Category Archives: Majestic Rivers of Europe

Passau, Our First Stop in Germany

After revisiting Budapest and Vienna, the remaining stops on The Majestic Rivers are in Germany and are all new for us. Today we did a walking tour. Vantage has divide us into three walking groups: the regular walkers, the active walkers, and the gentle walkers. We have chosen the active walkers. It doesn’t mean we walk faster, but we cover more territory which must mean (since all groups take the same time) we spend less time in a location and get less information at each site.

Passau is noted for being at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, Inn, and Ilz. This spot is looking up the Danube with the Ilz flowing in by the side of the two buildings on the right bank. The Inn joins the Danube immediately behind us. The Ilz is important for recreational purposes such as kayaking.
Looking up the Inn river toward a medieval tower and town.
Passau is known as the Venice of Germany in part because of its narrow lanes between buildings. This area has suffered severe flooding which has caused the walls to bulge. The arches are for structural support.
City Hall
The people were dressed for a wedding in front of the city hall.
Museum and fountain.
Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, the mother church to the cathedral of the same name in Vienna.
Our tour included an organ concert. The cathedral is home to the second largest organ in the world according to Vantage. It is the largest organ outside of the US according to Wikipedia. There are five organs played from one keyboard. The main organ is in the center rear with a smaller organ on each side. As I understand it, there are more organ pipes on one side of the knave and more above the ceiling.
In the afternoon we visited a glass museum exhibiting more than 30,000 items. That seemed like a lot when we read about the museum. It seemed like even more when we walked through numerous rooms scattered over four floors. Following are a few more pictures from the museum.

The Danube, Castles, and Churches

Today was the only day of our cruise with no scheduled port stops. On an ocean cruise we would call that a “sea day”. I guess we should call this a “river day”. Our cruise today was on the Danube through the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its architectural and agricultural history. There are many vineyards on its hills. Following are pictures of some of the sites in the valley. As you can see, it was a gray day with occasional drizzle.

This is the sun deck of our ship, River Splendor. The cabin in the center is where the captain pilots the ship.
We go through a total of 66 locks on this trip. The boat always hugs one wall even though we are the only ship in the lock. He is able to do this without the ship hitting the wall.
Our room has a French balcony which means we have a sliding glass window with bars across it on the outside. This shows how close we are to the wall of the lock. The ship must be exactly parallel to the wall of the lock to avoid hitting it. The length of the ship is 443 ft., so that is no easy accomplishment!

Our Blue Danube Waltz

We spent two weeks in Vienna a few years ago so these two days on this river cruise were nostalgic for us. We even managed to see something new.

Our tour was to the Museum Quarter where we had a guided tour of the art museum. A statue of Maria Theresa dominates the gardens between the buildings.
The grand entry stairs to the museum.
St. Stephen’s Square in the heart of the city is dominated by the cathedral.
The highlight of our first day was a limoncello spritzer with apple strudel for Susan and sachertorte for me on the streets of Vienna near St. Stephen’s Square.
The morning of our second day began with a bus ride around the Ring Road, the heart of the city. This was followed by a guided tour of the Opera House. They perform a different opera every day and the sets are stored off site. They tear down the previous night’s set in the morning and build the new one in the afternoon. If something happens and they can’t get the set to the evening opera in time, the set for Tosca is stored on site and every musician has to know Tosca. You are always at risk that you may be seeing Tosca instead of the opera you thought you were seeing.
We then did a walking tour. This is a portion of The Winter Palace.
A typical walking/shopping street just like at home.
I liked the sign for this magic shop.
Our activities for the day ended with a chamber music performance featuring two dancers, a soprano, and a baritone. The show was performed in a classic venue just for our ship and they were all very good. Of course the show ended with the Blue Danube Waltz.

Majestic Rivers of Europe

We booked the Vantage Travel Majestic Rivers of Europe for mid August many months ago. Our flight to get there was from Wilmington, NC to Atlanta to Amsterdam, and to our destination to start the cruise, Budapest. For the last few months, the restrictions due to COVID have been greatly relaxed. That worry was replaced with near daily alarmist articles about the drought in Europe making river cruising dubious, flight cancellations throughout Europe and the US due to staffing shortages, and lost luggage – particularly in Amsterdam. We soldiered on despite these worries, but did decide to do a little cross packing in case only one of our suitcases made it to Budapest. No worries! Our first two flights arrived early, our flight from Amsterdam was only 15 minutes late due to a baggage handling staffing shortage, and both our suitcases made it to Budapest.

Our destination for the day we arrived was the Central Market Hall filled with produce, butcher shops, fish markets, and Hungarian crafts – especially lace. We bought some sweet paprika and some hot paprika.
The main entrance to the Central Market Hall.
Central Budapest is filled with buildings of architectural interest.
Detail of one of the buildings in the previous picture.
Many of the buildings are lit at night.
The second day we took a panoramic tour. Hungary celebrates Saint Stephen’s Day or Constitution Day in two days and preparation for the holiday was obvious all over town. Saint Stephen was the first king of Hungary and is credited with laying the foundation for the state by converting the Magyar people to Christianity. The day is marked by a large fireworks display along the Danube. Souvenir stands, as seen above, and stages were being set up all over the central area. The above reminded us of the large puppets in San Miguel. Above is two separate puppets with the head not visible on the white puppet. They were practicing their routine for the holiday.
Fisherman’s Bastion on Castle Hill has commanding views.
The best views of Matthias Church were marred by stage construction, so this rear view will have to do.
The changing of the guard at Sandor Palace, the presidential home. Many of the buildings on capital hill were being rebuilt in their traditional style. There was construction everywhere.
Buda Castle, now an art museum.
The parliament building from the river during our sailing out of Budapest to Vienna.
One advantage of the low water level in the Danube is that it has created miles of beach. People were enjoying an escape from the near 100 F heat all along the river. Next stop Vienna.