October 24th 2017

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Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways

 

Continent: Europe. Country: Germany. City: Munich.

Danube Delights with Emerald Waterways

By Katherine Doyle

I was fortunate to be invited on an 8 day river cruise along the Danube with Emerald Waterways.  I flew from Manchester to Munich and then transferred by coach to join the river cruise ship, Emerald Star, at a place just outside Nuremberg. There was a welcome party on board and then we sailed during the night to Kelheim arriving at 8am the next day. On 9th November we left the ship to visit Weltenburg Abbey and then we went for beer tasting and a boat ride on the Danube Gorge. Our ship picked us up again at Regensburg and then sailed to the city centre where we did a gentle walking tour of Regensburg.  Back on board we had a Captain’s welcome dinner and enjoyed Bavarian music in the lounge.  Our ship then sailed through the night to Passau, arriving at 8am.  After breakfast there was a choice of either visiting Saltzburg or crossing over the border and visiting the UNESCO Heritage centre of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic.  As I had visited Saltzburg several times before, I elected to go on the Cesky Krumlov trip and I am so glad I did – It is an amazing and beautiful place. That evening the ship sailed to Melk arriving at 06.30am.  After breakfast we transferred by coach to Melk Abbey, which is a truly beautiful building and after our visit we returned to the ship for lunch and it then sailed at 1315 hours to Durnstein. We had a free afternoon to explore Durnstein before setting sail at 1945 hours for Vienna, where we arrived at 0200 hours.  After breakfast we had a part coach/ part walking tour of Vienna and were thrilled to watch a rehearsal of the famous Spanish Riding School.  After dinner on the ship we transferred by coach to the Viennese Concert Hall for a stunning concert of Mozart and Strauss music with additional dance performances by two members of the State Ballet Company – it was amazing!

From Vienna we cruised to Bratislava, Slovakia, where we went on an early morning walk round the very pretty centre and then after lunch we met back on board with our tour guide who was about to take us on a home-hosted visit in a local Slovakian Village.  I must confess that I was a little anxious about this trip and not sure that I really wanted to take part, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my travel life. We arrived in a very small Slovakian village with varying size houses on either side of a green.  We were shown to the door of what appeared to be a 3 or 4 bedroom house and we entered into the kitchen area.  The host couple were very charming but could not speak any English and so all communication was through our local guide.  It was conveyed to us that the gentleman had retired from his post with the State where he had been in charge of a large vineyard.  He had been allowed to keep the vineyard and now produced up to 3000 bottles of good quality wine for his family, friends and neighbour’s consumption. He took us outside and behind the house, down the very long garden to a vineyard beyond which seemed to stretch for miles, and he was obviously very proud of this. He then took us to his ‘shed’ where we were to taste the wine. (This shed was built of bricks and mortar and was the size of a medium house) He led us in to an area with lots of seating and a long table and he proceeded to demonstrate three of the year’s best wines, one white, one rose, and one red (in fact it was the first time his vineyard had produced a rose and we were the guinea pigs!) All of the wines were very acceptable.  His lady wife had baked and we were then offered the most exquisite chocolate cake to eat with our wine. Next up his wife came in with some beautifully decorated eggs and it was explained that this was a Slovakian tradition where the contents of the egg were carefully drained through a pin hole and then the shell was painted with colourful dyes and left to dry. Once finished they were ready to be sold as Christmas Tree ornaments.  We were amazed and then horrified when she passed round a plain egg to each person and we were told to decorate our own egg and to be quick as the colour dyes soon dry up. There were some very interesting designs is all I can say!  After that the same lady came round with cute shaped biscuits and an icing decoration bag filled with crème.  She demonstrated how to make a nice pattern on the biscuit and then it was over to us again – I don’t think our biscuits would fetch much at the shops!

All in all, it was a most interesting and enjoyable evening, offering everyone a glimpse into a completely different way of life and local culture.

Our final destination was Budapest in Hungary and after a city tour visiting Buda and Pest, both by bus and on foot, we had free time to discover the beauty of the city and try local attractions like the Ferris wheel which was equivalent to the London Eye.  We had a bird’s eye view of Budapest and the river. That evening we enjoyed a Hungarian Folk Group on board the Emerald Star and then at 2200 hours we went up top for an evening cruise of Budapest where the Captain sailed down one side of the Danube for about a mile or more and then crossed over and sailed back up the other side enabling us to enjoy all the buildings and bridges which were so beautifully lit up at night, most especially the fabulous Parliament Building right opposite our berth.

 

The following morning after breakfast we reluctantly disembarked for our trip home. Sad to leave, but with memories that will last a lifetime!

Keywords: River Cruise, Emerald Star, Danube,