Munich, Danube River Cruise & Prague Sojourn
Flew across the big pond to meet a Munich gal I connected with on last fall’s
Canadian cruise. Flying Lufthansa in steerage was so pleasant. I have long felt that American airlines could take a few tips from the European ones.
She had arranged for a hotel 2 blocks from her apartment. Getting there with 2 subways was pretty easy as Munich uses color and numbers. Unlike NYC, the trains are really clean and have fabric unstained seating. I had early check-in and managed to get some much needed coffee before going to the room. Interesting that the hotel (www.motel-one.com - 4 of them in Munich) while quite modern in decor & offering free wifi did not have
telephones in the rooms.
For two days I meandered around town taking a free tour thru www.neweuropetours.eu. (tip the guide at the end). The large group met at Mary's column in Marienplatz by the New Town Hall and hit a few churches, National Theater & Opera House & The Hofbrauhaus. One balmy nite we went to a true German beer garden where I dined on excellent headcheese & German potato salad. One can bring their own food but must purchase beer although most folks were smoking (annoying when eating) and imbibing.
We trained to Passau to pick up our 5-day cruise, booked thru Phoenix Cruises.
Interesting that in their system, one can wait by the train and pick up 4 other passengers to buy a group ticket of 5 thus avoiding a higher fee. We joined 3 others waiting for someone to show up.
After 2 hrs we arrived in this little town w/interesting shops & right by the river.
I knew this was a econo cruise w/German guests, all announcements & tours in
German as was the daily menus. All the cabins were bunk beds some w/couches
& since ours was too small, we (er, I) finessed an upgrade to a larger cabin although quite stark w/a couch it was serviceable. I did mention this was an econo cruise didn't I?
The crew was Bulgarian including the chef. Fabulous breakfast buffet but lunch and dinner were 4-courses; some tasty, others not so much. Most evening entertainment, typical of riverboat cruises was music save for one nite with a crew variety show that was very entertaining.
Vienna - Took the ship's tour seating myself on the bus by a fellow who spoke
English who interpreted sights for me. We covered the Parlament, Vienna Opera House,St. Stephen's church with the Pummerin bell and stopped at the
Hundertwasser House which has uneven floors and no straight lines. Then,
we trooped into the Hundertwasser Museum with kiosks showing many
tchotchkes. Interment rain which did not help the day but wasn't inspired by Vienna which surprised me.
Budapest Coming up the river one must have a swivel neck as each bank has
rows of fabulous-looking buildings. Galpal and I walked to our free tour and
stopped a few times due to rain. We covered Parliament, Saint Stephen's
Basilica, walked across the bridge from Buda to Pest to the Royal Castle.
There is a l-o-n-g arduous climb up...should have taken the Funicular
Railway! No one lives in the Castle. Did see the Changing of the Guard
which is only done for show. Shown below is one of the many bridges
that link "Buda" with "Pest".
Durnstein - this was a 5-hour stop allowing folks to take a tour of the countryside.
We opted to walk into the quaint little town and walk around the shops and
many hotels set-up for tourists who come here for a respite.
Bratislava, Slovakia Ship provided a free bus into town as we were docked
further away. A short walk to our tour meeting place which was spearheaded
by a cute young well-spoken gal. The city was cute with clean streets and
we first toured old town and then new town seeing the churches and their
theatre. A pitstop for gelato was grand too.
Prague Disembarking in the rain was not fun but we grabbed a bus and
then after 3 trains (don't ask - best way to get there) we arrived in Prague.
Wow...quite impressive. I learned later from our guide that there are ONLY
a few places to exchange euros that are not a rip-off and the train station
is not one of them....this is called a learning experience I guess.
from the Pavlova metro. Getting around Prague via metro or the tram
on our 3-day pass was easy as they also use colors & numbers.
Our accommodations had a twin-bedded room, kitchen/living area with
another bed with the toilet in a separate room from the tub/shower, sink
room off the foyer. Very large, quiet, clean with wifi and a large
selection at breakfast in the downstairs Macedonian restaurant so we
were very happy campers.
Again, we did another Sandemans tour which met near a
Starbucks- yeah. At the hour the Astronomical clock peeled and figures
danced about. Onto the Jewish section which was quite large and
interesting. While galpal went shopping I opted to walk across the bridge and grab a tram up to huge Prague Castle complex. Beautifully landscaped grounds
precede the entrance. St. Vitus Cathedral with beautiful stained glass
was a sight to behold. Had heard that a good way to sightsee was taking
the same tram #22 back to apt/hotel which was good advice.
Our last night there we located a true Czeck resto so we could dine on
goulash & potato pancakes with Czeck beer...quite tasty altho the pancakes
were the size & thickness of hockey pucks!
We returned to Munich via very modern bus w/passengers mostly seated topside
as lower deck only contained 2 tables & 2 rows of seats with bathroom and
machine-operated snack bar.
And so another sojourn comes to an end but we are plotting the next escapade