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Cruising the Danube, Main & Rhine Rivers

Day 1 –   Welcome to Budapest Highlights

Your journey into wonder begins here. Relax and raise your glass at an
evening’s welcome reception and before we embark on a night cruise on the Danube in Budapest.

The building of Hungary’s law-making body, the House of Parliament, is rightly considered among the most beautiful parliament buildings in the world. Selected as a World Heritage site and can be best seen by cruising the Danube.
The impressive building that was erected over a period of seventeen years, primarily in the late nineteenth century (1885–1902), has come to be the symbol of Hungary and the capital.

Photographed on a night cruise in Budapest on the Danube River. Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. It was first completed in 1265, but the massive Baroque palace today occupying most of the site was built between 1749 and 1769.

The 17th FINA World Championships were held in Budapest, Hungary from 14 to 30 July 2017. Budapest, Hungary hosted 182 Nations
Venue(s): Danube Arena, Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Stadium, Lake Balaton

The Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) is a prestigious higher education institution in Hungary. Its main mission is to educate professionals for the industry in the disciplines of technology, informatics, natural sciences, economics, business and management.
Photographed from the Danube River which separates Old Budapest from the newer part of the city.

Day 2 –   Budapest Highlights:

Make the most of Budapest with a guided tour of this city.

Hungarian born, Sonja Cauker, was our tour guide at the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest is one of the top Budapest attractions without a doubt. The present day lovely lookout towers / decorative fortification of Fisherman’s Bastion were built in the 19th century to serve as a lookout tower for the best panoramic views in Budapest, Hungary. Needless to say, there used to be real castle walls where now you can take fantastic photos from.

Matthias Church
In 1867, Franz Joseph I of Hungary was crowned in this 14th-century church, thus marking the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In addition to being the site of such an important historical event, Matthias Church is an incredibly beautiful monument with a rich and fascinating history—it was even a mosque at one point! It was built in typical Gothic style and incorporates beautiful ceramic tiles from the renowned Zsolnay factory. Inside, there is an underground gallery containing relics, medieval stone carvings and replicas of the Hungarian crown and coronation jewels.

After the Piano and Organ Concert by F. Litszt, Dianne had a photo taken and purchased an autographed CD by the performer.

Statues of Kings & Heroes
From left to right on the photo below you can see:
King St. Stephen – Hungary’s first king, founder of the Hungarian state
St. László– a noble and strict king, several miracles are attributed to him
Kálmán Könyves King Coloman de Beaiclerc-annexed Croatia and Dalmatia to Hungary
András II – participated in the Crusades
King Béla IV – rebuilt the country after the Mongol invade in the 13th century
Charles Robert – created a strong and wealthy Hungary in the first half of the 14th century
I Nagy Lajos (Luis the Great)-son of Charles Robert, during his reign Hungary reached the greatest expansion of its territory
King Matthias – a Renaissance King who made Buda Europe’s cultural centre in the 15th century, Matthias Church in Buda castle is name dafter him.
István Bocskai– as a result of his fight against the Habsburg reign Transylvania became independent in 1606
Gábor Bethlen – prince of Transylvania in the 17th century, leader of an anti-Habsburg uprising
Imre Thököly – leader of Hungarian Protestants against the Habsburg rule
Ferenc Rákóczi- leader of the War of Independence against the Habsburgs in the 18th century
Lajos Kossuth – great patriot and statesman, leader of the
1848/49 War of Independence

Heroes’ Square …. and the nearly 40 m high column with a statue on the top draw the eye.
The imposing open plaza is one of the most emblematic and photographed sights of Budapest.
The memorial won the first prize at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. The monument was completely finished in 1929 and the square received its name then too.
Since 2002 the Millennium Monument together with Adrasy Avenue is part of UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage Sites.
The 36 m high Corinthian column dominates the square with Archangel Gabriel on its top holding St. Stephen’s Crown.
According to the story, Gabriel appeared to St. Stephen in his dream and offered him the crown of Hungary.
The equestrian statues of the seven Magyar (Hungarian) tribes’ chieftains encircle the column.
The seven tribes lead by Árpád arrived first in the Carpathian Basin around 896 AD to find out whether the area was suitable for settling down.
Symbolic figures on Top of the Corner Pillars:
Work and Welfare
Knowledge and Glory

Day 3 –    Vienna Highlights:

The Day spent mostly cruising.
Cruise the mighty Danube, relax in one of the lounges and viewing areas and the scenery as your Scenic Space‐Ship sails towards the majestic city of Vienna.

A Private Viennese 2 hour concert

Breathe in the opulence and luxury of Palais Liechtenstein
while enjoying a glass of fine Austrian Sekt.

Then be enthralled by an enchanting private Viennese evening concert
featuring the timeless music of Strauss and Mozart.

Day 4 –   Vienna Highlights:

A guided tour of Bratislava
One of the village squares and our lovely and knowledgeable Slovakian born tour guide.

