Viking River Cruise-Romantic Danube December/January 2012/13

We had always wanted to do a river cruise in Europe, after looking at several different options, Viking River Cruises offered the best deal in our opinion.  We had signed up for the last cruise of the season which departed around December 30th from Budapest. It was cold when we arrived in Budapest and the Christmas markets just ended, which gave us another idea for our Bucket list to see Christmas markets, but the city was still beautifully decorated for the holidays. We had a made a reservation with a Marriott property The New York Palace and wow was it beautiful and it just so happened they upgraded us to a suite, boy we were excited. We got to wonder around Budapest a bit before meeting at another Marriott directly located on the Danube River, just up from where our boat was docked to get our cruise instructions and also to inform us they had to get a different boat due to the fact the river was running high and the current boat would not fit under the bridges.  We would still depart on time but since the boat was not going to be decorated for the holidays, they were giving us $1000 a person off our next cruise.  All the rooms on the boat had balconies, which was nice. That night we stayed on the boat but weren’t scheduled to leave until the next evening.  We did a few tours around Budapest that were included in the cruise.  We toured the castle district with a panoramic view of the Pest side of the city, we saw the National Opera House, Parliament Building along with the famous Chain Bridge.  We stopped at Heroes’ Square and watched ice skaters on the near by ice rink and of course we had to stop and try Hungarian Goulash. Our river cruise was from Budapest Hungry to Nuremburg Germany.  We finally set sail December 31st with our first stop being Vienna Austria.  There we opted to do a Vienna Panoramic tour and also take in a Viennese Mozart and Strauss Concert at the Opera House. Vienna was beautiful and looked like it had quite a celebration for New Years Eve, we also got to see the Spanish Riding School where the famed Lipizzaner Stallions are housed.  Next stop on the cruise was Krems Austria, there we toured the Gottweig Abbey, a working Benedictine Abbey.  After the tour we rejoined the boat for a leisure cruise the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We arrived in the morning at Passau Germany, the spot 3 rivers come together, the Inn, Ilz and the Danube.  It began to snow as we took our guided walk through the town’s narrow streets, which made it more magical in our opinion.  We ended our evening at a Bavarian Beerfest which was a lot of fun, music, dancing, drinking and eating German style.  The next morning after breakfast we arrived in Regensburg Germany, there we did another walking tour of one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities.  The Viking Cruises cater to an older clientele  but that was alright to us, each evening we would get a glass or two of wine and take it up on the roof top deck, where we always were the only ones there due to the cold temperatures and sip wine in our winter coats and watch the beautiful countryside go by, our own private bar you could say. We enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere. Day seven of our cruise we arrived in Nuremburg Germany.  While there we toured Zeppelin Field, the former Nazi parade grounds and Congress Hall.  We also went by the Palace of Justice, where the Nuremburg Trials were held.  We stopped at the Nuremburg Castle, and walked around the imperial palace gardens and past the Albrecht Durer house and into Market Square with a very unique Gothic fountain called the Schoner Brunnen Fountain.  The two brass rings embedded in the fence surrounding the fountain on opposite sides are said to bring good luck to those who spin them. What a great way to start a new year and even better way to take a trip down the Danube River.