At Christmas my parents found themselves in the unusual situation of all three of their children – me, my brother and sister – not spending the holidays with them. We were all with our in-laws. So rather than mope around at home missing us (!) they booked a cruise on the Danube, for the whole of the festive period. I must say, despite sometimes mocking the idea of a river cruise, I was rather jealous. Having been to Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest earlier last year I knew that they’d be visiting wonderful places and the idea of being waited on, no cooking, no chores etc for 2 full weeks while watching the world pass by sounded very appealing.
It is from my globe-trotting parents that I inherited my love of travel. They (a Brit and an Aussie) met in Ghana and have lived in 9 and 10 countries (dad and mum respectively) and travelled all over the world. Last count my dad had visited over 90 countries (and my mum not far behind) including unusual locations such as Bhutan, Honduras, Democratic Republic of Congo, Greenland and Angola. (I could go on…) Now in their mid seventies they may no longer choose West Africa or Central America for their holidays but they haven’t slowed down at all…they’re off again next month to Florence….
So with this in mind, and knowing they are loyal readers of this blog, I asked if they’d write a few words each about their cruise. And here’s what they had to say…
…over to Catherine
Inspired by Phoebe’s excellent blog posts I thought I might write, as an older person, about one of my recent travels.
I have done a little bit of ocean cruising in my time and each time I say never again. But it is all change now. I have just been cruising up and down the Danube and I loved it. We set sail from Vienna and went up river to Melk and back down river again to Budapest where we spent three days before returning to Vienna.
Our cruise was a Christmas New Year cruise and most of the other passengers were like us, doing their own thing while their families were too.
We were on the go all day being bussed to look at amazing abbeys, monasteries, pretty towns and villages and always returning to our wonderfully comfortable ship where we were superbly looked after. We moved mostly at night but daytime cruising was very relaxing as we sat and enjoyed the scenery. Being on a river it was always very smooth, gliding and going through locks was interesting. I think we did 15 locks.
We saw many lovely Christmas markets and cities. And towns lit up for Christmas and the new year fireworks in Vienna seen from the river were spectacular. But that’s not all. We had two little concerts on board ship and went to a wonderful concert in Budapest and a New Years concert in Vienna. We could have gone to the opera in Budapest too. So you see for oldies it was a pretty wonderful way to go and I recommend it highly. I did put on 6lbs (2.7kgs), but that will soon go while the memories will stay on.
… and Richard
Catherine and I spent Christmas and New Year on a boat cruising the Danube between Linz in Austria and Budapest, the capital of Hungary. We had never before been on a river cruise, and wondered whether we would find the experience a bit claustrophobic, but in the event we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We saw masses of interesting places and events – cities, abbeys, castles, villages, Christmas markets, New Year fireworks. We were hugely impressed by the quantity and tastefulness of the Christmas decorations in all the towns and cities – all white and not a trace of Disney.
We attended concerts in Vienna and Budapest, where we also went to a stupendous high mass in the cathedral. We spent a day in Budapest’s Jewish quarter, visiting the great synagogue, and the hugely moving museum, Wallenberg memorial and silver willow tree, covered in thousands of leaves each engraved with the names of people who had been killed in Auschwitz and elsewhere.
We basked in spring-like temperatures and sunshine, and then later thought that we would freeze solid, in Budapest and Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. While warming up we ate lots of calorie-filled Central European cakes and sipped a fair amount of gluhwein – or rather, I did. (Catherine doesn’t drink alcohol, sensible lady.) And we both got through our fair share of goulash, wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel.
This was not how we normally spend “the festive season”, and of course we missed seeing all our children and grandchildren. But we kept in touch by modern means – texting and so on. And it was great fun!
… back to me
So what do you think? Would you like to go on a river cruise? Have you been on any type of cruise before? And didn’t we all put on several kilos over Christmas whether on a cruise or not?! I’d love to hear from you