Welcome back for more European Christmas Markets from my cruise in 2018. This is a continuation of my first blog. If you missed it, here’s the link to Christmas Market River Cruise part one of my Christmas Market cruising adventure with AmaWaterways.
But first, I often find that sometimes people don’t really understand what a river cruise is all about. They think they will be confined, or they think the food won’t be good or it will cost too much. That’s the reason I’m telling you about my experience on the Danube River. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, and here I will show you as well as tell you.
Last night we were in Tulln ,and this morning we cruised back to Vienna. That is because today is all about seeing Vienna, the sights as well a the Christmas Markets.
Starting with a walking tour of the Old Town, and then a daytime visit to four of the twenty unique Christmas markets in Vienna. There’s no way to see them all in one day but we did see a good sampling. And in the evening we repeated the Rathaus Christmas market to enjoy it’s fabulous lights and ambiance.
This was a full day of more Christmas markets and Christmas shopping. Shopping in the Christmas Markets in Europe opens up the possibilities for unique gifts you won’t find in Macy’s.
Today we experienced a full day cruising the Wachau Valley. The first activity of day was a morning excursion in Dürnstein.
Insider tip: All excursions on AmaWaterways are included. Better yet, there are choices! Choose from a biking tour of Dürnstein, or a walking tour with wine tasting included. Gentle walkers had a mini-train. The Apricots and Sweets tour included tasting apricot products of all kinds. Those who want to sleep in had the option of late starters walking tour.
I loved the walking tour with the wine tasting. Our guide enhanced his tour with stories about Richard the Lionhearted that brought the history of the area to life. Durnstein did not have a Christmas market, but they did have so many fun shops, I didn’t even notice.
After a very active morning walking up to the town and back down to the ship, the next pleasure was lunch while cruising the Wachau Valley. If you dream of old sleepy towns, ruins and vineyards along the Danube, this is what you’re dreaming about.
While we were cruising, active bikers were biking the distance from Durnstein to Melk, where we stopped to visit Melk Abbey. Melk Abbey is a Benedictine Abbey that is over 900 years old. One of it’s most famous treaures is the library. Their Christmas Market was not open yet, though it appeared to be ready for the weekend crowds.
Finally, back on board a lovely tasting menu dinner in The Chef’s Table. This is a specialty of AmaWaterways.
Click on the picture below to see the images from this day starting with Durnstein and ending with dinner at The Chef’s Table.
Linz, Austria was the stop for this day. In Linz there were a variety of tours to choose from. You could take a bike tour of the Culture Mile in Linz; a walking tour for regular, active and gentle walkers, and finally, a full day or half day tour to Salzburg (where the hills are alive.) And there was one more: a trip to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and more european Christmas Markets.
I have long wanted to see Cesky Krumlov, so that was our choice; about an hour drive from Linz. Cesky Krumlov is another UNESCO World Heritage city. It requires a drive across the mountains and a possible passport check at the border between Austria and the Czech Republic. We all brought our passports just in case. But there was no border/passport control today and we carried on.
Without further description, here’s a video of the sights we saw while walking through Cesky Krumlov on a very cold day. Click on the picture to view.
A final full day cruising the Danube on the AmaCerto. First a tour of Passau with the usual options. Then, a rainy visit to the Floating Christmas Market in Vilshofen.
Click on the picture below to see some of the sights of both cities.
Before the day is done, there is packing to be done, gratuities to dispense, and last hugs with new friends.
The end of any cruise is not as fun as the beginning. It’s sad to say goodbye to friends we’ve made, and to the warm and friendly staff who have served us all week.
There is so much more to tell you. Amawaterways did a perfect job preparing guests for the Christmas Season. Tree decorating for one that everyone get’s involved in. Hunting for the pickle, an old German tradition that has so many origins, I don’t know which one is true. Other old traditions are followed like leaving your shoes outside the door (or by the chimney if you had one) for a special candy treat. And, of course, the gluhwein you can drink at each Christmas market, served in it’s own signature mug. Gluhwein mugs are one of my favorite souvenirs!
We had one more destination to visit after our cruise; Prague. For more Christmas markets click this link to read and see more about the Prague Christmas Markets.
But first, I’ll tell you how easy it is to make the transfer to Prague. We purchased the AmaWaterways transfer for the roughly 3 1/2 hour drive to Prague. But don’t worry about sitting for all that time on a motor coach. We stopped about half way to Prague in the German city of Regensburg, for yet another Christmas Market.
This included a walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide, and time to grab a sausage from the famous Sausage House. This allowed for stretching our feet, and picking up some last minute German souvenirs. Then we were back on the bus for the final leg of the journey.
My goal was to give you a view of what river cruising is about, particularly at Christmas time. But really, any time of the year. There is so much to see and do when the river is your road to adventure.
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