Today we visited Buda and Pest. We saw the National Opera House and historis Heroes’ Square. Then we visited Matthias Church. In my photos, you’ll see shoes on the sea wall. You can read about those here.
Bavaria/Germany was the land of beer. And, I enjoyed more than my share of dark beer. Austria, however, is the land of wine. This morning we explored Vienna’s gracious architecture and rode along the beautiful Ringstrasse. This afternoon found us at the Schonbrunn Palace.
There isn’t enough water to float our long ship any farther on the Danube. We had a late breakfast and got on a bus to get us past the part of the river that is too shallow for our long ship. We joined the Viking Atla. This is actually the ship we were supposed to be on from the beginning. It’s amazing how it is exactly like the Jarl. The only difference I’ve found is in the pull out tray of my nightstand – it was on the left on the Jarl and it’s on the right on the Atla. Today we cruised what is reported to be the most picturesque part of the Danube. We spent the afternoon in the lounge watching the scenery and listening to the commentary on the landmarks.
We started our day with a walking tour of the Italianate-style city streets of Passau, where three major European rivers (Danube, Inn, Ilz) have converged to shape a distinctive city. We saw the impressive Bishops’ Residenz from where powerful prince-bishops ruled secular and religious life for hundreds of years. We saw the 14th-century Rathaus, or Town Hall, built on the site of a former fish market on the Danube. We attended a pipe organ concert at the magnificent 17th-century St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This baroque wonder houses Europe’s largest pipe organ, with more than 17,000 pipes, and inspired Liszt to write his “Hungarian Coronation Mass”. Then it was on to Gut Aichet for local beer and pretzels. It’s been raining most of the day. This area really needs the rain!
I can’t remember the name of the monument we visited. I just know it was something like 165 steps to the top – and I did them all. The view from the top was well worth the trip. Then we visited Weltenburg Abbey, one of Germany’s oldest monasteries. Its famous brewery was founded in 1050, and beer has been brewed there ever since. Our tour ended with beer and a pretzel. Back to the ship for lunch. I went off in search of what I thought might have been a yarn store. It wasn’t. They did have a knit hat. It was an adventure to search for it on my own.
We toured Nuremberg. We saw the ruins of Zeppelin Field, the Nazi parade grounds of the 1930’s, and Congress Hall. We also saw the Palace of Justice, the venerable vestige of the Nuremberg Trials. Then we visited medieval Nuremberg Castle. Our tour ended with a walk from the imperial palace grounds, past the Albrecht Curer House and on to the Main Market Square of Old Town. There we stopped to enjoy local beer and gingerbread. Back to the ship for lunch and the safety drill. We snoozed through a lecture on Bavaria. Went up in three locks, and started to lock down. Dinner. We’ll cruise through the night.
After breakfast at the Meridian, we enjoyed a tour of the romantic “City of Light.” We traveled along the famed Champs Elysees, viewing the landmark Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806. We passed many of Paris’ classic highlights including the complex of military buildings known as Les Invalides, including Napoleon’s Tomb; the Ecole Militaire (Military School); Paris Town Hall; the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame; Opera Garnier Palace; the Orsay Museum and the beautiful and recently restored Grand Palais and Petit Palais. We saw many of the city’s famed locations including St. Gerain des Pres, the Latin Quarter, Vendome and Concorde Squares. We also saw the modern addition to the city’s architecture as pe passed by the I.M. Pei-designed glass pyramid entrance to the celebrated Louvre Museum. We had lunch at a streetside Cafe, then walked the Champs Elysees Christmas Market.