Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Making Up for Lost Time

Budapest, Hungary
This is a year of make-up travel for us. Because we stuck close to home for the first three years of Covid, we decided to take some trips in 2023. We recently returned from our first ever riverboat cruise, which was followed by travel on a larger ship on the Mediterranean Sea. There was a lot to love about both forms of transportation.

We flew from Charlotte to London on August 5th. This is the second long trip that we did with carryon luggage only. The South Africa trip made a believer out of me. No more hanging around the airport waiting for our bags to come off the carousel. And no more lost luggage! 

After a long layover (8 hours) we then flew from London to Budapest. We spent a couple days touring this beautiful city before it was time for our cruise. Budapest is a charming city, very clean with friendly residents and lots to see. I had heard that if I liked Prague, I would love Budapest. I have to say that while I enjoyed Budapest, I have found no city yet that compares to the storybook feel of Prague.


Avalon View
On August 9th we boarded the Avalon View, which was docked a short walk from our hotel. I was not familiar with this ship line, but it was the only one I could find that worked time-wise with the later cruise we were taking with our friends. It turned out to be a great selection, as the ship was new, and the staff and food were great. The stateroom was a generous size, with a large bathroom and the bed facing the sliding doors.

This was a short cruise on the Danube River from Budapest to Vienna, with stops in Bratislava, Slovakia and Melk, Austria. Not knowing if we would like river cruising, this was a perfect trip to get a feel for the experience.

Bratislava is a pretty town along the Danube. We did a walking tour of the area in the morning, and then hiked up to the castle after that. We had met a couple from Louisiana and another couple from California on the boat, and the six of us ended up spending a lot of time together. 

Bratislava, Slovakia

Our next stop was Melk, Austria. There were low-lying clouds in the area when we docked, and the setting was beautiful. We took a short bus ride to the town center for our tour of the palace and the town.

After the tour we had time to walk through Melk before making our way on a path through the woods back to the boat.  

Melk, Austria
This cruise ended in Vienna, where we had an opportunity to have one last dinner with our new friends before we all parted ways for our next adventures. We had an opportunity to see a bit of Vienna before it was time for us to fly to Rome. It's definitely an interesting city, and one I wouldn't mind spending more time in.
Vienna, Austria
We both very much enjoyed the intimacy and ease of river boat cruising, and it is definitely something we would consider again for future travel. With only 166 passengers on board, it was easy to meet the other folks at meals and on the excursions. I'll cover the next part of our journey on a 700 passenger ship in the next post.

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