Danube River Cruise/Prague, September 2014

Welcome to our Danube River Cruise/Prague Picture Blog....We had computer issues while on the River Cruise which resulted in poor internet connections as we meandered down the Danube from Passau to Budapest so we finished the blog at home. Please scroll down to the first day and read each day in sequence, September 1 to September 9. Thank You.     
Wayne  & Valerie Graczyk

September 8-9, 2014

We arrived in Prague and had a short stop on way from Passau in a beautiful little hotel with a restaurant to stretch our legs and grab a snack, then on the road where we all ate lunch in the heart of the city. Below is a photo of 10 of us eating our first meal in Prague. Prague has been given many names like, "The Magical City", "The Golden City", "The City of a Hundred Towers" and "Paris of the East". We continue to marvel at this old and beautiful city! Follow us along with pictures, in no particular order as we complete our visit to Prague and return to the U.S.

Our first meal in Prague. We stopped in and ate a delicious meal when we arrived, prior to checking into our hotel. Here pictured are Dave Peters, Bud Moore, Claire Moore, Sue Peters, Marsha Erickson with Bruce Mach, Libby Reinbold, Ann Muthig and Mary Walrath.

What a great view of St. Wenceslas Square, which is actually a long rectangle. We walked it to view some of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, if not the world. Shops of all varieties lines both sides.

Claire Moore & Valerie Graczyk toast to the great lunch and successful arrival in Prague.
The famous Astronomical Clock in Old Town Prague. It was made, at the latest, in 1410. The tower is equipped with two large dials. The upper is astronomical, the lower is a calendar dial. Both indicate the knowledge and skill of our ancestors. In addition, every hour the 12 Apostles rotate in the windows above the clock to the delight of watching. People line up in anticipation of their appearance 20-30 minutes ahead for this 30 second show.
We got hit by a tremendous thunderstorm but fortunately at the time we were climbing up the clock tower. Wayne captured these two pictures of nature at work.

 The majestic Church of Our lady of Tyn, with it's painted bell towers, taken from atop the clock tower 
Valerie, Pat, Debra, Gail & Mary Lee have dinner after the rain at a restaurant  immediately across from the Clock Tower. After dinner all 6 attended a concert in St Nicholas Church on the Old-Town Square and listened for an hour to Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi & Dvorak. It was out of this world! Similar concerts are held all around Prague in churches and other venues. If you love classical music, you will love Prague.

This is not on any Weight Watcher's menu, but it sure was good.

Part of our group inside the gates of the Prague Castle with the Prague Eiffel Tower in background.

Part of a band crossed the Palace  front.

The awe-inspiring spires of the Cathedral of St. Vitus.

From concerts to fresh fruit stands, Prague has a something for every one. 

Night pictures of Prague creates some beautiful results, like this picture of the Church of Our Lady of Tyn in Old Town, shown previously in the daylight.

Inside St Nicholas Church in Old Town Square. This is where the concert we attended was held.

Enjoying lunch in Prague. Wayne & Valerie counted 37 towers from their seats looking in one direction only.

The magnificent silver funerary monument to St. John of Nepomuk in the Catherdral of St. Vitus.

Claire & Bud Moore enjoying a lunch on a restaurant balcony over looking Prague.

Here you can see two of the apostles above the Astronomical Clock. When created in the 1400's moving pieces like this were almost a miracle and something you had to see to believe.

Pat, Ann, Bruce, Bud, Mary Jo, Mary, Mary Lee, Bugs, Gail, Sue, Claire and Valerie standing outside the Giants' Gate outside the Prague Castle. We had just watched the hourly changing of the guard (below). The gate's name is derived from the gigantic figures with dominate the pillars at the entrance.
Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle. It was interesting that in the changing of the guards at the Vatican, in Monte Carlo and in Athens, the soldiers were silent and unmoving, even their eyes. Here the soldiers were silent and unmoving, except for their eyes which was definitely unique, giving them a warmer personality.
Lunch on a balcony in Prague, after viewing Prague Castle. Sue/Dave Peters, Mary Jo Keating &
Claire Moore....the Sisters Act!
The main façade of the Cathedral of St. Vitus

Old-Town Prague comes to life every night!

