Buda & Pest

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We finally reached Budapest, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities — much larger than I expected. It was once two cities, Buda and Pest, on opposite sides of the river, but was combined into one city. Hungary has not won a war since the Ottoman Empire, but has nevertheless survived and developed into a stunning city. The architecture of the buildings was, without a doubt, the most exquisite of any city we saw. Especially spectacular was the Parliament Building, one of many amazing sights.

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The most gorgeous scene of all was the way the city lights up at night. All the building and antique architecture have flood lights that show them off in a spectacular way and are reflected in the river. The numerous bridges from one side of the city to the other also have lights. All in all, it is like a fairyland, most impressive. I was mesmerized by the spectacular light show as the boat cruised up and down the waterfront at night. It was a perfect ending to the cruise.

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Just Cruising

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We did not take the expensive optional tour of Salzburg the home of Mozart. The people who went thought it was like a fair-tale village. I hated to miss it, but it was all day long — more walking than I could possibly do.

I slept until 10:00 a.m. as I was so exhausted and only woke up once because the ship was vibrating. I don’t know what that was all about. We were probably going through a lock. There are so many locks on this river that I lost count.

I missed breakfast entirely as I slept right through it. Lunch will be at noon. There is a light lunch in the lounge or a regular lunch in the dining room. Decisions, decisions. Actually, it was the same food, only a buffet in one place and table service in the other.

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I was enjoying the beautiful scenery from the boat. Meanwhile, back in the cabin, my partner blew out his currency converter, the thing that changes 230 electricity into 110 so American appliances can use it. He borrowed one from another passenger and blew it out too. I don’t know what he is doing. Anyhow, I am sharing mine with him. Hope he doesn’t blow it out.

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He can’t seem to keep the batteries going on his huge camera and fiddled with it through the entire tour yesterday. I don’t know why he doesn’t just take pictures with his cell phone. I have been using my cell as it is smaller and easy to carry. I will use my regular camera, when we take the night cruise as it can take pictures at night and the cell phone cannot.

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While we had a free day, I decided to get a massage. The massage was not exactly like others I’ve had, but still very relaxing. The odd thing was the masseuse did not leave the room while I undressed. I guess Americans are more prudish about such things than Europeans. I left my undies on and grabbed the sheet to cover up as fast as I could.

The boat made a short stop in Linz and we could go exploring on our own. But it rained and was very cloudy and nasty, so most people did not try to shop. There will be other opportunities. Most things are closed on Sunday in Germany anyhow. We enjoyed the lights of Linz that night and took some pictures. After dinner we went to the lounge for the first time as we have always been too tired before. They had a piano player and singer so, we relaxed and enjoyed the entertainment and dancing.

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Up again at 5 a.m. tomorrow for a 6 a.m. departure tour of Vienna. Rumor had it that some people were so mad about the disorganization that they called Premier Travel. We were supposed to get free beer and all-day coffee to make up for it, but nothing can really make it up.  I told the tour director that I liked the Turtle Group and he promised to do it again tomorrow. They are also having two dinner servings — one for people going to an optional concert in Vienna and one for everyone else. Sounds good.

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This museum building changed colors: pink, blue and green.

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Passau, Germany

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We boarded the riverboat named MS Amadeus Queen. It was a brand new floating hotel that holds 162 passengers. It was clean and luxurious, had a large restaurant on one floor and a bar on another. There were large windows to take advantage of the views.

I was surprised to find that the Danube River is not blue at all. The river is actually green and was said to be shallow enough to walk across. I had high hope that things were going to get better. But, next day was yet another day of disaster.

We went to the little village of Passau, one of Germany’s oldest cities with a history dating back 2,000 years. It had primarily two major things to see: St. Mark’s Cathedral and another large pink-steeple church with a clock and bell tower. Unfortunately, the streets were all very rough cobblestones.  I could not walk on them and had hard time trying not to fall.

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Our local guide was a Chinese-American guy with a soft voice. We could not hear what he was saying about half the time. Upon request, he did walk slower at first and only ran off and left me once. He totally blew the walking tour at the end, though, by giving his big ending speech at noon while every bell in town was tolling and echoing through the streets.

Geez, anyone with any sense would know to wait until the noise stops and then talk. I raised my hand and said, “We can’t hear you,” but I guess he couldn’t hear me either with all the commotion. If he worked for me, I would fire him. We also had not been able to hear the local guide in Munich when not on the bus. The problems were getting as old as Passau.

After that was over, we had free time or time “at your own pace” as they called it. The tour herd went charging off to a restaurant recommended by the guide, who by coincidence, was in the restaurant business. I had eaten a large breakfast on the boat and was not hungry, so we decided to take our time getting down the mountain and back to the bus. I had already tripped at least 3 times during the tour and only kept from falling by holding onto Morris’ arm.

Back at the river, we saw an ad for cuckoo clocks. I really wanted a Black Forest German Cuckoo Clock and had looked up various types before we left home. We figured out where the clock shop was, but I did not feel like climbing back up the hill on the cobblestones. I asked Morris if he would go back up there and see what they had. I already knew exactly what I wanted: a cuckoo, music and dancers, a moving woodchopper, and an 8 day movement. He found a clock and bought it on the spot without consulting me again. Fortunately for him, I really liked what he picked out, so I did not have to kill him.

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On the boat that evening, we had assigned tables and sat with two couples we had not met previously. We talked, laughed and had a really good time — the most fun on the trip at that point. Some people came with groups and sat only with people they already knew. I couldn’t help but think it would have been better to break them up and have them sit  with others so they could meet new people.

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(Left) Morris & Sheila – Steve & Glenda (right) – (back) Tammy & Todd

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The Journey Begins

Status

I am going on a river cruise! It had been planned for nearly a year, charges paid, arrangements made. According to the travel brochure from Premier World Discovery, it is “Munich’s Oktoberfest & Danube River Cruise,” featuring 2 nights in a Bavarian Village and 7 nights aboard the Amadeus Queen, a riverboat. We were already planning a trip to Germany when the brochure was posted at the local senior center. Perfect! They were marketing to an older population, so it would be less strenuous and easier for me to keep up with the group. I forgot about the other trips we had been looking at with AAA and signed on the dotted line.