Well before Larry and I knew we were moving to Germany, mom and I had planned a special mother-daughter river cruise down the Danube. While we had our challenges in the form of weather and health, overall it was a wonderful, beautiful experience.
I saw the Danube for the first time. Even got to see where the three rivers (Ilz, Inn, and Danube) meld into a tri-colored convergence. I was able to visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary for the first time as well as see new parts of Germany and Austria, and revisit Vienna. Best of all was that we got to spend time together.
The Viking River Cruise itself was very impressive. It was a luxuriously comfortable way to travel. It was staffed with professionals in the service industry who saw to all of the guests’ every need. The excursions were varied and enriching. The meals were outstanding. The rooms snug and clean. As mom was very sick (and I was somewhat sick) it made for a very comfortable place for the two of us to nap regularly.
Between doctor’s visits and napping, we had a chance to meet some great people, staff, passengers, and locals. One example was our taxi driver in Budapest who sang with us all the way to the train station, ensured we got where we needed to go, and regaled us with pictures and stories of his beautiful young daughter. While driving skillfully he told us the two thing Budapest has too much of is tourists and churches. He then pointed out every church between the boat and the train station. He was right.
I think the highlight for both of us was Budapest. We technically had two days in that stunning city. Not only were we both as close to health as we had been on the cruise, but the weather was nice for the first time. That helped us fake it till we made it, so to speak. Best of all, we were able to meet dear, lifelong friends for an AMAZING dinner and a wonderful — albeit short — visit, which was the pinnacle of this whole, breathtaking experience. I wish we had been fully restored to health. I wish we had more time. I wish we could have seen more or done more or caught up with Lindsey. Next time. There will definitely be a next time for Budapest.
The train ride back was beautiful and afforded a chance to meet a woman we referred to as the Contessa with beautiful “heritage” jewelry. Perhaps the strangest moment on the trip was when we got to witness an older man get off the train for a cigarette at one stop and fail to get back on, leaving behind his glasses, suitcases, cellphone, and coat.
I put the full albums on my Facebook page (but here are the top 30 or so to record for posterity in the family blog).