Pat Baudendistel and Debra Walter showing off their desserts in Old Town Prague

Bruce & Ann Muthig with beautiful Prague in background 

Cars are notorious for being small in Europe but this one might be the smallest we've seen.

Pat, Mary Ann, Valerie & Mary in front of the statue on the Charles Bridge, "Christ between Saints Cosmas and Damian. There are 15 statues on each side of the bridge as you cross over. 
When you get tired of walking you find alternative ways to get to the Charles Bridge and the ship loading area.

Tourists, street artists and musicians enliven the Charles Bridge.

Floating under the beautiful Charles Bridge on a one hour boat ride on the Vltava River, also called the Moldau.

Tom Hall, MaryWalrath, Ann & Bruce Muthig taking a break after visiting the Prague Castle and walking to and over the Charles Bridge.


September 7, 2014

Our final day on the River Cruise portion of our adventure will be sad because we will be departing the laughter and relaxed environment of the Amadeus Diamond. However, we are also happy since we still have all afternoon on the cruise ship as it heads back to Passau then on to Prague by bus.

We did have an excellent excursion this morning.  This morning we all traveled to Melk in the region of Wachau and finished with a wine tasting experience, which was great....but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Our group in front of the Melk Abbey

The Melk Abbey is still a very active monastery with seven courtyards, a museum of fantastic relics and was once even a boarding school, but is now a school and a church.  The school has about 930 students who each pay 87 euros per month tuition (about $120).

We entered the Monastery between two powerful bastions and into one of the courtyards.  We visited their exquisite museum and their two libraries - one with books dating back to the 15th-16th century holding over 9,000 books, the other with only 7,000 books dating back to the 19th and 20th century. The church itself was almost overwhelming as you will see in the pictures below.

A  very long and deep Imperial Staircase leads Mary Jo and Valerie down to the church.
The design was elegant and almost breathtaking with the gold, orange, ocher, gray and green colors combine to create a symphony of color and form. 
The church in the Melk Abbey.
A view from the back of the church
The Melk Cross. Margrave Adalbert (1018-1056) is said to have brought a piece of the Cross of Christ to Melk and it was embedded inside the cross.
Mary Jo and Mary Lee inside one of the ornate rooms within the Abbey
Marsha, Gail and Pat in the Abbey

After departing the Abbey, we traveled to what is maybe the smallest town in Austria, Duernstein, one of the best known wine villages in the Wachau and one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Wachau region.  A year and a half ago it flooded and cut the town and townspeople off from surrounding communities for about 2 days.

We walked along the Danube to get to the small town, Durnstein.  The name of the road was Treppelweg, or a towpath, a road  on the bank of a river or canal.  In times past horses would walk along the Treppelweg and pull boats up the river.  The road, of course, was dirt and sand and the trees weren't there in those times!

When the Danube (on left, two photos above) overflowed, it rose above where the group is standing, in fact about 5 or 6 feet higher then their heads.  Our guide stood above them showing the high water marks of last floods. This one was the second worst in history.

This was the ferry taking people across the Danube.
The current is about 20+mph, so the boat must fight the current by going sideways and upstream..
We moved on from Durstein to a little wine & gift store for our closing stop, walking distance from our ship.  We returned to our ship for another "light" lunch, which included salads and hot menu items.  You'll never be hungry on the Amadeus Diamond!

Bud Moore observes the "punishment pole" in the town center of Duernstein.
Do something wrong and the whole town knows it!

Wine tasting at its finest.  Bruce and Ann Muthig, Mary Lee Summers and
our adopted couple from Japan: Kimiko & Masaak Yoneyama.  
 Excursions were either in English or Norwegian .  Kimiko and Masaak spoke a little English so they joined our tour group.  Whenever we said we wanted a picture of the "Someday Travel group", they just naturally joined us!  So, welcome Kimiko and Masaak to our group!

Kimiko & Masaak

Valerie & Wayne back on board and toasting the success of the trip.

Debra Walter and Pat Baudenistel

Lifting a glass to toast another great day are: Bud and Claire Moore, Bugs Johnson,
Bob and Sue Peters and Mary Jo Keating.
As we closed our cruise and looking forward to Prague, we still have an afternoon Tea-Coffee-Pastries to attend in the afternoon. We enjoyed a farewell cocktail social before the Captain's Gala Dinner in the evening followed by music and dancing....and a midnight snack!

