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PASSAU TO BUDAPEST
7 Blissful Nights on the Beautiful Blue Danube... A Perfect Blend of Cruising, Touring & Relaxation.


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How many times have you heard this expression: “Size doesn’t matter.”? Well, after a week spent cruising the Danube on a luxurious river ship from Passau to Budapest with my wife, I can honestly say that size definitely does matter.

Before explaining that comment, let me take a moment to make some observations. We’ve been to Europe plenty of times, usually just traveling around on our own by car or train. Frankly, we were tired of all the time spent getting to/from airports and train stations to those places we were truly interested in seeing. When an opportunity to take a river cruise on the Danube came up we jumped at the chance. That was a great decision! The cruise was so much less expensive than our land trips, and we learned how easy and hassle-free a river cruise can be; pack and unpack just once, and it was literally impossible for my wife to get seasick.

 

Since we didn’t want to go such a long way just for a cruise we opted to purchase a combined cruise/pre-cruise land package of 3 nights in Prague. That was a really smart move on our part because the cruise company handled all the airport and ship transfers, along with a great overview tour of Prague. Our deluxe hotel was smack dab in medieval Old Town and even included breakfast. All we had to worry about was which sights to see first!

A picture perfect city, Prague is incredible. We had a grand time visiting Prague Castle, walking across the historic 14th-century Charles Bridge into Old Town taking in all the vendors and activity and losing track of time while strolling the medieval center looking for a set of Czech crystal goblets. We also made time to stop and enjoy a few of the outdoor cafes and restaurants. If you’re a beer lover like me, well, you’ll think you died and went to heaven. Everything you’ve heard about Czech beer is true. Whatever else you do in Prague, don’t miss out on having a glass or two [or three] of beer (try Budvar or Pilsner Urquell) — you’ll thank me later!

Prague whetted our appetite for the cruise and was the perfect cure for our jet lag. We both agreed that if the 7-night cruise were anything like our time in Prague we were in for a real treat! If you would like to read more about Prague, click HERE to read the current Spotlight article on this romantic and delightful city.

Leaving Prague, we had a beautiful [included], scenic drive/tour to Passau, Germany where we boarded our ship. Passau turned out to be a very pretty city on the banks of the Danube. Being “sweet lovers,” we immediately discovered an incredible pastry shop in the train station of all places; check it out as it's only two blocks from the river. Our cabin in the middle of deck three was very spacious, beautifully furnished and best of all came with a French balcony. All signs pointed to a wonderful river cruise ahead, especially when my wife discovered the plush robes in our stateroom.

The first evening aboard saw us enjoying the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Gala and delicious cuisine. The first day’s cruising took us to Linz, Austria. Linz has a small and fairly well preserved old town, but the main reason for docking in Linz is to take a marvelous, complimentary (Ocean cruise lines, are you listening?) full day guided excursion through the incredible “Sound of Music” city of Salzburg. On our guided tour, we visited several of the spots highlighted in that film and also spent a few hours on our own strolling and shopping along the Getreidegasse, a delightful street filled with quaint and unique shops. We were able to get some great photos standing in front of Mozart’s childhood home located right in the middle of the Getreidegasse. Of course we couldn’t leave without buying that most typical of tourist treats, Mozartkugeln, a dark chocolate nougat surrounding a marzipan center. Delicious! Be sure you get yours at the original shop on the Getreidegasse. It was a beautiful, clear day of about 80°F, and some of our fellow travelers chose to have lunch in one of the many popular restaurants around the main street; for my money though, nothing beat that glass of cold beer and tasty bratwurst in the central square. My wife enjoyed eating outside with the locals, too, because it made us feel as though we were an integral part of the scene.

The next few days of the trip were spent floating downriver towards Budapest. Each day revealed seemingly endless beautiful sights along the river especially when we got to the lush, vineyard-rich Wachau Valley, the heart and soul of Austria’s wine producing regions. I was thankful we had a digital camera as I must have taken 500 shots of this incredible area — words just cannot describe the beauty we found around every bend of the Danube. [By the way, the itinerary we took was Uniworld's “Enchanting Danube.” My wife loved it and so did I! CLICK HERE to view all Danube River sailings and offers.]   

 

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