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PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:33 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:05 pm
Posts: 8
June and I are looking forward to our river cruise aboard Viking River Cruises ship "Viking Tor". Watch this space daily as we go.

Start - Friday 07/04/2017

Day 1. 07/04
Birmingham, Munich, Passau
Early start at 05:30 lift to Birmingham Airport by Nichol. 07:10 Lufthansa flight to Munich arriving approximately 11:30. Onward journey by coach to Passau, Germany, to join the ship at 18:30. Settled into our cabin (number 224) and tested all the'goodies' eg. large wall mounted TV etcetera. After our evening meal we didn't waste too much time going to bed after a long day.

Day 2. 08/04
09:30 to 11:30 Roger went on a guided tour of Passau with a very informative guide called Alex. At 1,785 miles the Danube is Europe's second longest river after the Volga but, whilst the Volga runs through solely through Russia, the Danube runs through ten countries on its route from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea. Enough of that...suffice it to say, the tour was very interesting and there should be plenty of water to get us to all the destinations in our planned holiday.
Once back aboard we had a quiet lunch in the lounge during which time the ship set sail from Passau en route for Linz. We spent the afternoon talking with other 'shipmates' in the lounge. An American lady told us the story of how she started and successfully ran her designer clothing business which was very interesting. She is now obviously reaping her well deserved well deserved reward!
19:00. We had a long evening meal chatting with our table companions Rod and Caroline Bess from Virginia until 21:00 then headed for our cabin and another early night.

Day 3. 09/04
07:45. Woken by pounding Status Quo rock music "Whatever You Want" floating downriver from the town of Linz where a road Marathon race was due to start at 09:30. We recovered in time for a light breakfast and casual morning. At 13:57 we took a taxi to St Paul's Cathedral which was large and impressive but unusually, compared with our British equivalents, completely devoid of any signs of clergy or staff of any description. Well we had a good look around and conscientiously fed the pay boxes for any cards that we purchased! We experienced a little difficulty arranging for a taxi to return us to the ship. Eventually we accosted a couple of unsuspecting local pedestrians one of whom could speak English and had a taxi with us within a couple of minutes.
19:00. Back to the dining saloon for another excellent meal with Canadian friends Kathy and Rob Bewell and American friends Rod & Caroline Bess. Chatted until 21:00 then headed for our cabin. I paid a visit to the lounge which was having a "Sound of Music" evening and heard a girl with a beautiful voice sing "Climb any mountain" and "Edelweiss".

Day 4. 10/04
Melk, Durnstein
09:15 to 11:30. Roger went on a guided tour of Melk Abbey. The Abbey is simply fantastic. It is in pristine condition inside and out with cleaning and renovations being carried out continuously. It has an uninterrupted history for the past 900 years especially as it has managed to avoid damage from all of the wars which have raged around the area. I took the coach to the Abbey but returned to the ship on foot which involved a pleasant walk through the pretty village, across a small bridge and a lovely country walk arriving nicely in time for lunch.
From 11:15 to 15:30 we sailed through the Wachau Valley called into the small typically pretty town of Durnstein. There are the ruins of a castle at the top of a 500ft hill where Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner for six months in 1192-93. There is a path from the village to the top which has small displays in words and pictures about the castle's history. Of course Roger had to have his photograph taken at the top and be back in time for dinner!!
19:00 to 21:00. Dinner and chat with friends...then off to our cabin for TV and bed.

Day 5. 11/04
06:50. Early up in preparation for today's coach tour of Vienna. June and I had a comfortable seat with a good window for photographs. The first famous sight we saw was the huge world famous Ferris wheel which is almost 200 feet high and was featured in the film "The Third Man". The tour guide pointed out all the well known buildings including the Opera House from which the Strauss concert is broadcast annually on the 1st January. We paid a visit to St Stephen's cathedral which was beautiful. As we entered "Fur Elise" was being played which was wonderful as it brought back memories of Nichol playing it when she was young.
12:30. Back to the ship in time for a pleasant, leisurely lunch followed by a restful afternoon trying to update this log but ship's PC was very slow. We were warned by Viking that this can occur on these voyages as they have to use whatever internet links are available en route.
19:30. We enjoyed a tasty evening meal with Viennese speciality dishes. Our table was shared with Chuck & Donna from Florida and an American couple from Tucson which has an unusual and interesting micro-climate. The wife of the couple was originally English!
Early bed for tomorrow's early start.