Enjoying a lovely afternoon on the Danube River

Mary Jo and her sister, Sue, enjoying an afternoon on the Danube River.

So it will be from Prague that we extend our blog and our trip.

September 6, 2014

Vienna (2nd time)

Wow, what a wonderful day! Four days ago we had our first experience in Vienna and while fun, it was a bit rainy. But not today. We had sunshine with temperatures in the mid 70's - a great second welcome to our group. Traveler's have options on our trips, so today they could remain aboard the ship, take an optional tour to Schonbrunn Palace (see pics below) or tourVienna on their own. In the evening they also could add a trip to the Vienna Opera House which was fantastic (pics below)..

Entering one of 17 docks on that are constructed on the Danube. We went through about 11 of them. This is one we went through on our way to Vienna. Our ship fit snuggly into the lock.

Below: Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna. Valerie and I, along with 8 others chose the palace excursion and what an excellent choice. The Palace has 1400 rooms and was a destination site for aristocratics. It actually started as a hunting lodge, was destroyed and then was commissioned by Leopold to be rebuilt. into a Palace. Only the aristocrats could afford, or be invited, to go there.

Today the fabulous gardens are free and open to the public but their is an entrance fee into the Palace. We spent a wonderful afternoon at Schonbrunn Summer Palace in Vienna and it was an absolutely fantastic day - both weather and site visit wise.

Valerie, Gail Rollins, Mary Lee Summers, Bud Moore, Bugs Johnson (back)
Claire Moore, Mary Joe Keating, Bob & Sue Peters in the courtyard leading to the Palace.

Valerie standing near the entry gate of the palace.

The garden area is extensive and well worth walking thru them!

These are mazes and trees and orange groves, which are protected during the winter by Palm trees!

Below: A dream comes true for most: Going to the opera in the Vienna State Opera House. Bruce & Ann Muthig took time to get their picture taken as they walked up the drive (sorry for the poor picture but it does show both of them in front of the Opera House.

We were blessed to hear the Sound of Vienna, i.e. "Salonorchester Alt Wien". Excellent music, ballet & singing. To mention only a few we were entertained to such musical pieces as Mozart's  "A Little Night Music" & "Overture zur Opera", "Le nozze fi Fugaro" and concluding with everybody's favorite "On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz" by Johann Strauss.  It would be hard to find a finer closing to our Vienna visit.

Pat Baudendistel & Sr. Debra Walter on the way to their seats
Bruce was ever ready with his camera and Libby, who is an accomplished singer, certainly enjoyed the experience.

Gail Robbins & Marsha Erickson were all smiles in anticipation of the start of the concert.
The music hall prior to the concert.
Tom Hall & Mary Walwrath were ready as can be and
afterwards shared their appreciation for the great concert.
Mary Lee Summers taking a picture before the concert. 
Our adopted Japanese couple, dressed for the occasion,  They traveled with us on our bus excursions as you will hear more about as we travel along.
While photos were not allowed during the performance we got some shots during the several encors.
It was a very electric evening!
Some other interesting parts of our tour, gleaned mostly from our educated and English speaking guides, were things like Mozart began playing the violin at age 3, came to Vienna at age 12, left at 17, returned at 25 years of age and died at age 35. He began to compose at age 5 and continued to compose up to his death. We learned that the waltz was considered by many (probably the elders) to be erotic because the dancers actually were close enough to kiss, etc!

September 5, 2014

An excursion took 15 of our group to Szentendre, Visgrad and Esztergom.

Our first stop was Szentendre, known for its museums, galleries and artists. It was considered the center of the Hungarian Serb community.

Mary Jo and Bugs stopped for a picture along the many cobblestone streets. We even captured Bruce Mach taking one of his many, many pictures. He told us that on his last trip he took over 3000 pictures.

Valerie in front of some beautiful and artistic plates, where we could take pictures and not have to purchase....nice touch.

An interesting side street. The plants pictured have a story. It is believed that a person can place a plant in front of a home with a wish attached to it. They then leave it and the owner of the property is responsible for caring for it. As long as the plant survives the wish is still "active" and can still come true.

