Without free wifi in our room, being able to log in and download pictures from the free hotspot has been a challenge!
As you can see, we survived our 5 hour bus ride to Prague (which included another stop at the Christmas market and a pitstop at a McDonalds). The Hilton Prague Old Town is centrally located. The first night, we ventured off on our own for dinner at Plzenska restaurace Obecni dum. The restaurant was in the basement of the opera house and we all had Pilsner Urkel beer and I had pork schnitzel and the guys had goulash. Great dinner was had by all.
Our tour was a bus ride to the top of the highest “mountain” in Prague which brought us to the palace and cathedral. We learned a lot of history of the area. It was freakin cold up there, that is for dang sure! After watching the changing of the guard, we started our walk down the steep cobblestone streets. The buildings were beautiful. Once at the bottom, we crossed The Charles Bridge, which is now a pedestrian bridge, and ended up in the town center/square. Guess what…..there was another Christmas market there!!!! After lunch, we shopped ( I know, big surprise there), and then finally back to rest those weary feet!
One last trek out for a quick dinner and I was done for the night.
We have tons of pictures but because of the wifi issue, just not easily downloaded. I am hoping to get some sort of album put together for Facebook once we get home.
So, off I go to pack up to be ready to change hotels one last time in the morning. We are staying at the Courtyard Marriott Prague Airport which is connected in between terminal one and two. So we are hanging out at the airport until our flight Saturday morning. I think it will be cool to hang out watching the planes. Oh, and repack ing one last time all of our stuff into the checked bags so we can bring our goodies home in the carry on!
More from the airport…….
Today was our full day of touring the center of Salzburg. We started the day off with a 1.5 hour bus ride. Half way through, we made a stop at Mundtsee ( Moon Lake) absolutely beautiful! An amazing lake in the valley of snow capped mountains. Once we got to the city of Salzburg, we began our 75 minute walking tour. I have to confess that I did take the “gentle” walking tour today. We did the same tour as the other group, just at an easier pace. Our guide Barbara, was awesome! So much information and history as well as personal stories. After meeting back up with the guys, I started sharing some of my new found knowledge and soon realized that I defintitely had the better tour guide :o). We then had 3 hours on our own to explore the city center, which had tons of stores (Ben was very thankful that many were closed because it was Sunday) and of course the Christmas market. This one was fairly big and just a few thousand of my closest European friends decided to join me! Along with a few trinkets, we partook of some gluhwine, a popular cheese bread thingy….can’t remember the name but it was rye bread with this amazing hot melted cheese and bacon on top….how could you go wrong with this?? Then we had a 2 hour bus ride back to the boat, which had moved on to Passau. Tomorrow we have Regensburg. Until then………
This morning I was up early so I’ve been killing time and reflecting on our travels. As dawn approached and the light was enough to see the shore I see that we are passing thru hills and apparently wine country as there are many vineyard terraces on the hillsides. We have another cold day and all the little villages we pass are covered with snow. I think about the people in the homes probably sleeping in on a Saturday morning and wonder what they do, who they are, and what are their dreams. Traveling does that to me – makes me wonder. I am reminded that no matter where we are, no matter what language we speak, we share common desires and goals – to enjoy our friends and family and live long, happy lives. I hope you will find a way to do that in your life.
Our internet is slow on the boat – especially as we cruise, so I will try to post a picture or two, but may not be able. The snow on the trees makes for good pictures, but it is cold and dreary looking outside my window – I’m ready for a warm vacation!
A little bit of a rewind….. Yesterday the guys went on the city tour of Budapest. Since I was trying to fight of this cold, I decided to pass and stay onboard where it’s warm! They seemed to enjoy the day and came back with a little bit of history. After dinner, everyone met in the lounge and we learned of different Christmas customs, decorated Christmas trees, and drank gluhwine! Went through the first of like 30 locks on the Danube and then set our shoes out for St Nickolass(spelling maybe off here)
This morning we awoke to chocolates and coins in our shoes! I guess we may the good boys and girls list :0). Finally made it to our dock in Vienna, the gates on the lock got stuck so we were a little behind. Again, I have opted to stay onboard this morning and by pass the city tour and will be taking the palace tour this afternoon. Rotten timing for this cold to show up but it is what is……
As you may be able to tell from the picture, it is a little gray out….it is actually snowing and very pretty! Fingers crossed that it clears up a bit for this afternoon. We shall see. Pictures of the palace when we get back………
The AMA Prima on this cold and dreary day in Budapest. Not to worry, she was all decorated for Christmas on the inside as well as warm and inviting. I have to say, this was the easiest check in we have ever experienced in all of our cruising adventures. We had expresso and hot chocolate while waiting for lunch. Lunch was a delicious vegetable purée soup and finger sandwiches. Not long after we finished lunch, the cruise manager, Kriss, came and said our room was ready. We were then escorted to our cabin by Joseff, a very friendly fella! He explained everything in our room and brought in all our luggage. I have already run into the Captain and we haven’t even left the dock yet. Very impressive AMA Waterways! Tonight we have dinner in the specialty restaurant as we cruise the shores of the Danube and see the city of Budapest lit up at night. Looking forward to the next 7 days and sharing it all with you!
