I cannot begin to tell you how cold it is. As the BBC weather person said this morning. “Western Europe is fairly moderate. It is quite cold in the East.”
AMADolce is docked in Vienna. Vienna is pretty far east of where the forecaster was reporting.
It is cold.
This hot-house flower finds temperature in the 20s unpleasant. And that’s where the temperature hovered as we toured Budapest yesterday morning. A couple of stops for coffee were invigorating on the gray, gloomy day, but the glory of Budapest was worth it.
I revisited a city I had last seen before the red stars cane came down from atop the buildings. Heroes Square, City Park, crossing the magnificent bridges and touring through Buda. (Pest is the other side of the Danube) and seeing what changes more than two decades brought to the Hungarian capital was an amazing experience.
AMA Waterways offers many complimentary tours and a couple which are optional. Or, guests can choose to remain aboard, read, enjoy complimentary WiFi. movies on television or just veg and watch the beautiful Danube.
In the afternoon we boarded our buses to ride to Vienna and our home-away-from home, AMADolce. It is approximately a four-hour drive and we arrived here at the ship to find it was everything we’d heard it was.
AMADolce is one of a dozen ships in the AMAWaterways fleet, sailing to Europe, Russia, Vietnam and Cambodia. A leader in river boat cruising, AMAWaterways had been something I’d heard veteran travelers rave about.
The Lounge is the core of the vessel. It is where Captain Achim Mieritsh graciously welcomed us with a dry wit and a warm and cheerful manner and, where we toasted our voyage up the Danube with a fine glass of champagne. Then cruise manager Kriss Stallabrass and hotel manager Guido Kollmann also made their new guests comfortable and then it was time for dinner.
This is a wine cruise and AMA Waterways has brought big names in the wine business aboard. Last night was the first lecture and tasting and there will be more through the week. In fact, tonight’s complimentary activity is a tour to a Vienna heuriger. A heuriger is a wine tavern and guests will visit a tavern that has been family owned for more than 500 years. Additional wine tastings and lectures are scheduled through the week.
But let me tell you more about the ship.
Now, with Christmas decorations aboard, the ship is especially festive. It is not quite three years old and has the feel an elegant European country home. Cabins are small in size but graciously decorated and well- equipped. Our cabin has full-length sliding-glass doors overlooking the river.
The attractive dining room is large and airy. It is made up of various-sized tables seating two to 10.
If last night’s dinner menu — and this morning’s breakfast buffet — are samples, anyone watching their weight is in real trouble. Consider a dinner menu offering Nebraska beef strip loin with horseradish cruse and green pepper sauce served with carved vegetables and creamy potatoes, grilled butterfish and shrimp or a vegetarian choice of spinach, goat cheese and puff paste. I opted for the fish entree, but the beef seemed the most popular entree and all agreed it was wonderful.
Breakfast today included the typical Brit breakfast of grilled tomato, bacon, baked beans and scrambled eggs, made-to-order omelets, bagels. smoked salmon, (okay, it’s lox,) and fresh fruits, stewed fruit, juices, pancakes, oatmeal, etc., etc., etc. I had half a fresh-baked donut with a crimp chocolate coating sprinkled with peanuts. Dunkin’ would dunk their heads in embarrassment. It was luscious. It tasted like more!
And then the vessel cleared out.
Most passengers head out to enjoy the complimentary city tour of Vienna. I chose to stay aboard and catch up on some work. The ship categorizes walking tours for “gentle” walkers, and those who like a regular or even a faster pace. I like that, and probably will choose the “gentle” option on my next tour. I believe that wall be in the Czech Republic.
I’ll go in tonight to see a concert of Mozart and Strauss favorites at Auersperg Palace. It is an option not to be missed. Music in Vienna, it is almost a requirement!
And I will dress warmly.