Vienna is stunning

Today was the last day of my Uniworld cruise and I spent it in Vienna. I have been very well treated on board the River Duchess and I would like to give a big shout out to the amazing staff. The food delicious, the itinerary is interesting, the logistics are seamless and my room is comfortable.

I wasn’t expecting to like Vienna because it is a large city, but it’s simply stunning. Around every corner in the old town is another imposing and gorgeous building. My photos do not do it justice – I encourage you to visit for yourself.

Vienna

Vienna

Statue

Statue in Vienna

Town hall

Town hall

Schönbrunn Palace

Back of Schönbrunn Palace

 

 

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Durnstein, one of the smallest towns in Austria

This morning we were late arriving in Durnstein because the temperature went down to -20 degrees last night and that caused us to be late going through a lock. But it was okay that our time in Durnstein was cut short, because it is such a tiny town that we had more than enough time to explore it on this chilly morning.

We set sail for Vienna in about half an hour. It’s hard to believe I’ll be headed back to my real life the day after tomorrow.

Breakfast

What I chose for breakfast – the food on this ship is very good.

Deborah and Valentin

The staff on this boat is amazing. Our waiter, Valentin of Romania, is fun and nice.

Durnstein

Durnstein, as seen from the boat

House in Durnstein

House in Durnstein

Street in Durnstein

Street in Durnstein

Entrance to monastery

Entrance to monastery

Carved figure at monastery gate

Carved figure at monastery gate

Side street in Durnstein

Side street in Durnstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We’re in Austria! Steyer and Linz

This morning it was snowing and I appear to have earned some notoriety as a wacky Canadian by going on deck without a jacket to watch our progress through a lock.

We’re in Austria now and today we hit my favourite town so far: Steyer. It has a great mix of old architecture and charm, and it would be extremely difficult to get lost in the town.

Our tour guide recommended the holiday ornaments museum, which contains a strange little ride that I could have done without as I think it was both boring and tacky. But walking through the town is beautiful and the local cider is tasty.

We got back to Linz at night. There’s nothing wrong with Linz if you like clean cities, but as it is a city it doesn’t possess the charm I’m seeking on this trip.

Progressing through a lock

Progressing through a lock

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Steyer

Linz Christmas market

Linz Christmas market

Linz street

Linz street

Linz and Danube

Linz and Danube

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Each town is cuter than the last – meet Passau

Yesterday the River Duchess took us to Passau and on the way, we stopped for a horse-and-carriage ride in the Bavarian Forest. The sun came out and we sang Christmas carols – it was fun. The matriarch of the family that hosted us baked some delicious bread that we ate hot, straight from her outdoor stone oven.

We also toured a glass factory and museum, then headed to Passau. Our tour guide used her connections to get us into the beautiful town hall, after which some of my fellow passengers and I found a restaurant in town, where I had the best goulash I’ve ever eaten.

Carriage ride in Bayern

Carriage ride in Bayern

Hot bread from an outdoor stone oven

Hot bread from an outdoor stone oven

Glass factory

Glass factory

Town hall interior, Passau

Town hall interior, Passau

Street in Passau

Street in Passau

Building in Passau

Building in Passau – I think it’s the Bishop’s Palace.

The tour guides we’ve had each day have been very informative and the organization of the tours has been superb. So far I would highly recommend Uniworld cruises.

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Regensburg and Roman arches

I like Regensburg (pronounced Ray’-genz-berg). It survived WWII intact so, unlike Nuremberg, its medieval buildings are truly old. Here are some of the sights I saw today.

Old Roman archway

Old Roman archway

Regensburg from Old Stone Bridge

Regensburg from Old Stone Bridge

Regensburg waterfront

Regensburg waterfront

Street in Regensburg

Street in Regensburg

Cathedral entrance

Cathedral entrance

Cathedral windows

Cathedral windows

Deborah in front of the River Duchess

Deborah in front of the River Duchess

Regensburg street

Regensburg street

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Surrounded by sausages

When my friends dared me to name my blog Debbie Does Danube, and to call my first post ‘Surrounded by sausages,’ I don’t think they believed I would really do it. But in fact, it’s perfect for the theme of this post.

I’ve just completed a two-week tour of northern Uganda and arrived in Germany only three days ago. I’ve been in Munich and now I’m on a riverboat in Nuremberg. Tomorrow we leave for a week-long trip to Vienna, stopping at German and Austrian towns and holiday markets along the way.

When planning this trip I was inspired by the holiday episode of Rick Steves’ Europe, which features the Nuremberg Christmas Market. Because it rains in the winter in Vancouver, where I live, I expected to be thoroughly charmed and prepped for Christmas in a way that I haven’t been since leaving my snowy hometown of Montreal half my life ago. Instead, I find that I’m surrounded by sausages and a little disillusioned. Germany is almost a caricature of Germany, with beer halls, bread and bratwurst everywhere.

Maybe it’s because I’ve traded 32 degrees for -7 degrees; as I write this from my stateroom on board the River Duchess, there is a snowstorm in Nuremberg. But more likely it’s because I’ve just spent two weeks interviewing poor Ugandan farmers, using pit toilets and being conscious of not wasting anything. When I think of the living situation of some of the Ugandans I’ve met, our western excess is a little depressing.

To be fair, I expected pre-Christmastime in Germany to be lovely and to a certain extent it has met my expectations. But I was unprepared for the over-abundance of everything I see and I find it all too much. Check out these pictures to see what I mean.

Ornaments at Munich Christmas market

Ornaments at Munich Christmas market

Lights at Munich Christmas market

Lights at Munich Christmas market

Cakes at Munich Christmas market

Cakes at Munich Christmas market

Candles at Munich Christmas market

Candles at Munich Christmas market

Ornaments at Munich Christmas market

Ornaments at Munich Christmas market

Steins at Munich Christmas market

Steins at Munich Christmas market

Candle holders at Munich Christmas market

Candle holders at Munich Christmas market

Candies at train station in Munich

Candies at train station in Munich

Sausages in Munich

Sausages in Munich

Wigs in Munich

Wigs in Munich

I’m not going to whine my way along the Danube – I’m fortunate to be on this vacation and I’ll make the most of it. For instance, today I enjoyed an historical tour of Nuremberg. The staff on this Uniworld boat is amazing, and I’ve met some nice people. (Most of the people on this boat are at least 20 years older than I am but we’ve had some good conversations. I’ve met Frank, Sharon, Tom, Edna, Dorothy and Dolly so far.) And I’ve been invited to dinner at the captain’s table this evening, which should be nice.

But honestly? If I could turn back the clock to a week ago today in Uganda, I’d do so in a heartbeat.

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