Two days in Budapest + Danube River trip from Budapest to Passau, Germany
  • Day10

    Departing Deutschland

    April 7, 2019 in Austria ⋅ 🌙 3 °C

    We awoke on the Danube still in Austria (despite last night’s shipboard farewell to Austria festivities of weiner schnitzel, grüner veltliner, and a Sound of Music singalong) and 25km downriver of Passau, Germany, our intended disembarkation point. So we had a little longer bus ride to the Munich airport (by just about 20 mins or so) and earlier departure than originally planned.

    But the countryside was scenic, the ride swift, and the Munich airport pleasant and a good spot to pick up a few Rhine valley dry rieslings duty free in the Euro-zone. An uneventful flight from Munich fed us into the madness of customs and baggage rechecking in Chicago, and the further madness of a snaking, Space Mountain opening at Disneyland-type line for the shuttle from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1. But we survived that nearly 2-hr total ordeal and are now chillaxing in the United Club for the rest of our 5-hour layover before the final 4-hour hop from Chi-town to Boise.
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    Victoria Thompson

    Koina is waiting for you!

    Karen Boss

    What a great trip!

  • Day9

    Mauthausen Concentration Camp & Memorial

    April 6, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    Less than 30 minutes from Linz, in the rolling agricultural lands above the Danube and with sightlines to the majestic and still snow-covered Alps in the distance, is the site of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp that was operated by the Nazi SS from 1938 to 1945, when it was liberated by advancing U. S. troops from 11th Armored Division of the U.S. 3d Army. Today it is preserved and operated as an interpretive site and memorial, with both exhibition and teaching/learning spaces, and a memorial park area where monuments from the various nations whose nationals were interred and killed or died there are recognized.

    In all, more than 90,000 perished at Mauthausen and its sub-camps from 1938-45. It was not on the scale of Auschwitz or Treblinka, but no less horrendous. There was a gas chamber eventually developed at Mauthausen, and crematoria, echoing on a smaller scale the implementation of the Nazis’ “final solution” found at an even greater level at the other larger “death camps.” Mauthausen was a work camp. First in a granite quarry for stone for buildings and monuments for the Third Reich (and for the construction of the camp itself), and later in small arms manufacturing and other measures to support the Nazi war effort. Despite the mechanisms of mass murder found at Mauthausen, the vast majority of deaths there came from the deplorable living and working conditions, lack of adequate food and medical care, and arbitrary violence used to intimidate and subjugate the prisoner population, including summary execution (for offenses as petty as showing up without one’s prison uniform cap for roll call), hangings, and shootings.

    It is a most sobering visit, in a place of otherwise incongruous pastoral beauty. But a noteworthy effort by the Austrian authorities and the enterprise now running the camp grounds, memorial, and exhibits to remember and interpret this very troubled time in human history.

    Among the notable detainees at Mauthausen was Simon Wiesenthal, who after his liberation and the war became a renowned Nazi hunter and advocate for justice for those involved in perpetuating the atrocities and war crimes that occurred during the Holocaust.

    Of the over 90,000 who perished at Mauthausen, the names of more than 81,000 have been documented. In the Room of Names, housed where thousands were murdered and their bodies disposed of, is a list of those names illuminated by light, as well as hard-copy loose-leaf books with alphabetical listings. We observed the pages in the listings of the Feldmans and Handmachers, our family names, to see and remember how many of those landsmen were victims of the Shoah.
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    Karen Boss

    If traveling doesn't startle and change us it is not worthwhile. Glad you have had a powerful experience.

  • Day9


    April 6, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Linz, in imperial times, was the sometimes secure location for the Habsburg clan when or I f there was trouble or dissent in Vienna. Today it is Austria’s third largest city, with industries including education, steel (supported by large iron ore deposits in the nearby mountains), and chemicals.

    Our visit included a tour of the old town area and central market, a tram ride across Danube and uphill for a sweeping panorama view of the city and region, and enjoying a final night and sunset on the Blue Danube.
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  • Day8

    Creme de la Krems

    April 5, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    If it’s Friday morning, it must be Krems, where we arrived after an overnight sail from Vienna. Depending on how you look at it (upstream or downstream), Krems is either the gateway to the scenic Wachau Valley region, an extensive vinicultural and fruit growing (especially apricots) area, or looking downstream (not our direction on this trip) Krems marks the point where the Danube leaves the Wachau Valley.