It appears as though I have been slacking on my posting duties! We made it to Budapest on Sunday afternoon. The train ride was fun and I believe many of you have seen the photos of Scott and I napping….. Just couldn’t help it! Once we got here, the Metro was working so the directions we had to the apartment weren’t helping much. So here we are, tourists in every sense of the word, lugging suitcases all over the place trying to figure out where the heck we need to be. NOTHING is marked! One wrong way trip on the tram, then getting on the right tram finding our stop, walking a block (still with our luggage) we find the apartment…..which is on the second floor. Didn’t realize there was a lift until AFTER we made it up there…… The apartment is a bit over the top in decor but pretty cool. Ben has pictures posted on Facebook if you’d like to see…..haven’t figured out how to post an album on here……
Monday was our food tour “A Taste of Hungary” with Barbara. She was awesome! We tried some herbal/medicinal liquor……tasted like medicine, several different kinds so sausage (beef tongue, horse meat, liver wurst and blood sausage). Yes, I tried them all and swallowed! I have to say, the beef tongue was pretty good, the horse meat one tasted like a mild Slim Jim and the blood sausage one will never pass these lips again! We had lunch with traditional Hungarian dishes and most were pretty tasty. Off to a chocolate shop, a bakery, and last Hungarian wine tasting.
Today, we ventured out on our own and yes, it seems we have mastered mass transit in Budapest. We selected stops that we’re not on our AMA Waterway tours. Off to St Matthias Church, St Stephens Basilica, Alexandra Bookstore/coffee house and the Hungarian Opera House we went. All were beyond beautiful and so much history. We had traditional hungarian food for lunch at a Christmas Market and I liked to froze my butt off!
I learned that that many people hear really don’t speak true Hungarian and many really do know English, they just don’t want you to know they know it. Not friendly sort of folks, but there are exceptions, like our wonderful tour guide Barbara and the very nice lady who helped me out at the pay restroom. The machine didn’t like my Hungarian 100 forint pieces, she put in her 200 forint piece, got a ticket to open the door and let me in and refused to let pay her back. The architecture is beautiful on both the Buda and Pest sides of the river and yet the cities see. So different. One being mostly flat, the Pest side, while Buda is hilly. We really could have spent several more days here exploring, but on to the next chapter………
Today was our day to go sightseeing on our own and we had a great time. I will see if I can get some more pictures posted of the last couple of days. I think Ben has been too tired at the end of the day to get too many up. We have done some walking, not to mention hiking a mountain or two, with a guide that was physically fit and in a hurry….Yea, that was fun! Even though I thought my lungs were going to burst and my heart jump out of my chest, the views were beyond amazing and I don’t think the pictures we took will do it justice.
There really are not many American tourists here and English, if spoken, is not easy to follow. However, we have managed fairly well so far and have only experienced the “eye roll” a few times!
Today we went to Marienplatz and the Christkindlmart (I think that is what is was called) Lots of stalls of food, gleuwein and trinkets along the way, as well as a few million people or so it seemed. We visited several churches that were amazing to see. Next we went to Tollwood, which was a festival or fair type thing. Again, lots of people.
Walking through the train station on our way back to the hotel, a cute old German man whistled out, waved and smiled at me. Nothing like getting hit on by an old German man…… Of course I was polite and waved back but continued walking with Ben right behind me! Cracked me up!
Tomorrow we have a 7.5 hour train ride into Budapest for the next leg of this trip. I think my feet will be happy for the rest!!
See ya in Budapest!