Linz, Austria (Day 4)

Another early start to the morning! Got up at 6:30, and showered, then headed to breakfast. Then it was time to meet up with our tour guide for our walking tour around Linz.

We started out in the town square, and then to the old town hall building which had a picture of the whole city on the floor. It was neat! We also went to a bakery that specializes in Linzer Torte, which comes from Linz. Then we went to a church, saw some of the places Mozart lived, and a neat wooden nativity scene at the parliament court yard.

At the home of the famous Linzer Torte!

Then we were on our own, so we checked out the Christmas markets and had some Gluvein. Also did some shopping and finally found me some boots – a few days late πŸ˜›

Had to be back on the boat since it was a sailing afternoon, so we headed back around 12:30 and boarded the boat. It was lunch time when we got on, so we headed to lunch. Enjoyed a long lunch, and then we headed to the lounge. Checked email and hung out in the lounge for awhile, until it was time for the baking demo. The baking demo was for a black forest cake, and they asked for a volunteer. No one was really stepping up, so I decided to do it.

They had pre-baked the cakes, so we were just assembling. First, they said I had to try what I was cooking with,so they handed me a shot of Kirsch cherry liquer. So I drank it!

Cheers!

Then we added syrup yto the cake with a brush, and the cake absorbed it all. Next, it was time to add the whipped cream layer! We made some lines with the cream, and then we added cherries in between the layers, and then whipped cream on top of the cherry layer. Then it was time for the next chocolate cake layer.

Concentrating on making the cake!

However, before starting the next layer, it was time for another shot! So had another Kirsch shot, and then added whipped cream and chocolate shavings on the top. I took a picture of each – can you tell which is mine?

Cake #2

Cake #1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Not sure why the numbers are out of order!)

After the baking demo, they did a tea service, so we stayed in the lounge for that. I ran downstairs to get uspme hot chocolate and ended up talking to a new friend, Mike and his wife Angel. We’d been making small talk, but finally introduced ourselves and started chatting. They joined us for happy hour, and we had a great time. Then we all headed to dinner together. We had a great time hanging out with them, they’re close to our age, and fun to hang out with.

After dinner, there was some Bavarian entertainment in the lounge, so we headed over for that. It was fun! Lots of polka-ish music, and they played edelweiss at the end, which was nice. Then we had docked in Passau, so we decided to venture out, with the directions from our cruise director, who grew up close to Passau. Found the bar quite easily, and headed in to grab a table, only to hear someone call Dave’s name! It was our Aussie friends, Karen and Paul. They’d apparently been out and about in Passau the minute we docked, lol. So we had a pint with them, and enjoyed a fun evening out.

 

Durnstein, Austria (Day 3)

Woke up this morning after a wonderful night of sleep. We headed to breakfast and had eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, etc. Yum to bacon! It was dee-lish. We also sat with some of our new friends, who became our breakfast companions on the ship, we always ended up eating our morning meal together!

After breakfast, we headed out on a walking tour to the small town of Durnstein. It was so lovely (but freezing)! We walked through a gorgeous abbey, that had skeletons that were some of the saints. It was a gift to them from the Romans. Our tour guide also took us to the balcony that overlooks the Danube, and it was really lovely!

This is the view from the balcony of the church - that's the town across from Durnstein. (Not sure what its called!)

After that, we walked to the one and only main road in the town. So cute right? A nice woman was waiting for us with some gluwhein made from white wine, yum! It really helped to warm us up!

The main (and only) road in Durnstein!

Then we were free to shop and explore! It was early, so a lot of shops weren’t open, but we went to the few that were. One was this neat store where she took stones from the Danube, sanded them down flat, and turned it into jewelry! It was really pretty and I bought a few things from her.

Dave wanted to head up to the ruins of the castle, but we couldnotΒ  find the way. So instead, we stopped in another store selling spirits of the local fruit – apricots. The had apricot schnapps, punsch mix, soaps, chocolates, just about anything you could want with apricots. We picked up a punsch mix, wild cherry liqueur for me, and chili liqueur for Dave.

After that, we wandered along the main road, and ran back into the very nice Gluwein lady, who offered us a second mug. It wa really cold, so how could we say no? We ran into an Australian couple (currently living in Cali), and chatted with them for a bit.

We decided to attempt to walk up to the ruins of an old castle. Our new friends joined us! It was quite a hike, with lots of tall, assorted steps. After some breaks, I made it to the top, but decided to stop there, instead of venturing up some more steps to the entrance of the castle. It looked pretty, and Dave took a lot of pictures πŸ™‚

See how high up the castle is on the hill? Yeah, we climbed all the way up there!