Day 6. 12/04
Bratislava, Budapest
04:10. Awoken by the ship mooring at Bratislava. The sky was inky black with a brilliant moon shining out of it. Additionally we were treated to the lights of two bridges and a castle on a hill as the ship swung through 360 degrees on to it's mooring.
06:45. Early rise in readiness for today's tour. June and I had our usual coffee and croissants, from the self service bar on the deck above, in our cabin.
08:30. Roger was off on a coach and walking tour of Bratislava in the company of American friends, Gene and Lynn. One particularly memorable moment was at the beautiful Bratislava Castle at the top the hill. We had watched some soldiers rolling up a very long red carpet which had presumably been used for some visiting dignitary and they were getting to depart in their truck. Gene decided that he would go and have a word with them. A few moments later I decided to follow him and arrived in time to hear him telling the soldiers that he had fought in the Vietnam war. Before we parted company from them their leader ripped off a rather impressive badge from his uniform (Velcro backed) and gave it to Gene who promptly stuck on the front of his jersey and announced that he wear it forever! Not to leave me out the solder ripped off another of his badges, not quite so impressive, and handed it to me which no doubt I will keep forever too! The coach then took us down to the town for a walking tour which was very ancient and interesting particularly as the old 'silk route' used to pass through it. I'm sure those ancient walls have a tale or two to tell. One modern touch was a small walkway bridge which passed over a beautiful garden where couples have left padlocks to declare their everlasting love. The French Embassy is in a large square. Just outside it is a life-size bronze statue of a Napoleonic soldier casually leaning on the back of a wooden bench where tourists like to have their pictures taken...and of course we did.
There were human 'statues' one of which, after I had put a coin in his box, winked and gave me a low bow! We saw a lovely old red painted bus which held about ten passengers in use which was rather quaint. It was then only a short walk back to the ship.
12:30 We were on the move again commencing with an about turn in the river which showed off the captain's manoeuvring skills with very little space to avoid hitting the moored vessels.
June and I enjoyed a light lunch in the lounge which has large windows from which to admire the passing countryside. This was followed by a 'nautical' video about life afloat followed by a question and answer session with the captain.
14:30 to 15:30. There was an 'open wheelhouse' visit. This was particularly interesting seeing how practically everything aboard the vessel could be worked electronically from controls in the wheelhouse.
18:15. 'Captain's Cocktail Party' including complimentary drinks culminating with a "Farewell" address from Captain Fedir.
19:00. The formal 'Farewell Dinner' with our friends.
22:00. All hands on deck for the fantastic arrival at Budapest. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the cruise. A cool crisp evening sailing down the Danube with on either side with all the incredibly beautiful buildings and bridges floodlit. Amazing!!

Day 7. 13/04
09:30 to 11:30. June and I were treated to a very interesting and enjoyable coach tour of Buda and Pest. We were accompanied by our friend Gene Blagg whose wife, Lynn, was unfortunately unwell so not with us. The tour went first up though the residential area of Buda to the highest point with views over the city and river. As we went through the residential area the guide pointed out the differing building styles between the national and communist regime periods. It was pretty obvious they were pleased to see the back of Russian domination.
We then crossed the river to the Pest side which had some beautiful buildings. The coach stopped for an hour for people to visit the castle. The steps to the castle were quite steep so June and I opted to visit conveniently placed café/restaurant and enjoy some coffee and cakes which were delicious! We were later joined by some of our party until it was time to re-join the coach and return to the ship.
June and I then took a walk along the waterfront to where there is a very poignant memorial for local Jews who were killed by the Germans during WW2. The Jews were made to stand at the edge of the walkway by the river where they were shot and their bodies fell into the river to be swept away. This gruesome event has been commemorated by a long row of life-sized cement shoes which attracts many visitors some of whom leave flowers, mementos and messages.
In the afternoon I went to the talk in the lounge by our pianist, 'Christo', about music and pianos in particular. It was amusing, informative and very entertaining.
In the evening we enjoyed our final meal with Chuck and Donna which was very pleasant but unfortunately Gene and Lynn couldn't make it. After the meal we chatted with several of our shipboard friends who were swopping email addresses with their shipboard acquaintances. Then off to bed for a final night in our gorgeous cabin!

Day 8. 14/04
06:30. Up to pack our cases and had our final croissants and coffee from the self service counter.
09:00. Vacated our cabin and said 'Farewell' to our chamber maid, Katrina.
Assembled in the foyer where we parted company with our American and Canadian friends. June and I then watched the crew loading stores for the next voyage.
I took a photograph of a young man called Zaki with the "Viking Tor" behind him to send home to his family in Malaysia!
11:00. We took a taxi to Budapest Airport in the company of Sonia Crupa our Entertainments Officer who had been instrumental in making our holiday so enjoyable. He was going home to his family for a few days holiday and made even our taxi ride a pleasant journey.
14:00 We boarded our KLM plane for our journey home to Birmingham airport via Schiphol.
19:93. We were met at the airport by our daughter, Nichol, who made our final journey a very 'Welcome Home' to Solihull.

Just a little extra.
As June has some walking difficulties Viking had arranged for airport assistance for her at all airports...or so we thought. In fact they ordered assistance for BOTH of us which I declined upon arrival at the various airports...until we arrived at Birmingham. The 'pusher' of my chair insisted I sat in it and the pair cheerfully raced us both to the exit point. We really arrived home in style!!

(NB. Nautical 'log' rather than 'blog'!!).

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