Bratislava Castle
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is set along the Danube River by the border with Austria and Hungary. It’s surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains, crisscrossed with forested hiking and cycling trails. The pedestrian-only, 18th-century old town is known for its lively bars and cafes. Perched atop a hill, the reconstructed Bratislava Castle overlooks old town and the Danube.

Day 5 – Dürnstein > Melk Highlights: Sundowners in Wachau Valley

Cruise the river to Dürnstein

Photographed early one morning just before docking at Dürnstein, a small town on the Danube river, in the Austrian state of Lower Austria. It is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the Wachau region and also a well-known wine growing area.

Early morning in a small Austrian Village that oozes plenty of History, Dürnstein, a small town on the Danube River.

Leaving Dürnstein and cruising the Danube River to Melk

Dürnstein’s famous blue church spire

Situated among Austria’s most famous vines, Dürnstein, known as the “Pearl of the Wachau” is not only one of the country’s most beautiful small towns, but also boasts some of its most storied history. The blue baroque church spire that greets visitors from either direction is quite exceptional. The town gained its name from the medieval castle Burgruine Dürnstein, which overlooked it.

The Village of Melk and Melk’s magnificent 18th century Benedictine Abbey

Day 6 – Salzburg Region and the Austrian Alps.

The Wonder of The Sound of Music

According to the legend Duke Odilo went hunting in the Mondsee area with his wife an a large entourage. He unfortunately lost his way and nightfall quickly set in. High up on rocky terrain above the Mondsee he was in great danger and almost fell off the cliffs. The full moon then suddenly appeared from behind the clouds and the duke was able to see the surface of the lake down before him. He was so greatful for being rescued in this way that he vowed to build an abbey on the banks of the lake, which he named the moon lake (in German: Mondsee).

It amazed me how picture-postcard perfect the Austrian countryside really is, with its immaculate farmhouses and flower boxes oozing with colour. In this photo the sunlit countryside slopes down to beautiful lake Mondsee with the Dragon Wall in the background.

One of our most delightful stops during our trip was in the Austrian Alps and the quaint little villiage of Mondsee, Austria – where the wedding of Maria and Captain Von Trapp took place in the world-famous musical, The Sound of Music.

The basilica Mondsee reached international fame because the wedding scene in the movie “Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer was filmed inside. This is the reason why more than 200.000 people are visiting the church every year and therefore is one of the most photographed churches all over the world. Pope John Paul II upgraded the church to a basilica in 2005. In 2009 the church was reopened after a huge restauration which ended in the title “Austria’s monument of the year”.

Let the ‘Best of The Sound of Music and Salzburg Show’ transport you to
another time and place. Based on the timeless movie of the same name, this exclusive production is performed
in the rolling hills of Salzburg and will wow you with its stage sets.
Enjoy an authentic Austrian lunch and then hum along to the show’s catchy classics.

Day 7 ‐  Regensburg
At the confluence of three rivers, Regensburg offers a rich tapestry of
experiences, from its medieval Old Town to the Bavarian Forest on its border.
Regensburg is Bavaria’s 4th largest city with 150,000 inhabitants and is located on the most northern point of the river Danube. As the best preserved medieval city in Germany, Regensburg presents a perfect combination of an inviting skyline, impressive historic monuments and legendary Bavarian hospitality. The old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof became UNESCO World Heritage in July 2006.

Waiting for my wife on a cobblestone street outside a shop in Regensburg while she purchased a dress. Long Wait!

Cruising Danube Gorge

Day 8 ‐   Nuremberg Highlights: WWII history
Welcome to this fascinating and ancient Bavarian city, dating back to the 11th century.
Visit moving WWII sites, or join the Tastes of Nuremberg food tour.

Nuremberg, a city in northern Bavaria, is distinguished by medieval architecture such as the fortifications and stone towers of its Altstadt (Old Town). At the northern edge of the Altstadt, surrounded by red-roofed buildings, stands Kaiserburg Castle. The Hauptmarkt (central square) contains the Schöner Brunnen, the gilded “beautiful fountain” with tiers of figures, and Frauenkirche, a 14th-century Gothic church.

Day 9 ‐ Bamberg Highlights: Old Town
Immerse yourself in the World Heritage‐listed old town of Bamberg, alive with history and walk the same cobbled streets as medieval traders.

Endowed with one of Europe’s largest intact old town centres, Bamberg has the magic of the past hanging in the air, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. Today, Bamberg is a lively arts and cultural centre with a thousand year old history, a long tradition of beer brewing and the buzzing atmosphere of a city full of life and street cafés and small antiques shops.

Day 10 ‐ Würzburg Highlights:

Visit the Bishop’s Residenz Palace and sample some exquisite local wine, or explore the
famous Romantic Road – an important trade route during the Middle Ages.
Then take in the beautiful walled town of Rothenburg, a medieval gem that overlooks the
Tauber River.

The picturesque village of Romantic Rothenburg, in Germany.

In the Middle Ages, Rothenburg was Germany’s second-largest city, with a whopping population of 6,000. Today, it’s the country’s most exciting medieval town, enjoying tremendous popularity with tourists without losing its charm. There’s a thousand years of history packed between its cobblestones.

