Cesky Krumlov: Fantasy Town on the Vltava River

ABOARD THE VIKING VILJHAM– Today’s adventure takes us to Cesky Krumlov, slightly more than an hour and a half away from Linz, Austria where we are docked. Cesky Krumlov rates just a small and meek dot on the map of the Czech Republic – – politically inconsequential.  But she’s a mighty tourist cauldron, simmering a mixture of Medieval, Renaissance, baroque and rococo in a rich pilsner beer broth. And the kettle bubbles over. I first visited Cesky …

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Exploring the Wachau Valley on the Viking Vilhjalm river ship

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — Early in the morning, my Viking Longship arrived in Krems, a small Austrian village on the banks of the Danube. Red roofs, a bulbous turret and a yellow clock tower rising above the town greeted us. Viking cruises offers an exclusive visit to the Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig, a working monastery that’s been in existence for more than 900 years. The monks live, work and worship from a hilltop overlooking postcard-pretty Wachau …

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Vienna: Hapsburgs, Lipizzaners, Mozart and Strauss

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — The Hapsburgs ruled the Austro Hungarian Empire from Vienna using their fortune to build Baroque palaces, churches and museums across the city. Those buildings form the core of what is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Vienna’s rich history and culture continue to dance —like its famous waltzes — sweeping you in and maintaining your interest. My Viking Danube cruise provided a day with many opportunities to touch and taste the capital of …

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Bratislava: Exploring behind the former Iron Curtain

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — The Viking Viljhalm cruise makes a stop in Bratislava, Slovakia, a country where people now travel freely. Until the early 1990’s, Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia and under communist rule, closed off to the world behind the “Iron Curtain.” Bratislava, the capital city, lies at the strategic crossroads between Budapest and Vienna. In the 10th century, it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1536, what is now called Bratislava became …

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Budapest: Exploring the Pearl of the Danube

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — Budapest has well earned its nickname of the “ Pearl of the Danube.”  The Danube River waltzes through the city core, dividing the old city on the west – – Buda – – and its younger sibling – – Pest – – on the opposite bank. Viking justly named its river cruise the Danube Waltz, accentuating the river’s music with a daily complimentary tour and a variety of optional excursions. I started with …

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Arrival in Budapest for the Viking Danube Waltz Cruise

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — Overnight flights leave most travelers tired and groggy, a feeling I experienced upon arrival in Budapest. Clearing customs quickly, my travel partner and I met the Viking Cruise representatives at the baggage claim exit. They escorted us to a bus that delivered the group directly to the Viking Viljhalm docked on the Danube River. The mighty waterway, famous for the Straus Waltz, splits the enchanting capital of Hungary with Buda on one …

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Final Review of Celestyal’s 7-Day Idyllic Aegean Cruise

The final morning on the Celestyal Crystal came all too soon. The seven-day cruise whizzed by with so many excursions and activities that I barely found enough time to sleep. Reflecting back on the islands toured, the photos taken, and history lessons learned, my head and heart burst with joyful memories. I’d sign on and recommend this cruise for anyone wishing to capture the spirit of the Greek isles. The disembarkation process was a breeze.  Our luggage …

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A Stop at Ephesus in Turkey

The 7-Day Aegean Islands Cruise on the Celestyal Crystal gives passengers the option of a daylong exploration of Patmos, an island in Greece with early Christian relics, or a half-day in Kudasasi, Turkey with the opportunity to see the archeological wonders at Ephesus. The ancient world made Ephesus a center of travel and commerce. For a little over an hour, the UNESCO World Heritage site became the center of my world. The Greeks originally built Ephesus in …

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Viking River Cruises present the Danube Waltz

My cruise from Budapest, Hungary to Passau, Germany will pass through four European countries over eight days, with six included guided excursions. I’ll take a non-stop flight from Philadelphia to Budapest, and then embark on the Viking Vilhjalm, a Viking Longship with streamlined Scandinavian design and understated elegance. My home for the next eight days will include a 205 square foot Veranda Stateroom with a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door opening to a full-size veranda.  It also includes …

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A Brief Visit to the Glories of Crete (Day 5)

Many first-time visitors to mainland Europe are amazed to see cathedrals still in use after 800-1000 years.  But Greece takes visitors much further back in time. The home of the mythological gods lies scattered with a wealth of ruins and relics dating back 3,000-4,000 years. The Greek island of Crete had one of the earliest civilizations dating back to the Bronze Age. The Minoan settlement employed skilled workers who built complex architectural marvels and created intricate artistic …

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