Fri-Sat May 21/22, 2010

Having just spent   two days in two capitals of two European countries, and knowing that we’ll spend tomorrow in a third, this is probably a good point at which to warn you: don’t bother coming to this part of the world if you can’t stand castles, hate cathedrals, and have been known to die of boredom in medieval old towns. Because that’s mostly what you get to see on a river-cruise like this through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Yesterday was a BIGGIE! Leaving the Amadeus Elegant safely parked in the Danube Canal, we started with a Vienna sightseeing tour that took us along the majestic Ringstrasse, through the Schwarzenbergplatz, past Charles Church (Karlskirche) and the stunning Opera House – ending up at the awe-inspiring St Stephens Cathedral. Oh, plus time to stroll along Kärtnerstrasse and sample Vienna’s famous pastries!

Then, in the afternoon, we were up-and-off to the Schönbrunn Castle, one of Vienna’s most gorgeous buildings and a World Heritage Site – centre of courtly and political life under the reign of Empress Maria Theresia (who died in 1780).

And, as if that wasn’t enough for one day, we all got dressed up in our finery and headed out after dinner to a marvellous ‘Sound of Vienna’ show at one of the city’s countless concert chambers. There we were treated to a charming, cultured evening of classical Viennese waltzes, polkas, arias and operettas – “a living firework display for all senses” – by musicians, opera singers and ballet dancers.

Fantastic? Oh yes! And an unforgettable evening, for sure …

Sometime during the night our ship must’ve left Austria and entered Slovakia (used to be part of Czechoslovakia, now an independent sovereign state) – because we ate breakfast this morning in Bratislava. Unlike neat-as-a-pin Germany and sparkling Austria, this one time communist state looks a bit tired and beat-up, but that didn’t stop us enjoying a tour of the city’s major sights, including some take-your-breath-away views from the 13th-century Bratislava Castle.

This afternoon, some of our Kiwis roamed Bratislava on their own – while others of us visited Schloss Hof, an Imperial Festival Palace built in the 18th century by the ruling Hapsburgs.

Then, tonight, our second-to-last evening on the Amadeus Elegant, we attended the Captain’s Gala Dinner – prior to casting off and cruising along the Danube Canal, Bratislava’s magnificent castle looming high and all-lit-up above us …   

PEOPLE NEWS: Another one bites the dust …

* Jean wins the ‘Happy Hour’ Award for showing younger travellers how to do it by engaging in some late-night partying with some Scottish folk on board!

TOMORROW: We reach out final port-of-call – beautiful Budapest in Hungary

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on ‘COMMENTS’ (or ‘NO COMMENTS’) beside the title for the day’s blog, and type away! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief. And if you want a better look at our map and photos, just click on them and they’ll enlarge –  magic!

This entry was posted in 2010 Danube & Rhine by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

4 thoughts on “VIENNA & BRATISLAVA

  1. To Murray & Joy Jenkins :- Hi guys, happy birthday for yesterday Murray. No doubt you both celebrated accordingly ! Trip looks exciting and great scenery etc. I see Anne & Bill filled you in on heavy rain to come over here. We all fine. Be in touch later. Shorty & Jude xx

  2. Lorraine Adams, The history, the castles my kinda thing!! Got yr postcards today awesome. Enjoy
    Luv Loll and CO

  3. Elaine & Bill & Hilary
    It has been just fantastic being able to follow your journey. You have experienced just so much.
    Hope the rest of your journey is as successful.
    Love Brenda & Graeme

  4. Hi (Mum), Glad you are having a good time. It has been extremely wet here at the moment, especially in the South near Graham and Kirsten. Now they are experiencing snow. Love you Lainey

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