A view from the top of the castle! (Dave took this picture) πŸ™‚

After we finished climbing back down, it was time to head to the boat. Shortly after boarding, we went to lunch and we set sail for our next stop, Linz, Austria.

We spent a nice leisurely lunch with our new friends, with a lot of wine πŸ™‚ we ended up staying late and hanging out past the beginning of the security briefing…oops! Luckily, our friends had been on this cruise line before, so they gave us their own version of the security briefing – if anything happens, go to the top deck!

We headed back to our room to relax, and then to the lounge to hear Kristine’s (our cruise director)Β  commentary on the beautiful Wachu valley as we sailed past.

After that, they had an afternoon tea, with sandwiches and cake. It was a nice mid-afternoon snack πŸ™‚ Spent most of the afternoon in the lounge, relaxing and checking email, facebook, twitter when we had internet.

Around 5, we headed back to the room to nap before getting ready for the captains welcome dinner. First was a champagne cocktail where the cabin crew was introduced. A large majority of the crew came from Bulgaria and Romania, and it turned out the Captain and the Ship Manager were married to each other. They also said our cruise director was the Captain’s sister, but I think they were joking πŸ™‚ Then finally it was time for dinner.

It was quite a menu! Beef carpaccio with avocado, tomato & Parmesan, lobster bisque, Gluwein sorbet as a palate cleanser, veal or sole as a main course option, and finally chocolate cake with ice cream for dessert. It was an overwhelming amount of food! But sooooo delicious! Oh, and of course, the wine was flowing all night!

Trying to decide what to order for dinner!

We hung out in the lounge for a little it, until I was about to fall asleep mid-conversation. Finally headed to bed and slept well until it was time to get up πŸ™‚

Vienna – Day 2

I am trying to be better about blogging, and I want to blog about our trip quickly, so I don’t forget all the good parts! I luckily was able to journal for most of the trip, and have a lot of good memories saved πŸ™‚ So without delay, here is our second day of the cruise, spent in Vienna, and it was the day we finally got to board the ship!

Vienna – (Day 2)

Today was a full day! We first had to get up and have our luggage outside the room by 7:30, so the porters could come get it, and take it to the buses (which would eventually take us to the boat)!

Then we headed down to breakfast and had bacon, waffles, pancakes, juice and tea! It was delicious. Then we checked to make sure they had our bags, checked out of the hotel, and headed to the bus.

We met our tour guides who were going to show us around Vienna. First was a 45 minute bus tour, around Ring Road, and past the Danube and Danube Canal. After our bus tour, it was time to walk πŸ™‚ First we went to the national library, which was Dave’s dream library. Two stories of bookshelves with lots of ladders to get to the books. It was pretty amazing!

After that, we walked around the city, saw the rose garten, the Spanish stallion riding school, and some other places. After that, it was free time, which meant a Christmas (or Christkindle!) market for us to browse around.

This market was in front of the town hall, and was really nice! We got some Gluwein (of course), and kept our collectible mugs! I found some candles I really liked, so I bought one for Dave’s parents and my mom.

After the market, we went to a place called Rosenberger for lunch. It was buffet/cafeteria style, and it was a little chaotic. We managed to get some food and a table, and ate our lunch. It was good, but too much for our liking! This is where being on the boat would have been helpful.

Headed back to the bus, and it was off to Schronbrunn Palace. Β It was a drive back through the city, and we arrived about 2 or so. We took a tour of the palace, which lasted about an hour, and then we got to shop at another Xmas market. Got some amaretto Gluvein, and did a little more shopping. I found a cute candle holder for me, that is carved out of wood, and reflects a scene. Also found some things (magnets, nativity scene person) for our families.

Then it was time to get back on the bus and finally head to the ship! I was so excited to get there, but of course we hit a lot of traffic, and it felt like the longest ride over!

When we finally did arrive, it was great! The crew welcomed us with hot chocolate and got us quickly checked in, showed us rooms, and delivered our luggage at lightning speed πŸ™‚

We were exhausted but it was dinner time, so we headed to the restaurant. We ordered from a menu that had nice options. I had the chef’s salad, chicken consumme with profiteroles, trout with a white cream sauce, and apple strudel for desert. It was all amazing πŸ™‚ oh did I mention the free flowing wine? They refilled my glass before it was even close to being empty!

After dinner, it was time to head to the concert hall for the Strauss/Mozart concert! We got back on the bus, and headed back across town one more time.

