Vantage Cruise Lines 7th Presidents River Cruise
Budapest to Prague
June 14 - 29, 2004
For my first international travel of 2004, I elected to
sail on the Danube River from Budapest to Passau.
The trip ended with a four day stay in Prague. Each year
Vantage Cruise Lines has a President's cruise on the
Danube River. This year's cruise was outstanding in
every way. For me it was doubly pleasant as I was
joined by my California friends from the Normandy
and Seine River cruise of last summer. It was great to
be traveling with the Gerszewski's, Jayaram's
and the Tangedal's.
My trip started with flights from Binghamton to Philadelphia and
then Washington, lastly an over night flight to Frankfurt and
then finally arriving in Budapest late morning. I was anxious to
visit Budapest again due to the fact I was sailing on the Danube River
when 9/11 occurred. Some things had changed while in
general everything else was the same.
The first stop in Budapest was at the Marriott hotel for a rest
and lunch break before boarding the River cruiser.
Budapest is a busy city with lots of people shopping and sightseeing.
Buda Castle dominates the scenery across the Danube River.
The along the River and its surrounding area offer many spots for great photos.
At two p.m. we were bussed to the River Navigator which would
be my home for the next 12 days. It is the same ship I sailed on three years ago.
We were docked on the River for three days in Budapest. On day one,
we were bused to Holloko, a village on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
We were given a tour and had an opportunity to see native homes
and dancing by local residents. The native costumes were very colorful.
The day was completed with a home hosted lunch in one of the homes.
A display of local dancing in the village.
We were docked near the Market Hall which was a wonderful
place to visit and shop. There were fruit stands, meat markets,
bakeries and many places to buy Hungarian souvenirs. You could
also buy a great local beer in the hall.
On the second day in Budapest, I select a tour that took me to
Castle Vajdahunyad, the Royal Palace, Europe's largest synagogue
and lastly a visit to Hero's Square. It was a long morning of touring
and we had the afternoon at leisure. This is a shot of Budapest
and their famous Chain Bridge in the foreground.
Budapest is a beautiful city and there is a great deal to do and see.
Unfortunately two days for sightseeing do not due the city justice.
On day four we sailed at 5 p.m. for Visegrad arriving at 8 p.m.
It was a short sail but we were able to have one last look
at the beautiful sights of Budapest.
This is the Hungarian Parliament building from the Danube River.
Our Day Five stop, we started the morning with a tour of Szentendre,
a village with many churches and shops. They are famous for
garments made with their deep blue dye as shown outside
this small shop. We sailed at 1:00 p.m. to Esztergom on the
other side of the River a short distance from Visegrad. The city of Esztergom
is the capital of Hungarian Catholicism.
Their large cathedral
dominates the view of the city from the River.
It is a beautiful structure with a large organ inside.
We were treated to an organ recital during our visit to the cathedral.
It was a stirring performance of sacred music.
Esztergom Cathedral from the Danube River.
This is a beautiful statue of the Crowning of Saint Stephen
is placed on the bluff overlooking the River next to the
Saint Adalbert Basilica.
We sailed overnight to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
We toured the city with stops at St. Martin's Cathedral, Bratislava Castle
and the Government Palace. This is a shot of the new
Parliament building for the country. We had a walking tour
of the city after our bus tour. We saw the Dom of St. Martin,
the main square and other interesting places.
While visiting the main square, the Slovenian Military Band
played a concert. It was fun to hear American
hit tunes played by a band.
After the military band came a one-man band who was pretty good.
The soldier's clapped loudly for his performance.
There was some neat statutes in the main square.
I am posing with a new found friend who was pretty quiet.
This is a church building with figures painted in windows.
The story goes that the church did not have money to
make repairs and pastor decide to use this window treatment
to protect the building until it can be repaired.
This shot is taken in front of the National Museum of Slovenia.
Time to move up River! Our River cruiser sailed from
Bratislava at 5:00 a.m. bound for Vienna.
We docked at Vienna at 11:00 a.m.
River traffic was plentiful as we sailed up River.
Lots of barges hauling cargo like stone and gravel.
Our first River lock, we will go thought several more
before we leave the River at Passau. Our ship is
waiting for the gates to open so we can sail on to Vienna.
The afternoon was spent in touring Vienna with stops in
the inner city and at St. Stephen's Cathedral. It was a rainy
day that was not great for pictures. This is my fourth visit to Vienna
and to take more pictures of the same scenes was not a high priority.
The next day the sun came out and it was a great day to
tour this beautiful city. No visit to Vienna could be complete
without a stop in the park where Mozart in gold waits to play!
After a strenuous day of sightseeing, I made a stop with traveling
friends at the Sacher Hotel for a snack of one of their
famous Torte's. It was delightful and fattening.
This is a statue found in Albertina Square that remembers the
treatment of the Jewish population during World War II by
the Nazi troops. This man denotes the fact that the Nazi's
made the Jew's clean the streets with tooth brushes.
It is a very moving spot in this popular city.
The monument opposing War and Fascism located in the Albertina Square.
The River Navigator docked at Vienna.
The evening of our second night in Vienna, we had Gala-Night dinner
and concert at the Palais Ferstel in downtown Vienna. The music was
by the Wiener Residenzorchester with included dancing into the evening.
It was a wonderful affair with a well served delicious meal. This is a
photo of the reunion group of California friends I was traveling with.
On our last day in Vienna, we had a morning trip to the Vienna Woods.
We bussed through the town of Baden with its many spas and hot bathes.
The Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz in the Vienna Woods was
our first stop to the morning. Our tour took us through the
beautiful Helenental region of Austria.
This is a beautiful statue found in the courtyard of the Abbey.
It was a most beautiful spot to visit.
