Our recent excursion on AmaWaterways’ AmaVerde was the first river cruise for both the Legacy Ladies, and we can’t stop talking about it! Here are the details about our itinerary, the ship, and each destination we were fortunate enough to explore.
We had almost 3 days to explore Vienna, and those days were packed! On our arrival day, we toured several of Vienna’s luxury hotels, two of which are housed in former Imperial-era palaces. Between tours, I introduced Sandy to the phenomenon of the Würstelstand and my favorite type of sausage, the Käsekrainer. Later, we were treated to a private, after-hours reception at the Belvedere palace as well as a tour of some of the most famous works of art that are housed there. We boarded the AmaVerde on Day 2, settled into our cabin, and had some meetings and conference content. On both evenings, I was fortunate to spend time with family friends whom I had not seen since 2019. Day 3 was our official touring day in Vienna, and we visited various sites on a walking tour and sampled Sacher Torte and Apfelstrudel (mit schlagobers, of course) at the world-famous Landtmann cafe. I also took some time to visit my grandmother’s favorite hotel along the Karnerstrasse as well as the location of her childhood home in Vienna, just across from the Votivkirche.
Because we were on a fully chartered ship, our group had the flexibility to set an unusual itinerary. We headed northwest on the Danube from Vienna into the Wachau Valley, then turned around and cruised back past Vienna toward Slovakia and Hungary. On our way to the Wachau, our conference sessions were interrupted by the fascinating passage through several locks along the Danube. When we docked in Dürnstein and began walking around the charming village, I was reminded of the last and only other time I had been here in 2019, when Sarah, Jack and I spent the day riding rented bikes along the Danube and then climbed up to the ruins of the castle in Dürnstein where Richard the Lionheart had been imprisoned in the 12th century. This time, there was no pouring rain, but there were a few snowflakes as we explored this UNESCO heritage area with our knowledgeable guide. Later in the evening we visited a quaint winery and heuriger to taste some of the Wachau’s famous wines.
The next day we left Austria and sailed down the Danube to Slovakia, passing quaint villages and castles along the way. In Bratislava, we took a tour called “Tastes of Slovakia,” and the tastes were mainly of Slovakian beer! We first had a walking tour through the main parts of the old town, then stopped in a pub for charcuterie and lager. After our tour, we explored on our own, finding a family-owned honey shop and an impressive wine bar complete with secret rooms!
Budapest was the one place on our itinerary that was new to me, and it did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, in my opinion, Budapest was the most impressive city to approach and explore by river cruise. The two sides of the city are bisected by the Danube, and the river cruise port is right in the center of the action. Sandy and I each took different tours of the city, mine a general overview and hers visiting some of the lesser-known sites. I also stayed an extra day in the city once we disembarked so that I could visit one of Budapest’s famous thermal bathhouses, and so that I could participate in our conference group’s grand finale, a private dinner with Wolfgang Puck. I can’t wait to return to explore and learn more about Budapest’s fascinating history, architecture and culture.
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