The concert was great! Along with the music, there were singers and dancers accompanying the performance. It was really entertaining, and we had a great time.

A view of the concert hall as we were walking in.

A final drive back thru Vienna, and we returned to the ship. After a night cap in the lounge, it was finally bed time πŸ™‚

I was worried about sleeping while sailing, but I had no issues, and slept quite well πŸ™‚ While we were sleeping, we were sailing right along to Durnstein, the next stop on our cruise.Β  More on that in the next post!

Vienna – Day 1! :-)

Vienna – Day 1 (December 15)

We left Doha at 2 AM to depart for Vienna! It was a short flight, but quite exhausting since it was overnight. We made it to Vienna at Β 6 AM, on schedule, and then had to wait for our transfer shuttle.

We had told the company we’d be there at 8:40, and then that flight was delayed. But while waiting, we couldn’t find the representative from UniWorld, so we were getting nervous. Finally around 9:30 we found her! We waited another hour or so, to round up some more people, and then we headed to the bus!

On the bus, ready to go to the ship!

We were told there that the ship was not able to dock due to rising waters, so we’d be taken to a hotel for the evening instead. They took us to the Intercontinental, where we checked in and took a nap in our room.

The afternoon was ours to explore, so we headed for a walk, braving the cold (about 26 F or so!). We walked around for a bit, looking at buildings and taking pictures πŸ™‚

We happened upon a Christmas market and headed over to check it out. There was Β Gluvein (mulled wine) and punsch (cider) to be had at every other stall, and lots of other stalls with homemade gifts and goodies. We wondered along down the snowy pathways, with our Gluvein to keep us warm, with lots of gilttery snow coming down. It was magical and so Christmas-y!

Happening upon this Christmas market was one of the best parts of our trip! It was snowy and cold, but so beautiful at night, with all the lights and everyone selling their handmade items.

My first mug of Gluwhein!

After spending about an hour there, we decided to head back to the intercon, since we had a meeting at 6, and dinner at 7!

The meeting was a de-briefing for the day tomorrow. It’s going to be full! Bus tour around Vienna, then walking tour, then Schronbunn Palace & Christmas markets lunch, then free time, and hopefully boardng the ship, and dinner, and finally off to a concert at a famous concert hall!

After the meeting, we had dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was great! Beef consumme with pancakes, Parmesan risotto with salmon, and ice cream with pumpkin ragout. It was all yummy! we had a nice dinner with a friend from Education City, since he’s here on the cruise too. (He’s actually the one that recommended it to us and put the idea into our heads!)

After dinner, we stopped at the bar for a night cap – hot toddy for me, glass of scotch for Dave, and then we headed up to bed, tomorrow is going to be a long day and we needed sleep!

For a full Shutterfly album of Vienna, click this link! (Oh and just a warning, there are 146 pictures!)

Updates….

I apologize for not blogging recently! There’s been lots to blog about, and I’ve been busy! I don’t know where the time goes! I am resolving this year to blog more often! While it can be hard to think of topics, I will do my best πŸ™‚

Here’s some updates on where I’ve been….

I went to Dubai for a birthday weekend trip, and I’ll try to blog that soon. It was a fun trip – Dubai is a crazy party town! Or at least what I saw of it πŸ˜›

In the middle of November, Dave’s parents and aunt came to visit us!

They were here from Eid to a little after Thanksgiving, so we took them dune bashing, went to the souq, and tried to give them the general Doha experience πŸ™‚ I think they had a great time, and it was nice to have them here, especially for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Our holiday plans ended up changing, but I think it was for the best! Initally, Dave and I discussed going to LA/Montana to be with his family for the holidays, but it became too complicated when I didn’t have a lot of time off from work, and we were going to end up booking a lot of one-way flights. So we came to the decision to stay in Doha for Christmas. The weather is amazing, and this is really the right time to be here.

We ran into a friend of ours that Dave works with, and he talked about the cruise he did last year, and mentioned he was doing another one this year.Β  So he sent us the information for his travel agent, and we decided to go on a European river cruise!

We flew to Vienna where we boarded the ship, and stopped every day along certain cities to see Christmas Markets and other historic things in the cities. We were supposed to end in Nuremburg, but actually the Danube Canal froze, so we were stuck in Regensburg. Luckily, we still made it to Nuremburg! I will work on blogging each city individually soon!

It was cold and snowy, but absolutely perfect! It was nice to experience Christmas in Europe, andΒ  then come back to warm, sandy weather πŸ˜›

So that’s what I’ve been up to! More details to come!