North America, Europe · 29 Days · 31 Moments · August 2017

European River Cruise

24 September 2017

We traveled overnight from Dürnstein to Vienna
In Dürnstein, Austria, we saw the beautiful blue and white tower at the Abbey. The ruins of the old palace, where, legend says, Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned tower over the tiny town. Less than 250 people live in Dürnstein year-round. We had a "sundowner" event with the rest of the ship guests at a local pub. Cheese, horseradish, sliced meats and bread were served with local wine.
At 1PM (13:00) we left Melk on our way to Dürnstein, Austria.
Some more from Melk Abbey. The only internal shots I could take was in the royal (and pink) stairwell. Off the back balcony by the library you can see the entire town of Melk and the beginning of the Wachau Valley. Melk is a tiny medieval town surrounding the Abbey.
In Melk, Austria, we took a short bus ride to the Melk Abbey. We can only take pictures outside in the many courtyards. Queens and Kings frequented this palace and it is decorated in the Baroque style. They hold many relics and treasures as well as have an active Abbey and school.
Overnight our boat sailed from Linz to Melk, Austria.

23 September 2017

We rode the bus to Linz, Austria where our boat traveled during the day. Before we left Linz, Austria, we were treated to Austrian folk dancers (Schuhplattler dancers). It featured stomping, clapping, slapping, hooting and an accordion accompaniment.
We continued into Salzburg to see the love lock bridge, Mozart's birthplace and the coffee shop he frequented through his life. We had a lunch of schnitzel at St. Peter's, the oldest restaurant in Europe - run as a restaurant since 803. We were in Salzburg during a festival of its founding (freedom from Roman Empire), Ruperti. Many people were there to enjoy the festivities (like a carnival) and pop-up beer houses. Most were in their traditional dress of lederhosen and dirndl.
After docking in Passau, Germany, we traveled by bus to Salzburg, Austria. We started in the Palace that was used to shoot much of the Sound of Music. It is also home to the Mozart University where only 1600 students are admitted for free (after assessment of their talent, of course).

22 September 2017

Said goodbye to Regensburg, Germany and sailed to Passau, Germany overnight.
We were treated to the only beer still brewed in the abbey, the Dunkel (All the other styles are brewed nearby, and a pretzel at the biergarten. The "cauldrons" are dedicated to Mary and Jesus.
Traveled by bus from Regensburg (Roman and Medieval) through Kelheim and to Weltensburg Abbey to see the biergarten, cathedral and river. River boat ride was pretty - through the fast-flowing Danube gorge. External of cathedral was simple, but interior was high Baroque style - decorated in the true meaning of Baroque, or, illusion. The cathedral is meant to look like a stage and has 3 levels regular life (dark, lower level), enlightenment (middle, half-lit by the sun) and heaven (where the windows allow the most light). The crucifix is rather small and 2 balconies deepen the feeling of the theatre.
Woke up to the sounds of going through a squeaky lock as we continued heading to Regensburg, Germany. Had breakfast and learned about the many locks on the Danube and it's surrounding canals. Connecting the northern part of the main river and the southern part (and delta) began during the Roman Empire and the entire project was finally completed in 1992.

21 September 2017

We also saw the birthplace of the artist Albrecht Dürer, the famous church seen in many WWII propaganda films, and explored the square where the famous Christmas market is held every year. A medieval fountain stands here and was the most protected item during WWII, surrounded by a makeshift concrete wall. The church in the square is Lutheran and was previously a synagogue. We stopped at a historic restaurant to try a local Pilsner and Nürnberg sausages.
Walked around the medieval area of Nürnberg, Germany. Saw the palace, where the moat was always a public garden (instead of holding water) and learned about how it has been slowly restored since the bombings of WWII damaged 90% of its structures. The palace is now a museum and people live in all of the buildings around the palace. It is one of the only European cities left with 90% of its original medieval walls still intact. Many of the medieval protective "traps" still exist including the "death holes" in the walkways where molten liquid was poured over intruders and the angled moat entrances which prevented ramming of the outer doors.

20 September 2017

Traveled from Prague, Czech Republic to Nuremberg, Germany. Sat through initial welcome/orientation and had dinner at the "fancy" onboard restaurant, "Portobellos". Watched a German Zither player in the lounge before going to bed

19 September 2017

We walked back over the bridge to the Jewish Quarter and visited the old Jewish cemetery, the oldest (still in use) synagogue in Europe (Starnova or old/new synagogue) AND the newest synagogue in Prague, the Spanish synagogue.
After breakfast and a nap we found some Garnets earrings, some cute shoes (at Bata) and went to the historic Wenceslas Square. We stopped for some hot chocolate (at the red chair cafe) before heading across the bridge to the Prague Lennon wall. It was very colorful and busy.
We began our 3rd day on an early 6:30AM walk to Charles Bridge to see it without all the crowds. We were pleasantly surprised by beautiful fog that made a mystical atmosphere. It was also very cold (low 40s).

18 September 2017

We hiked up some stairs to get to Prague Castle and explored a bit in that area. We ended our day back in the old town square with the sun setting on Tyn Church.
We got to see the last beach on the river that wasn't blocked by embankment. We tried a Czech liquor and then began to explore on our own. We saw a very interesting fountain, the WWII memorial and then went to the oldest pub in Prague (from 1375) to have "homemade beer of love".
Crossing over the Charles Bridge and walking into the "lesser city" of Prague which is lower and prone to flooding from the river.
Beginning of our tour this AM with our guide Pavel. More of the old town of Prague - main square and medieval city areas.

17 September 2017

Just walking around and doing some initial exploration in Prague before orientation.
Our room and view at the Prague Marriott - downtown old city!

16 September 2017

Having a food break at Blue Smoke in Terminal 4.
Flying from SFO to JFK to meet Mom before we hop over the pond. The media system was working fine for me, but not others so they had to reboot it - doesn't seem to be going well. Kind of a "hold on to your butts" situation. Little blue lights above our seats are flashing on and off and the screens have "x's" or small cursors. Do they need an IT person?

28 August 2017

Excited to be leaving in less than a month to begin my journey in Europe.

27 August 2017