Cruising the Rhine River

Gutenfels Castle
Have you heard of “Castles on the Rhine” and the best way to see them is on a cruise down the Rhine River. This is called the “Middle Rhine” and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason – some 40 castles once stood along this valley,
The 65km-stretch of the Middle Rhine Valley, with its castles, historic towns and vineyards, graphically illustrates the long history of human involvement with a dramatic and varied natural landscape. It is intimately associated with history and legend and for centuries has exercised a powerful influence on writers, artists and composers.
This castle, primarily owned (since 1257) by the Falkenstein family, is one of the most important examples of the Hohenstaufen military and house construction style at the Rhine.
Since 1277 it has been a castle of the Electorate of Palatinate. After an unsuccessful siege in 1504 by landgrave Wilhelm from Hessen, the castle was renamed Gutenfels (solid rock).
Rebuilt between 1889 and 1892 it is now used as a hotel.

Katz Castle (German: Burg Katz) is a castle above the German town of St. Goarshausen in Rhineland-Palatinate. This magnificent castle stands on a ledge looking downstream from the riverside at St. Goar. It was first built around 1371 by Count Wilhelm II of Katzenelnbogen. The castle was bombarded in 1806 by Napoleon and rebuilt in the late 19th century, between 1896-98. It is now privately owned, and not open for visitors.

“The Lorelei” – is a 132 m high, steep slate rock on the right bank of the River Rhine in the Rhine Gorge at Sankt Goarshausen in Germany.
The legend involves a young woman, Loreley, with long blond hair and a beautiful voice. One version describes Loreley as a mermaid who fell in love with a human and thus came ashore from the Rhine in the form of a farmer’s daughter; another claims she was a sorceress from the nearby village of Bacharach. In either case, she fell in love with a young man who did not love her back, and thereafter sat on a rock overlooking the river, serenading it with sad songs. The beauty of both her voice and appearance was so enchanting that she caused distracted sailors to break their ships on the rocks and drown.
The Loreley Statue was installed in 1983. Shipwrecks still occur at the dangerous curve, the most recent on January 13, 2011, when a tanker ship loaded with 2,400 tons sulfuric acid capsized. Thus, legends persist that the ghost of Loreley still appears—singing, combing her hair, and leading sailors to their deaths in the watery grave at the bottom of the Rhine.

Day 11 ‐ Freudenberg > Tastes of ‘Oktoberfest’ and Highlights

In Freudenberg you’ll get the chance to celebrate the Scenic version of ‘Oktoberfest’,Germany’s famously fun festival. Look forward to joyous oom‐pah‐pah music, festive blue flags
and an abundance of fine beer. It’s also a great opportunity to meet the locals,see some regional arts and crafts, and indulge in a Bavarian lunch with large servings of good humour and revelry.

The Village of Freudenberg.

Day  12 ‐  Rüdesheim > Rhine Gorge > Marksburg Castle Highlights

Immerse yourself in charming Rüdesheim and board the Winzerexpress mini train for a
guided visit of Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum.

Delight in the medieval ambience at Marksburg Castle, which has remained virtually
unchanged since the Middle Ages. You’ll get the opportunity to partake in a magnificent
medieval feast, with an abundance of fine fare and quantities of free flowing local red
wine. The Marksburg is a castle above the town of Braubach in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
It is one of the principal sites of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress
was used for protection rather than as a residence for royal families. It has a striking example
of a bergfried designed as a butter-churn tower.
Day 13 ‐  Cologne, Germany

Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets of Cologne.
Cologne is the largest city in the German federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth populated city in Germany. It is located within the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region which is Germany’s largest and one of Europe’s major metropolitan areas.

The magnificent Cologne Cathedral hovers above the roofs and chimneys of the city of Cologne, Germany. It is not only used as a point of orientation but is the pride of the people in Cologne. The foundation stone of the Gothic Cathedral was laid on 15 August 1248 on the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is nothing short of a miracle that, although badly damaged, Cologne Cathedral survived the Second World War in spite of extensive bombing. Nowadays the main factors affecting the Cathedral are weather and environmental influences. Over 80 stonemasons, glaziers, roofers and other specialists are constantly at work on the maintenance and restoration of the Cathedral building.

Day 14 ‐ Amsterdam Highlights

The Anne Frank House is a writer’s house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. The building is located on a canal called the Prinsengracht, close to the Westerkerk, in central Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Day 15
Cruise Tour Ends in Amsterdam Netherlands

Amsterdam is the end of our cruise, but the beginning of a lifetime of wonderful memories.

After the cruise Dianne & I spent a week in Amsterdam visiting friends and we managed to get to Delft, a town in the Netherlands, in the province of South Holland.

Delft is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is located in the province of South Holland, to the north of Rotterdam and south of The Hague. Delft is known for its historic town centre with canals, Delft Blue pottery, the Delft University of Technology, jurist Hugo Grotius, painter Johannes Vermeer and scientist Antony van Leeuwenhoek, and its association with the royal House of Orange-Nassau.

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