A tributary of the Danube runs right past the village. There is a beautiful walking/bike path running along the river. We love biking so Valerie had to pose for the picture.
Our Someday Travel trips are noted for its pictures as well as its stories. Enjoy as our travelers enjoyed themselves in Szentendre.

How about Bruce eating lavender ice cream in front of the Lavender shop?

Dave and Sue having done a little shopping of their own.

Gail Rollins in her "Sunshine Top" and Marsha Erickson, caught enjoying everyone's favorite snack...ice cream!

Bud and Claire Moore found the spot and it was so good it was duplicated by others.

Mary Jo Keating and Bugs Johnson

Mary Lee Summers

Dave and Sue Peters

We departed Szentendre and meandered along the Danube to the Palace of Visegrad, one of the most splendid and luxurious palaces in Hungary. It was a steep climb to the top but well worth the view and the Palace.

The top of the steep climb brought us to the remains of the Palace at Visegrad.

Bruce Mach was the  first to make the climb and waved us on up.

Dave and Sue Peters on the long climb up to the top.

Inside the palace was a model of the palace as it once stood. The bottom was about where the parking lot is today with the palace at the top.


The Danube River seen from the Palace heights. We were waiting for our cruise ship to pass by (arranged by the cruise ship personnel). Our excursion travelers had left the ship in Budapest and joined up at end of the excursion from Szentendre to Esztergom. 


Using a telephoto lens, we captured our ship passing below.

The bus traveled along the Danube river hoping to beat it to a point on shore where we could capture more pictures of our ship, only from ground level...and we made it! Some aren't so lucky.

The Amadeus Diamond in all its glory and might.

As we re-boarded the ship and continued our travel along the Danube, we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

September 4, 2014  


We docked today for a 2 day adventure. Here was our initial view of Budapest from the cruise ship!

Parliament of Budapest

Our great group of travelers in Buda with The Matthias Church in  background

Valerie & Wayne outside Matthias Church

The Parliament, the largest and most known building in Hungary, and symbol of Budapest, on evening cruise
Liberty Bridge, one of the nine bridges between Buda and Pest

We crossed the Danube from Pest into Buda.  Many people in the US don't realize that Budapest is actually two cities.  A revelation to us was the topography differences between the two.  Pest is very flat while Buda is extremely hilly.  Buda is more historical while Pest is more commercial according to our guide. You cross the bridge from Pest to Buda and almost immediately encounter steep hills.Very interesting!

Here we have just crossed the Liberty Bridge from Pest into Buda.

September 3, 2014


In the morning we all took a city tour of Bratislava along with 5 others mixed in with our gregarious group. We viewed & walked in and around the Bratislava Castle, St Martin's Cathedral plus enjoyed the Main Square including the Michael's Gate which is all that is left of the wall that once stood proudly to defend the city from its enemies.

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and has fewer than a half million people. They say it might be the most relaxed city in Europe because of the old-town charm with sophisticated restaurants, traditional pubs with a wide variety of music which equates to not needing to spend your day getting in & out of underground stations, etc.

Valerie & Wayne took the lift to the observation deck built high above "The New Bridge". Don't let the name confuse you. It is not new nor is it the newest. It is the second oldest but is the longest bridge in the world with one pylon & one cable-stayed plane.

Our travelers had free time or went on the "Night in Vienna" tour when the city tour was completed. Those of us not going were disappointed and wished we had made the decision to go.
 The two photos below show our main culprits in the "interview" about the "Night in Vienna" tour conducted by Mary Jo Keating with Bugs in rear and Ann/Bruce Muthig. 

This is what Mary Jo wrote verbatim after experiencing the excursion "Night Tour in Vienna" in its entirety:

"Loved it!"
"Liked it a lot!"
"Had fun, laughed & sang!"
"Good wine & music."
"Bread & salad spreads SO good (cheese & meat)"
"The songs sang a lot with the violinist and accordion players."
"The ambiance & setting was so good...and pubby...old world & taverny."
Bruce "Awesome"
Ann "Liked sitting next to Bruce"
"A blast!"

That was it but others had memories that hopefully he will share about Mozart and other quick points. The excursions were optional so I cannot comment. 

