During our first full day in Budapest, we enjoyed the half day included city tour which was a combination bus and walking tour. The tour included quick visits or drive bys of Budapest’s major sights. 

These included Hero’s Square pictured above and below which was one of the many improvements created for the 1896 centennial celebrations. 

We also visited Castle Hill on the Buda side:

  1.     After returning to the ship, the four of us walked from the ship along the river to the Parliment. About halfway there we reached the Shoes Memorial which remembers Jewish people who were told to remove their shoes and then were shot and their bodies fell into the river.The Parliment was also built for the centennial. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

First one without mine has been harder than I expected…so didn’t fulfill my plan to finish up the trip report and put together my thoughts on Viking and the river boat experience….but I will soon. 

Moms out there enjoy your day…children make sure that they do!


Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and is dominated by its castle pictured above. Unfortunately it was pretty much destroyed in a war (sorry can’t remember if it was WWII or another) so what you see is all new.  The old part of town was charming  though a bit over touristy.  Bratislava is apparently the capital that located closest to two other countries.  From the castle one can see Austria and Hungary. 

The highlight of our very early and very quick tour was our guide who spoke emotionally about her life as a girl under the communist regime and the wonder later after the fall of communism to be able to finally walk across the border to Austria which she had grew up seeing but had never been able to visit. She relates that she and her high school chum spent a whole afternoon just going back and forth from Slovakia to Austria….because they could.  

The house above is the 2nd narrow list house in Europe.  

That’s a cannonball imbedded in a house above. Apparently after an attack the city government allowed tax relief for any houses damaged …the story goes that the cannon ball above made a 180 degree turn in order to be where it ended up….apparently cheating on your taxes is nothing new!


Vienna was one of the two large cities we visited and just like the small towns we only got a taste…but at least here we REALLY got a taste!  More on that in a minute, first some city pictures. 

After the included (or as I like to call them “prepaid”) city tour which was half bus/half walking, we returned to the ship for a quick lunch and then took the optional complimentary (prepaid too i guess!) market tour led by Viking’s chef and concierge. We did this via the subway system which is expansive, clean and easy to navigate….however given the looks on some of the Mrs Thurston Howell’s on the tour, it may have been a new experience for some.   

The market is about four blocks long and a block or so wide. The width block is divided into three sections of buildings -some permanent some appear more temporary with two relatively narrow open air sidewalks in between. 

We had been led to believe via the Viking YouTube videos that the Chef actually purchased food for the ship..ah, no. But the concierge did arrange two stops for us to taste along the way.  The first was mostly middle eastern while the second was all Austrian including (say it with me) Gruner Veltliner (as an FYI, I always though I was drinking “grooner-velt-line – er” but in fact it is pronounced grooner velt leaner”). 

The picture above is of the two cheeses we tasted and that dark mound behind is a delicious “power bar” made by hand pressing ground up dried fruits, nuts and seeds. It was great with the cheese and wine.  

Wachau Valley

So this was the afternoon that we had all been waiting and thinking and planning for….three or four hours of cruising the Danube with little towns and castles all the way.  It lives up to my expectation and I hope some day to go back and spend time in some of those towns. Would make a great long weekend road (or for you more athletically inclined bike) trip. 

We ended the day with a few hours in Durnstein. This town’s claim to fame is that it’s castle was used to imprision Richard the Lion Hearted after he and the Holy Roman Emperor had a fight on their return from a crusade.

Like the rest of the valley Durnstein exists today as a wine making town and we enjoyed some along with some brandy made from the other chief harvest, apricots.  I was introduced to the native wine Gruner Veltliner a number of years ago at our favorite Raleigh restaurant- 18 Seaboard.  It is now the Burton-Clayton’s house white  it was great to have some in it terroir.