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European Jewels – 2017

Cruising the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers (from Budapest to Amsterdam)

European Jewels (source: Uniworld)

After a long and hard working career of 42 years come to an end, instead of getting a golden watch, me and my lover & best friend decided to take a 18 days vacation in the middle of Europe to unwind, to slow down, to smell the rose and to see the old world… and wow, we did smell the flowers. We went on the European Jewels river cruise trip from Uniworld River Cruise company, visiting 4 countries and many cities, villages along the 3 great rivers : the Danube, Main and Rhine.

With Uniworld, everything is included with one single fee: food, drink, local tours with tour guides, transportation, entertainment, tips… Only airline tickets and extra travel insurance are not included. This free us from worrying about the trip planning and let us really enjoy our vacation.

We invite you to go along with us to a wonderful, amazing, peaceful and beautiful journey …

Cruising 3 rivers: Danube, Main, Rhine from Budapest to Amsterdam (source: Uniworld)

September-October is a perfect time for European travel, the temperature is not too hot, not too cold and not too crowded with tourist. Trees are are already into Fall season, beautiful color…

We left Los Angeles (California) on Sept-26-2017, landed in Paris (France) for a short stop, change airplane then continue our trip, arrived in Budapest (Hungary) in the late afternoon Sept-27.

BUDAPEST (HUNGARY)

Sept-27

The first impression with Budapest airport is a dental office inside the arriving terminal. The Uniworld employees welcome us at the terminal and it took about 30 minutes for the company bus to get to the Uniworld River Princess ship docking on the Danube river at the center of the Budapest city.

Dental clinic at the arrival terminal
River Princess ship (source: Uniworld)

All river ships are small and only 3 “living” decks plus the top deck. River Pricess maximum passengers is 128 with 41 crew members, crew mostly are from the Eastern bloc countries. We only had 80 passengers on our trip. Everday Uniworld has a local expert to give us a short lecture about the local scenery and the local history.

After the welcome dinner from the ship captain, the stunning night view of Budapest outside the dinning room with the Széchenyi Chain Bridge across the famous Danube river.

Sept-28

Today in the morning, we took the Budapest city tour to the famous Matthias Church at the top of a hill in Buda site, look over the Pest side of the Budapest city from across the Danube river and we saw the River Princess ship, the church has an architecture of mixed Muslim Mosque and Christian Church due to its past history. We then visit the Heroes’ Square, and were told Hungarian people don’t like the communist Russian due to their occupation of Hungary during the 1900s. In the afternoon, we have free time to discover Budapest on our own, we walked to the indoor Central Market Hall, bypassing the next door building of the Corvinus Budapest University. We saw Kalifornia (?) red pepper 398 Florint/1Kg (Hungary money, about $1.25 US/2 lbs) and a sausage shop “The Food of Kings – The King of Food”. About 5PM the ship sails to Vienna, Austria, passing the famous Hungarian Parliament Building. By the way, we were not lucky enough to see the world famous “Blue Danube”, we only saw the “Green Danube”

VIENNA (AUSTRIA)

Sept-29

Today is all day scenic sailing along the Danube, perfect time for the body to relax, catching up and re-sync with the local time zone… During the whole trip, Uniworld has Larry Aarons, a portrait artist, to teach passengers how to draw people portrait during the ship sailing time. The scene along the Danube river is very calm and nice, but not many castles yet… We enter the 1st river lock of this trip (more about river lock later), amazing skill of the ship captain, we have less than 12″ space (less than 20cm) from the ship to the lock cement-wall and we arrived in Vienna about early evening.

After dinner, we decided to pay extra fees for a special Uniworld passenger-only private evening tour of the Schönbrunn Palace, the main summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs with 1441 rooms Baroque style architecture, also the residence of Empress Elisabeth “Sissi”. The famous 1955 “Sissi” movie was partially filmed here.

Sept-30

Today we visited the Hofburg Palace, it was the main resident of the imperial Habsburg dynasty rulers. We then took a leisure strolling on the Kohlmarkt and Graben pedestrian streets, stopped by to enjoyed the very famous Demal coffee shop (open since 1786 and was the cake shop for the Austria royal family – a little expensive thou !). On the way back to the ship on the Danube river, we cross over a small Danube river ? – Yes, it’s the Danube canal (DonauKanal).

In the late afternoon, the River Princess sailed to Weissenkirchen, a small village along the Danube river.

Oct-1

Today we will visit a small Weissenkirchen village and the beautiful and famous 300 years old Melk Abbey, but the original abbey was here since 1000 years ago. Melk Abbey library is also one of the world most amazing library, unfortunately visitors were not allow to take picture inside the library so we have to borrow few pictures from the internet to show you what is inside the library.

The first few pictures were the early morning scenery of the very beautiful Wachau valley of Austria, very famous for high quality of wines. We were surprised to see our ship was docking in the middle of nowhere ? no docking facility (to show you that the ship is capable was docking almost anywhere along the river – we were told a little joke that “if the ship is sinking, don’t worry, either you can walk to shore or just go to the top dock, the sun deck, then we will serve you coffee – Why ? Because the river is about average 15-ft deep !)

Unfortunately, tourists can not take pictures inside the beautiful “Baroque style” Melk Abbey, these few following pictures are from the internet, but it’s exactly as what we saw. The back of the Abbey with 2 tall towers are the very famous and gorgeous Melk Abbey library and the chapel. If you don’t see the Melk Abbey yet, you don’t know about Baroque style yet – Wow, no kidding !!!

Back to the ship, my lover & best friend wants more …? so we went hiking with the ship tour guide and only 4 ship passengers to the top of the Weissenkirchen village hill, going through the village church and many small wineries. Along the way we saw several people houses with their own wine bottles for sales. I was so tired so while other continue to go hiking, both of us stopped at a view spot, all most at the hill top and rest, we look down and saw our ship far away on the left side of the church. Sunset on the Danube, what a wonderful day…

Long flying into Budapest from Los Angeles/Paris/Budapest 
Cruising the Danube River Vienna 
Cruising the Wachau Valley, Weissenkirchen-Melk 
Passau 
Regensburg 
Nuremberg 
Bamberg Würzburg - Rothenburg 
Wertheim 
Frankfurt - Heidelberg 
Rüdesheim 
Cologne 
Amsterdam 
Going home to Los Angeles - California