A monument to Waltz King Johann Strauss in Vienna
This journey was an eight-day cruise along
the Danube starting and ending at Passau in
Bavaria, visiting a different destination
everyday while travelling through Hungary,
Slovakia and Austria.
One of the advantages of this mode of
travel is that towns tend to flourish near
rivers, and therefore except for Vienna, we
were within walking distance of the centre
of wherever we visited. Even so, for anyone
taking one of the optional extra daily tours
there was a coach provided.
As people were arriving on different
flights from all parts of the country, I found
I had several hours before departure to walk
around the pretty town of Passau, and even
visit the cathedral. At that time, I didn’t
realise just how many churches we would
be visiting on our trip!
What is fascinating is seeing the traditional
Bavarian costume of white-laced blouse
under a scooped low cut dress, being sold
in many of the clothes shops, and indeed
being worn by several of the locals.
Our first stop was at Melk in Austria,
at one time the most northern part of the
Roman Empire. The ornate Melk Abbey,
considered one of the most beautiful and
important Baroque buildings in Europe,
is still part of a working monastery.
The scenery everywhere while cruising
is just beautiful, at times breathtaking. The
cabins all have floor to ceiling sliding glass
doors which can be opened so you can lie
in bed and watch the ripples on the water.
Although one thinks of it as blue, it is, in
fact, the colour of all rivers, a murky brown.
At some of our destinations, as we were
cruising at a busy time of the year, when
mooring up, it often meant being alongside
As one of my travelling companions
commented: “It can be rather embarrassing
opening your curtains of a morning, only
to find yourself staring at a complete
stranger, with both of you in a complete
state of disarray!”
One of the delights about the Danube is
that it winds through various countries. Our
next stop was in Hungary in the old town of
Esztergom, which has the country’s largest
basilica, part of which dates back to the 1500s.
Unfortunately, the tour itineraries weren’t
that clear. With only a short time at some of
the destinations, and a packed itinerary, some
of us would have preferred time exploring
the area rather than spending it looking at
religious artefacts. There were also those who
couldn’t walk too far or manage the cobbled
streets who had to return to the ship early.
Budapest is split into three, with the River
Danube conveniently dividing Buda and
Pest. Hungary is well-known for its thermal
spas. I was mortified not to have brought
a swimming costume as we moored opposite
the Gellert Hotel, which is renowned for
its extensive therapeutic thermal spas.
I did, however, have time to visit
the synagogue, the second largest in
the world, and to pay my respects at the
Holocaust memorial commemorating
the 600,000 Jews who died under the