My traveling companions on the cruise from Nuremberg to Vienna were three ladies I met online: Jeanne (aka Jamamakitty), Mary Ann (aka Teasel) and Janet (aka JanetCanHas4Kittehs). Jamamakitty is from the Seattle area; Teasel is from Salem, Oregon; and Janet is from the west coast of Michigan. We had an ongoing discussion during our trip about whether the vessel we were on was a ship or a boat. After a few days we asked a crew member who threw no light on the subject by saying we could use either term.
Our accommodations on the boat were two tiny little cabins that reminded me of Mark Twain’s description of his cabin in The Innocents Abroad : not enough room to swing a cat. I had the advantage (?) after living in a motor home for three years of being used to cramped quarters. Although I must say, our shipboard cabin made the Winnebago look positively spacious. But it really didn’t matter since we spent very little time in our cabins. For the most part we sailed at night and had the day to explore the cities we stopped at. And when we were sailing during the day, we spent time up in the lounge watching the scenery go by.
After leaving Nuremberg, we stopped at Regensburg, and then Passau followed by Linz. At each city we wandered the cobblestone streets and shopped in the Christmas markets. We also found a few stores with goodies we couldn’t pass up. We found a delightful bookstore and I got a copy of Mark Twain’s “The Awful German Language” which is an 1880 essay published as Appendix D in A Tramp Abroad. This book has the English version on the left page, and the German translation on the facing right hand page.
The next stop on our cruise was Melk. We toured its beautiful monastery on a hill overlooking the Danube. The monastery has been recently restored and it is glorious!! It houses hundreds of well-preserved mideveal manuscripts, many of them on display so we could see the intricate artwork that went into them. In addition to being a major tourist attraction, the monastery functions as the High School for the local children, regardless of religious affiliation. The buildings of the monastery are each both functional and beautiful. There are painted ceilings everywhere, the facades are rich with statuary, and the courtyards have magnificent views. The crowning jewel of the whole establishment is the church. It literally glows inside with gold gilt on everything. Our guide said that although it looks like a LOT of gold, in fact it took only 6 pounds of gold to guild all the statuary and other decorations.
The last stop on our trip was Vienna. Beautiful, glorious Vienna!! The city’s elegant buildings sparkled with Christmas decorations. It was a Saturday and the Christmas market here was packed with out-of-towners from all over eastern Europe. Jeanne and Mary Ann opted for more sight-seeing, but Janet and I fearlessly entered the market and found more goodies to bring home.
After leaving the ship on Sunday, we went to a hotel for two nights so we could enjoy the city a bit more before heading home. And what a hotel!! The lobby was huge, with giant chandeliers and painted ceilings. The hotel was originally built as the guest house for Schönbrunn Palace.
Janet and I had a room that was spacious, with a desk and tables and chairs and little chandeliers and a cute faux balcony — the door opened, but there was a railing right there with no balcony to step out on. But Jeanne and Mary Ann scored big time! They got a corner suite, with an entry hall, a sitting room with a settee, coffee table, chairs, wardrobe; a bedroom even larger than the sitting room with a vanity, desk and queen sized beds and a bathroom and, (are you ready for this?) a balcony that wrapped around the corner of the building with a door into the sitting room and a door into the bedroom. It was AWESOME!! And it was there that I found out that Mary Ann hates me. Just kidding. I walked out onto the balcony from the sitting room to take some pictures. Mary Ann saw the door open and closed and locked it to keep the cold air out. I tried to get back in, found the door locked and went to the other door, which she had also just closed and locked, not realizing I was out there. They were getting ready to leave for dinner, wondering “Where’s Marilynn?” But they did let me back in when I knocked on the door and we all laughed.
On our last day, we went to the PalmHaus, a conservatory on the palace grounds that was filled with trees and shrubs and poinsettias and orchids and cyclamens, and we even saw a squirrel running around in there.
My map of our tour The blue markers are approximately where our boat docked at each town. The green markers are other points of interest.