My First Riverboat Trip . . .
Having been on a lot of cruises I was apprehensive about a riverboat experience. The size of the vessel is much smaller, and there appeared to be less to do each day. Well, I couldn’t be more wrong. The boat is far more luxurious than an ocean-going ship, and gliding along the river is smooth. Because we are in a river, there is scenery every step of the way. We passed small villages, castles, ruins, churches on hillsides – and the most breathtaking scenery you can imagine.
Biking through the Wachau Valley
We had the opportunity to take a bike trip through the Wachau Valley (pronounced Vacow for those of us who don’t speak German). It is apricot season in Austria, and the Wachau region is famous for its many products made with apricots. We literally rode through the vineyards and apricot orchards for three hours. Everywhere I looked was another green hillside covered in grapes or apricots. Halfway through the ride we stopped in Krems and had a quick cappuccino before riding back to the riverboat.
But, since it was apricot season . . . we made a stop in the Bailoni headquarters and made a few purchases (okay, we bought our weight in apricot jam and liqueur. So much so that I am unsure how we will fit it in the suitcase. Now, I have to admit that we were using ebikes, which means there is a small motor to help us up the hills. It’s not like a moped, but the bike adds a small kick of energy when you need it, so climbing hills isn’t daunting at all. All in all a wonderful excursion, with the small exception of when I was WALKING my bike and not paying attention, I managed to ram the pedal into my ankle!
Our next stop was in the small town of Melk, where we had a private tour of the big Abbey. I can only show photos from the outside, because they don’t allow cameras inside the abbey. But, the library was unbelievable. Thousands and thousands of books. Walls lined with books! I felt a bit like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
I love Salzburg. And I hate Salzburg. It is absolutely lovely. The Altestadt (old town) has lovely architecture, some of which dates back from 1280. Everywhere you look there is another Sound of Music location. For a big fan, such as myself, it is indescribable to see the fountain where Julie Andrews sang, or the Abbey where the nuns live. Now, the reason I say I hate Salzburg I s just because of the amount of tourists it attracts in the summer. My recommendation, unless you absolutely have to travel in the summer (like me), then wait until the fall. The streets are so charming, but they are teeming with people, cameras are clicking every ten seconds. And, unfortunately, something of Salzburg’s magic is lost.
This trip I took the funicular up to the top of the mountain, to HohenSalzburg. The view goes on for miles. In the background you can see the Alps, the Salz river winds its way out of sight, and the Salzburg Cathedral is a study in architecture.
Bavaria and the Bavarian Forest
Okay, first a confession. When I booked this tour I didn’t read that it was a drive and trip through the Bavarian Forest. I just assumed it was the Black Forest. They are completely different, and nowhere near each other. (And, I’ve been to the Black Forest!) Our trip took us through the national forest, to a glass blowing manufacturer. We had a lovely lunch in a Bavarian restaurant, and a walk along the tree tops, before a carriage ride through the countryside. Lovely, and exactly what you picture in your head about Bavaria.
And then there was some excitement . . . As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant parking lot one of the other passengers on our tour, a gentleman also from the US, talked the bus driver into letting him sit in the driver’s seat, and decided to take the bus for a spin around the block. Well, as you can imagine, this didn’t end well. Imagine if you will, the squeal of breaks, the crunch and squish of metal against metal and one of the bus’s hubcaps rolling down the hill. Yes, it’s true. He managed to plow the bus into the back of the car owned by the chef from the restaurant! There were four of us standing in the parking lot and all of us had the same look of horror on our faces. It was that mixture of shock, horror, and absolute embarrassment that another tourist would do something so stupid. Needless to say, after we got back to the riverboat I took to my cabin with a bottle of wine.
A bit long winded
Well, that’s me caught up again. We are sailing toward Bratislava and enjoying the river as it carries us along.