Thanks for worrying!

So this live blogging hasn’t worked out so well….first it was Viking’s lousy Internet and now it’s WordPress on the iPad, it is making it difficult to upload text and pictures so I am giving up until I get home to a computer when I promise to finish.

But for those of you who texted to be sure we are ok since the blog had been empty, we are fine.  Got off the ship yesterday  (Saturday) just after this picture of us  was taken at the Aquavit Terrace after our last lunch under the first bridge crossing the Danube-the Chain Bridge.

We fly home on Tuesday morning and I will try to update this with all our experiences and pictures by the end of the weekend.

Again sorry but I guess I learned my lesson!  Here is a taste  (literally in some cases!) of Budapest so hopefully you will stay tuned….

 Hungarian ladies on their way to St. Stephen’s for church.

  Hero’s Square.

  Hero #1.

  Hero #22.

  Parliament Plaza.

 View of Danube and Buda Castle from Parliment.

 “Little Fishes the Way My Mother Made Them” at Zeller Bistro where we had a great dinner.
 Pork Chop at Zeller Bistro.

Where’s Walt? 4/18/2016

  
I swear I expected to see Minnie and Mickey pop out from around the corner all day today! The town of Cezky Krumlov proves that when Walt Disney set out to recreate Europe in the Middle Ages at Epcot, he and the imagineers did their homework. 

  
This town in the bend of a river was left largely undisturbed during the years of the iron curtain because the communists’ financial focus was not on historic rehabilitation. In the last twenty five years that has changed and the town, starting with its hilltop castle, have been returned to their former glory and a tourist Mecca created.

We began our day with the standard Viking breakfast, though after gorging myself yesterday I tried some restraint and only had a small bowl of musli, a slice of dark bread (with the ship made strawberry balsamic marmalade which unfortunately just tasted like strawberry jelly) and a banana. Unfortunately as when we arrived last night, it was raining but Viking provides HUGE umbrellas on your way out the door.

We had a 1.5 hour bus ride (not completely full so several of us had seats to ourselves). We stopped just before the border for a comfort stop which was also where the highway ended. Apparently the Czech government hasn’t started the continuation of the freeway on their side so Austria hasn’t quite finished theirs. Upon arrival, we started our visit at the uppermost point which was the gardens of the Castle and then made our way down towards the village via the Castle’s five courtyards. We then walked through town while our guide Stephan pointed out some of the highlights. Around noon, we were on our own for until 3pm. 

        
S&Y, Mike & I and Su ( a great lady from Chicago traveling with her mother who stayed aboard today) had lunch in a little pub. We hoped to have the traditional roasted pigs knuckle but unfortunately they were out so we had other traditional dishes. Mike and I shared a bowl of split pea soup, some roasted ribs with delicious mustard and raw shredded horseradish, a bowl of fresh made potato chips (served with Thai chili sauce???) and a spread for the delicious rye bread which the menu said was made of pork cracklings but in reality we think it was just lard. It was served with onions and was very tasty especially with the local beer. 

   
   
After lunch we wandered the town and had their traditional version of fair food. It was dough wrapped around a cylinder, put on a chain driven machine which rotated the cylinder over heat. Once done it was rolled in cinnamon sugar…so so good!

  
We returned uneventfully to the ship and after dinner we went into Linz but as in Salzburg, the bar scene was pretty dead so we returned to the ship well ahead of our departure. 

The four of us sat on the Terrace to watch as the captain turned the ship 180 degrees to head down river. The river at that point was relatively narrow and all of us were sure he was going to bash the dock on the opposite bank but thankfully he did not. 

After that excitement, we retired for the evening.  

As a ps, a year from today those of us aboard and a number of you following the blog will be embarking on Norwegian Gem!

Salzburg to Linz. 4/16/16

We had a relaxing afternoon cruising the Danube after having a light lunch (the late morning strudel ruined my lunch) with lots of included wine, we adjourned to the balcony and watched the beautiful scenery go by.  We went through several locks while not as impressive as the Panama Canal were still interesting to watch work.  Late afternoon, the ship offered a strudel making demonstration with tasting so I of course had to compare!). That led to a nap of course….too much wine and dessert.  Gosh I love vacation!

This evening they had the Captain’s welcome aboard reception, hosted by the captain who actually sits in the chair up on the bridge that you can’t see because of the %&$#@ slow internet and drives the ship.  They offered sparkling, kir royals and mimosas during that and the daily briefing which followed.  For dinner tonight we had very tasty chateaubriand in honor of my Mom – it was her favorite fancy food.

