Monday, September 16, 2013

Setting Sail

I went on a large Disney cruise years ago and the person who coordinated it said it would be wonderful because I would never have to worry about seeing my grandchildren.  She was absolutely correct in that I never saw the kids except at dinner and that made me rather sad.  There was manufactured fun on the ship or lots of sitting around on the ship or exercising on the ship and nothing to see but the ocean for hours.  I disliked the whole experience.  Our stateroom was small with no windows and very crowded since we also had the 'pac and play' for our youngest and tucked her in each evening.  Therefore, I will never go on a cruise with over a thousand people like that again.  Whenever we came into a port we disgorged lots of people and swarmed over stores and restaurants like nasty bees.  We got only one beach day after all the confinement!  There were lots of sticky sweet tropical alcoholic drinks, if that is your cup of tea!

This Viking river cruise was so different in that there were no waves, no manufactured fun (well a little) and the room was just a little more spacious and the groups for tours were much smaller-one bus load.  The views were always interesting as you could see the shore each and every day and most of this part of Europe is not ugly industrial.  The cruise director and all of our guides had a wealth of knowledge about the area and its history and answered our various questions completely when we saw something curious or wonderful.

One of the responders to a prior post voiced concern about how the lower level staff could be treated (mistreated) on a cruise ship.  It is my understanding from the upper level staff that Viking works very hard at keeping good working relations and decent living conditions among all staff.  I do know that the ship interrupted their schedule to stop at a small town to let off one of the lower level staff who had a family emergency, and they provided him with a train ticket to Vienna and a plane ticket home.  Yet, I am sure their living quarters were tight on board ship and I do know they worked very long hours.

We did learn that the Danube can be a ruthless river and the flood this last May left devastation to these lovely old medieval cities all along its coast.  Where our guide is holding his hand is the level of the flood waters of that most recent flood in May of this year in the city of Regensburg, Germany.  All the other dates and marks written on the wall are other floods in this town dating back to the 1500's.  The people do not have flood insurance to cover losses and the government no longer allows them to live on the ground floor.  They may use it only for business.

Perhaps that is why this tattoo parlor on the ground floor is so sparsely furnished?

Most of the architecture away from the river is not as old as it looks.  Many parts of the various cities were rebuilt or restored after fires and wars and are not original...but you would be hard pressed to recognize that restoration except for their clean condition.  They paid great attention to detail creating buildings that looked like the original.  They are proud of their heritage and proud of their link to the past and their part in the history of the world.  But I did get the impression that the Germans were most happy to pause only shortly at WWII sites for tours and quickly move on to the wonderful medieval history that reflects their history so much more fully.  They know that those of us from the new world are most fascinated by this much older history and most depressed by the most recent World War.

There was a small mix-up in the call for the tour guide and this lovely woman in black had left mass (it was Sunday) to come guide us through her hometown of Regensburg.  She appeared to be late until her son, the young man in the photo below this, appeared and said that he had been scheduled for the tour which resulted in the mix up in names.  Honestly ladies, which guide would you rather have??

Just as an aside, our guide's lederhosen belonged to his grandfather and he had just inherited them from him as a gift and was most happy as they were far more comfortable than his newer ones.  He explained that it might take years to break in lederhosen to a comfortable wearing level. His shoes are a traditional Bavarian half shoe.  Isn't he scrumptious even right down to his shoes?


  1. Breath taking architecture. I had never considered breaking in lederhosen. That could give a body a rash.

    I've been on one big cruise to Alaska, tho' not as big as some, and I agree with you. The staff went at breakneck speed the whole time. The service was excellent. Still if I go back to SE Alaska, and I'd hope to, I'll take the Alaska ferry and spend a couple of days in each place.

  2. Yes. German men are quite to my taste,also, as far as looks go! But let us not cast aspersions upon hatted elder ladies, who might have more interesting things to relate.
    You were fortunate to have such wonderful weather for this once in a lifetime experience.

  3. It sounds like a trip of a lifetime and I'm so enjoying your pictures and commentary.

  4. I have never been on a cruise of any kind, but the Disney one sounds like my idea of Hell. The river cruise seems more appealing.

  5. Big ships are not much fun, that's true. The couple of river cruises i've been on in Europe were much better, as you found, although those were shorter (one day, then stay in that different city, and rail or bus to another city a couple of days later, all part of a longer tour).

    We did cross the Atlantic on the QE2 many years ago, and i enjoyed it, but would rather something smaller. It was more like a floating hotel than anything else, and a long way around to get "across the pond."

  6. My idea of hell is a cruise. But Europe always does it better.

  7. Never been on a cruise, but I have seen these Viking river cruises advertised on pbs. It seems that they are much better than the Disney-type thing, at least from the perspective of a 63 year old person.

  8. heh...nice the views in those first couple shots...i loved cruising when we did...would not mind going on another and we were def not interested in contrived fun and distraction beyond just the experience...

  9. It appears that you were really enjoying ALL of the scenery! :-)
    I loved the land tours on our river cruises. We saw so many old and wonderful, or wonderfully restored places.

  10. Tour guides have to have one heck of a job. Can you imagine the stories they have to tell?

  11. I haven't visited for yonks, and look what you've been up to. I'm green with envy, how I'd love to do one of those river trips through Europe. I could sit and look at that first image all night! So glad you are enjoying your trip.

  12. Scrumptious is an understatement! And those shoes are fabulous!!

  13. Oh, I think his mom's hat is delicious too. :)

    Glad you are yours are ok. What a horror that all was yesterday. G and I found that the smaller ships of the Holland America Line have a certain charm. We too won't go on one of the bigger ones again. Captain Albert keeps a blog. You might check it out. :)

  14. looks like a great trip. Beautiful photos

  15. I'm learning that it's good to ask a lot of questions before embarking upon a cruise.

    Glad you had a little eye candy along the way of your wonderful vacation.


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