Our second stop on tour of Vienna Woods was at the Mayerling.
This is the hunting lodge of Crown Prince Rudolf who committed
suicide after shooting his 17 year old lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera.
After their deaths the hunting lodge was turned over to the nuns
and the room where the tragedy occurred is now a chapel. Today the
site has a very pretty church that is now a strict Carmelite Convent.
Our last stop before returning to the ship was in the village of
Gumpoldskirchen to visit a local winery. The wine sampling
was very good and it was a good rest stop during a busy morning.
This picture is of the local church in this community.
It is time to continuing to sail up River. Our River cruiser left Vienna at 1:00 p.m.
We had a pleasant afternoon on board with sightseeing
along the River the order of the afternoon.
Heading for another lock!
Low bridges ahead so the cabin on deck is folded down to
make the clearance necessary. The ships control cabin is on
hydraulic jacks so it drops down into the deck also.
It was a beautiful day to enjoy the scenery along the River.
We have sailed into the center of the Wachau Valley, a favorite
resort area. I am in the cellar cave of a local winery at Spitz. We
have docked here for the morning and the group was off on a winery tasting.
The Weinkolleg Spitz winery was interesting but the cave was very cool.
After the winery, I had a chance to walk around this quaint Austrian village.
There was no bridge across the River at Spitz so the locals
use this ferry boat to cross the River. It was secured to a large
cable to guide it across the River which had a
strong current in area.
A monastery located on the River. It was a beautiful River scene.
The boat landing at Melk. This was the port where we were
docked on the day of 9/11. A P.A. announcement was made on
ship about 4:30 p.m. on that fateful day. Needless to say our attention
from that point on was focused on the events in USA.
A view of the famous Melk Abbey from the River. In the 11th century King
Leopold III handed the castle over to the Benedictine monks.
They converted it into a fortified abbey. The abbey has a notable
collection of 80,000 books. The chapel of the
abbey was very beautiful.
Inside the Melk Abbey chapel. It was ornate and beautiful.
The abbey offered many places for excellent photos.
This is the courtyard leading to the entrance to the abbey.
After our visit to the Abbey, we were bussed to the Castle Artstetten
for a late afternoon reception with the Princess Anita Von Hohenberg.
The castle is located about 30 minutes from Melk. I am standing
on the hill before the castle. We had a chance to chat with the
Princess and then toured the castle museum and crypt.
After our visit to the Castle Artstetten we returned to the River Navigator
for dinner and an on- board classical music recital after dinner. Thus
ended day 10 on the Danube River cruise.
We sailed away from Melk the next morning at 5:00 a.m.
Our next stop was Linz at 1:00 p.m. The afternoon program
was a tour of Linz and a visit to a local brewery located outside of town.
As we sailed on to Linz, a floating gas station joined us to fill the Navigator's tanks.
They were tied to us for over an hour.
The main square in Linz. There were many shops and cafes around the square.
Standing by the fountain in the main square of Linz.
The Hofstetten Brewery located just outside of Linz.
We sampled some of their bucket beer which was cloudy in color but very tasty.
This was a very pretty location to visit.
This was the end of Day 11 and we had our traditional Farewell Dinner
on-board this evening.
The next morning we left Linz for a bus tour to Salzburg.
I elected to take a special Sound of Music & Salzburg tour.
This is the church at Mondsee where the wedding
scene in the movie Sound of Music was filmed.
The gazebo on the grounds of Hellbrunn Castle that was
filmed for a key movie scene in the movie.
That is not Julie Andrews heading for the gazebo!
A view of Salzburg Castle (Hohensalzburg) from Mirabell Gardens
downtown Salzburg. The gardens were
beautiful in spite of the overcast day.
The yellow is Mozart's birth place in downtown Salzburg.
After our stay in Linz and our Salzburg tour, we sailed on to
Passau for our last port of call on the Danube River. This photo
shows the Inn River entering the Danube.
Like all our other city stops along the River we had a walking tour of Passau.
This stop included a visit the mighty Dom (Cathedral) with its large
church organ (17,000 pipes) and 231 stops.
The cathedral is dedicated to St. Stephen.
Fortress Oberhaus, built in 1219, rests high above Passau.
Unfortunately our time schedule did not permit us to visit
the fortress. This is our last stop on the River. We boarded busses
in late morning for a drive to Prague with a lunch stop
in route. It was a beautiful drive.
This is a nicely decorated cow in front of our Marriott hotel in Prague.
There were decorated cows all over downtown Prague. These cows
were to be auctioned of with the monies going to various charities.
Prague was a beautiful city with many neat buildings
and a lot of churches.
A beautiful clock on one of the earlier town halls. This was near the main square.
One more decorated cow. This one is labeled "Going to Hell",
so I thought I would help. I normally would not get
this close to this end of a cow!
In spite of a drizzle and clouds, it is impressive to view Prague Castle
in the distance. We have a tour tomorrow that will take us to the castle.
This evening I joined some of our tour group to attend an
evening concert at Salvador Church with the
Prague Dvorak Symphony Orchestra. It was a superb
event and the music of Dvorak's New World Symphony
was very well performed.
The sun is out and some local musicians are playing for
tips at Prague Castle. There was great view of Prague from location.
We visited the Cathedral of St. Virus located at Prague Castle.
A view of downtown Prague from the Castle.
In the right foreground is the famous Charles Bridge.
Suddenly our 16 day travel adventure was over. Tomorrow we all fly in our
different directions home. It was a great trip and I would
recommend this travel itinerary to anyone who
wants to visit this section of Europe.
This sampling is but a fraction of the photos I took on the trip.
Digital photography allows me to take a great many shots and
then select the best or most interesting to share.
I hope you enjoy seeing my pictures of this trip.