    Regardless, Krems is a river town. Think like Hood River, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge perhaps, except it’s been around since at least 995 AD and has a population of 25,000. We explored its old main cobblestone thoroughfare through a preserved gate to the city, had a chocolate making demonstration and sachertorte tasting at the Hagmann cafe and konditorei, and then browsed some of the shops for schnapps (for real) and apricot likor. Also found a little street market with vendors selling everything from pussy willows (used as part of Easter observances by some) to challah (yes, from a mobile bakery truck). Then back to the ship for a topside lunch and our own sail up the Wachau Valley where the weather held out for us until we reached our afternoon destination of Melk (more on both the Wachau and Melk in the next footprints) where we had a brief afternoon shower clearing to a most pleasant Danube sunset when we were “underway” again as our sailor son would say. “Tschuss” as the locals say colloquially, as in “bye” or “see ya,” less formal than “goodbye” or “auf wiedersehn.”
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  • Day7

    Imperial Vienna--DIY edition

    April 4, 2019 in Austria ⋅ 🌬 16 °C

    Today we ventured into the heart of Vienna more or less on our own. A little shopping at the Heindl confectionary and the Julius Meini deli (such a lox collection) and store, then a tour of the Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments at Hofburg Palace. Next a classic Viennese lunch at Cafe Landtmann by Rathaus Park with schnitzel, melange, and finest kind apple strudel. Then came the 2km+ cross-town trek to get Nancy to the Wien Bridge Club on time for the afternoon game today. After several twists and turns, a disoriented maps app, and a couple of stops to ask directions, the club building magically appeared before us and Nancy made her game to add another club to her international bridge collection.Read more

  • Day6

    Imperial Vienna--Arts & Music edition

    April 3, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    For a Baroque style evening and wanting to party like they used to in the guest palace (because really, who wants the guests in your own palace) of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), we travelled to Upper Belvedere Palace for first a guided tour of the Gustav Klimt art there (think Lady in Gold, although while she does not adorn the walls there The Kiss and many other Klimt works do) and then a private one-hour ensemble concert program of Mozart and Strauss including operatic duets and a few ballet pas de deuxes in the Marble Hall. Beats cable.Read more

    Victoria Thompson

    Ahhhhh. So jelly! Love, love, love Mr. Klimt.

  • Day6

    Imperial Vienna--Summer Edition

    April 3, 2019 in Austria ⋅ 🌬 18 °C

    Why stay in central Vienna in the heat (and smells) of summer when you can retreat to your hunting estate on the edge of the city and construct a 1,441 room palace there inspired by, if not modeled after, Versailles. This was life for the Habsburg clan. And the background for our visit to Schönbrunn Palace and tour of the imperial apartments there looking for decorating ideas for our own Hayseed Palace, as it will now be referred to.Read more

  • Day5

    Bratislava, Slovakia

    April 2, 2019 in Slovakia ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Fascinating afternoon in the current capital (since 1993) of Slovakia, which city was also the capital of Habsburg-era Hungary from ~1526 until 1784. Among other sites on this unique and historical stretch of the Danube are a growing modern city of over 426,000 (with over 100,000 university students), and a military cemetery where many of the Red Army liberators of Bratislava in 1945 rest (and as our guide joked, the Soviets apparently forgot that they liberated Bratislava in 1945 because they and other Warsaw Pact nations brought tanks to do it again in 1968 following the Prague Spring). Other sights included Old City Hall, St. Michael’s tower, the Bratislava Hrad or castle (now adjacent to the national assembly (legislature) building), the Slovenske filharmonia (Slovakian National Philharmonic) building, and finishing with a tasting of Slovakian beers (and pretzels) at the Beer Palace pub. Na zdravie! (which is Slovak too—not just Russian [which is spelled slightly differently in the transliteration]—for “to your health,” or more colloquially “cheers”).Read more

    Victoria Thompson

    Gorgeous. Fairytale land!

  • Day4

    Final Evening in Budapest

    April 1, 2019 in Hungary ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Our final evening in Budapest marked with sunset and beverages topside, and then a scenic dinner sailing up and down the Danube within Budapest for one last look, at night, of the many landmarks and cultural and heritage sights, including Parliament, Chain Bridge, Franz Joseph Bridge, Liberty Statue, Royal Palace, Matthias Church, and more, before finally setting a course upriver for Bratislava via an overnight and morning sailing.Read more

    Joe Colletti

    Lovely! If I had to choose between seeing Venice or Budapest again, Budapest would win hands down. So awesome you're getting to experience it!!