It is difficult to imagine that Bratislava is only about 25 years (1989) removed from breaking from the grips of the Soviet Union. Most of the buildings in the city center were renovated & businesses are similar to what you would find elsewhere in Western Europe. It is a beautiful city  but alas, time didn't allow us to see enough of it.

Valerie playing chess on the sun deck of our Cruise Ship docked in Bratislava
Relaxing on the sun deck on Bratislava.
Mary Lee Summers, Marsha Erickson. Gail Rollins
Bruce Mach & Libby Reinbold about to get on our "red train" for our city tour of Bratislava

Pat Baudenistel, Debra Walter & Libby Reinbold

Claire Moore, Sue & Dave Peters

Mary Lee Summers, Bruce & Ann Muthig, Valerie Graczyk

Mary Walwrath

We head for Budapest tomorrow so make it a point to travel with us.

September 1 & 2, 2014

The cruise ship Amadeus Diamond is lovely and loved by all of us but those amenities do not overcome the fact that internet connections do not match them in any way.  Therefore our photo blog will become a written one with my daughter in Minnesota entering what I send her on my iPhone. For this we apologize. We also have a Notebook computer that is not cooperating which further complicates the situation.

We landed on a light rain in Munich Germany on Monday, September 1. It was raining but didn't dampen the spirits of our wonderful travelers. We were transferred to Passau on a shuttle and arrived a couple of hours prior to our departure on the "infamous" Blue Danube River.

After settling into our new surroundings aboard ship, travelers either explored the highlights of the ship or just relaxed. While we had not totally slept for over 15 hours, catching some sleep on the plane helped.  We had the traditional Captain's welcome social hour followed by a scrumptious 4 course welcome dinner. The conversation at the dinner table, and hospitality of the ship's staff, made the 2 1/2 hour dinner fly past and made us forget our tiredness of the long first day.

Our ship, the Amadeus Diamond
The temperatures dropped and light rain continued throughout the night as we slept and the cruise ship meandered on its way to Vienna. Waking for a hot and very satisfying breakfast on September 2 the morning was spent virtually wrapped in the comfort of the ship's warmth. The surrounding countryside along the banks were beautiful even in the rain. We had a wonderful presentation on the history of the Danube River.  We learned that the Danube is the only European river that flows west to east and that it has 17 locks which make ship travel possible for the length of the river.  Our presenter also shared that we shouldn't worry about the ship sinking.  She said simply "go to the top of the ship and have a drink, since the majority of the river isn't as deep as the ship is high"!  Pictures and snipets of the presentation will be added after the trip, or if internet connections and reception improve before SO STAY with the blog over the next 8 days.

Arriving in the beautiful city of Vienna we all ventured on a 3 hour bus tour of the city plus a couple of stops for personal walking. While it did drizzle during the excursion we viewed all with the knowledge that our journey would bring us back to Vienna in a few days with high expectations of sunshine. Most will be attending a concert on the Vienna Concert Hall when we return and are looking forward to this unique experience. Here are a few photos of our time in Vienna that we were able to send via text message.

The Hundertwasser-Krawina House Vienna. Like an enchanted fairytale castle surrounded by conventional architecture, the Hundertwass-Krawina House arises out of the grey, monotonous surroundings of suburban Vienna. The artist, Friedensreich Hunderwasser says, "The straight line is ungodly" which we could clearly see in his work. 

Sue Peters in front of a sign indicating the birthplace of Mozart, the famous composer

Our first day in Vienna found rain which did not damper our spirits.

After our return to the ship we enjoyed a 2nd excellent meal. About half of our group took a second excursion to see The Lights of Vienna.

We will be docking in Bratislava, Slovakia on September 3 with sunshine and predicted temperatures in upper 70's if the prognosticators are right and that certainly sounds good to us. More on the excursion tonight and our journey and exploration of Bratislava tomorrow.

August 16, 2014

Hello Everyone. We are soon to depart for this wonderful trip. Please follow along beginning on September 1.

Valerie & Wayne

Valerie Graczyk in Prague on a previous trip

Valerie on an excursion boat with the famous Charles Bridge in background on a previous trip.

1 comment:

  1. Wayne, thanks for documenting our fabulous trip so well. We had a blast!!