest!
We decided to do five days in Budapest before boarding the cruise ship and four days in Paris after disembarking in Amsterdam. We are so glad we added the extra nights on both ends. Budapest is a fantastic city and Paris is more than I could have ever imagined!
We were contacted by Avalon the day before we left the U.S. regarding the water levels on the Danube. Apparently, they were having issues and we were not going to be getting on the ship in Budapest, rather we would be transported by bus to Bratislava, Slovakia for our day tour there, and then driven to Austria to board a ship there, where the water levels were higher. They offered us the option to cancel the entire cruise if we wanted, for a refund, but we were already in Los Angeles (we live in Arizona) and the four of us decided to go anyway.
I loved the cabin. We brought large luggage, so there wasn't really a great place to stow them, but we managed. There was plenty of hanging closet space, shelves for other items, drawers at the desk for my cosmetics, and plenty of room in the bathroom for the things I needed to keep in there. It could have had better lighting, but I like a very bright space and always appreciate the ability to turn on more lights if needed. We slept with the balcony door open on several nights to let the cool air come in, so that was nice. During our trip, we had to change ships, and although the second one was just as nice, it did not have a computer to use in the common lobby area, and the decor was slightly different - I liked the colors in my room on the first ship better than the second. Which, to most people, is a very insignificant detail. :)
I loved EVERYTHING about Budapest! So much so, I can't wait to get back to this city. The Parliament Building is fantastic, a definite must-see. We were in Budapest for 5 days before the cruise started so we were able to walk around and see quite a bit. We stayed on the Pest side, which has a lot more activity than Buda. We would have liked to visit the Budapest History Museum but the day we went the lines were INSANE so we passed. My husband and I went to the Gellért Thermal Bath and really enjoyed it. He went to the Terror Museum, we walked around the parks, we visited local markets, we found a great laundromat (needed to wash a few items!), discovered a lot of great restaurants, met a local through EatWith.com who cooked us dinner in his own home. Really great city!
We weren't in Bratislava very long but I loved every minute of it. It has a city center that is photo worthy at every turn, with winding stone streets to take you past the little shops and restaurants. We did have a few snacks here but did not eat a meal. I enjoyed the shops, bought some of their famous honey wine, and took lots of pictures. It's a charming village.
An amazing display of talent! Singers and musicians. Extremely enjoyable night.
My husband an I used the bicycles provided by Avalon to ride around the town. Very enjoyable!
I really enjoyed this town. There were lots of shops, I bought a great purse. I'm not sure this qualifies as a good review of the town for most people, but the shops were interesting, lots of things to look at, etc. Lunch at The Sausage Kitchen was fantastic. Don't miss this place! Housed in a building that was built in 1135 AD, it claims to be the oldest continuously open public restaurant in the world. Go for the sausages!!
The Würzburg Residence palace is an absolute MUST SEE! It is one of the most beautiful buildings I've been inside of, with a rich history. Do some research before you go and make sure you put this on your list of things to see. After the tour, take a little walk through the town back to the ship. We really enjoyed this tour!
In this city, we went to Siegfried's Mechanical Museum where you can view some of the approximately 350 self-playing, mechanical music instruments spanning 3 centuries. A VERY interesting tour with happy, uplifting tour guides! How can you not be happy around musical instruments that play themselves? Make sure not to leave the town before having their famous Rüdesheim Coffee. Delicious!
The Cathedral is worth seeing. Do a self-tour or go with the group. It's a pretty amazing structure with a wonderful history.
Interesting. Worth the visit, especially if you like diamonds!