After dinner, a group of three operatic singers and a piano player came aboard (after we had docked in Linz) to perform Austrian favorites including selections from Mozart, folk songs and of course….”sound of Music.” It as a fun time and they had a number of our fellow guests join them “on stage”.

Turns out today was Sam’s birthday but neither Mike and I knew it until late in the day…but I think he had a good day…even without any ship wide celebration!\

Tomorrow we do an included day long tour to Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, it’s a world heritage site and you can learn more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%8Cesk%C3%BD_Krumlov

And we get back to the ship around 5 pm but for some reason, we don’t leave until midnight…again, not what our published itinerary called for…not an issue but if we had of known we were going to be almost overnighting in Linz, we would have planned better.

Again, sorry no pictures, but I intend to update all of these postings if we get better internet or when I get home…..who knew that internet would be so awful.

Night! Hope all of you who have to work this week have a good one….I will be enjoying relazing and drinking prepaid delicious Gruner Veltliner!

 

Passau 4/17/16

  
I am writing this from the middle of RezidentzPlatz the square just outside the cathedral known as the Dom. We just finished our included in the cruise walking tour which took about an hour and a half and was informative and a nice walk, according to the app on my phone just over 2 miles. It is cloudy and sprinkling a little. We were lucky in that when we got back the end of our tour to this Square we happened to hear music and choir so we went inside the church and heard a bit unfortunately on Sundays at this time of year they do not have the usual organ concert. There five organs and something like 323,842 pipes.  
I’m now back on the ship, after we stopped for coffee and strudel on our walk back. I am worried about the diet for sure!  
So far, no real complaints about the Viking experience though some things are a bit incongruous.
The waiters use some sort of smart phone device to take orders but one has to stop at reception to ask for a paper card when you leave the ship and turn it back in when you return so they know you’re back on board. So rather than on a sea cruise where your key card not only opens your door and is the security device on and off the ship and is what you pay for drinks with, here they use paper forms for drinks. Very strange. 
Second, the published itinerary never listed specific times instead saying “in the afternoon” or “after dinner” when listing departures or excursions. That grated on the planner in me since it made it difficult to figure out what to do for our free time. This is particularly so since based on the “program director’s” talk last evening, they have it pretty well timed for the whole week. But the real kicker is that we apparently are not even following what we were told. Mike had our afternoon here in Passau planned since we weren’t supposed to leave “late afternoon” but turns out we depart at lunch????
But I am looking forward to an afternoon of river cruising this afternoon. 

Viking Njord 4/16/16

 

    

  

  

  Arrived and although we weren’t the first aboardthe ship 

it seemed empty but part of that is only 200 people.  
Our room seems about the same as ocean liners. The balcony is narrower than I am used to but I suspect it is like the newer ships that folks complain about. The bathroom seems a little smaller also but is pretty interesting in that all the walls are frosted glass- though with the flick of a switch you can make the glass clear. Not sure why Viking spent the money for this feature but it’s cool. Though the glass is problematic at night as there isn’t a dim light. Not to future Viking cruisers, bring along a note light 
After an introductory session with the Program Director, we had a nice dinner. The crab and tuna tartar Neapolitan what’s the highlight but the char was also tasty. 
After dinner Mike and I thought about going into town, but ended up going back to the cabin where I went to bed and he apparently watched Sound of Music!

Salzburg to Passau. 4/16/16

  
Salzburg to Passau. 4/16/18
Had an uneventful 3 hour train trip from Salzburf to Passau where our ship was waiting. 
We were entertained during the last bit of the train ride by a Batchelor party group. Apparently the tradition is for the Batchelor to sell shots to help pay for the party and in at least this case to wear pants which had been taken apart to allow him to be whipped and to have blocks attached to his foot…I guess the German version of a ball and chain?

Salzburg 4/15/16

  Salzburg 4/15/16
Sam was in charge of our Salzburg day and decided that taking the Hop on hop off bus would be the best way for us to see the town in our limited time…and he was right. We boarded at our hotel ( the benefits of a hotel at the railroad station!) and rode the entire tour stopping at the last stop which was the closest to the fortress overlooking the town. 

  
Before we took the funicular up we stopped for a coffee/hot chocolate at a cafe. I love the fact that they set out blankets!

  

  

  

  

  

  
   
The fortress is well maintained and the exhibits most informative. While up there we had a light lunch since the breakfast at the hotel had been so filling. 
After the fortress we walked into the older part of town and enjoyed a quick stroll through the gardens where Maria and the children danced and sang “do re mi” before catching a city tram (included in the HoHo) back to the hotel. 
After a nap (it’s vacation and we were getting over our jet lag!) we went to a local bar for a beer before going to an ancient brewery for a delicious but way too filling dinner.