WATCHING THE WACHAU

Having a “relaxing” day on the ship to recuperate after receiving the injection for my raging hip tendinitis was a good thing—and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  Although, as you can see by the quotation marks above, relaxing is relative; it depends on who the person is doing it.

Me?  I never stay down for very long, especially when I’m traveling.  The River Voyager cruised past photogenic scenery too beautiful to pass by without jumping to my feet to snap a few photos from time-to-time.

While making our way to Vienna, we cruised the Danube which is Europe’s second-longest river at 1,770 miles long.  It passes through ten countries, including: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The 20-mile long Wachau Valley, between the Austrian towns of Melk and Krems is (in my opinion) the most scenic section along the Danube, and we took in the beautiful scenery along the way.

There were many charming towns as well as gorgeous castles, monasteries, and terraced vineyards we passed along the (at-times narrow) Wachau Valley section of the river.

The following are scenes we enjoyed along the way:

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Durnstein, a very upscale village that was visited frequently by Princess Diana, is also known for its wine.

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Spitz, “Land of 1,000 Buckets,” is known as a wine-producing region in Austria.

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Melk Abbey, in the town of Melk, is a Benedictine abbey that was built between 1702 and 1736.

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It was beautiful to see the sun finally shining!  As we cruised through Austria, their nation’s flag was flown with the Vantage Deluxe World Travel flag.

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Next up:  Passau

 

 

VIBRANT VIENNA

Vienna was our next stop after a wonderfully relaxing full day of cruising on the Danube.  At 94 degrees, the temperature was about 15 degrees above the normal average, and it felt very hot!

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I could have used a dip in this interesting floating pool!

The highlight of our walking tour was visiting the library of the palace that dated back to 1774.  It was stunning!

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St.Stephen’s Cathedral was photogenic as well; especially the 250,000 colorful enamel tiles that covered the roof, and the enormous stain glass windows.  Like most of the cathedrals we have seen, though, there was scaffolding in place where workers were cleaning the façade that had been damaged by pigeon droppings.  Many cathedrals and historic buildings throughout Europe now have screen covering surfaces to prevent pigeons from taking up residence and damaging the stone with excrement.

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There are 250,000 of these enamel tiles!

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Look closely at what is hanging from the ceiling of the cathedral.  These are all hand-crocheted lace doilies that have been stitched together.  I believe the words projected on each of these translated to love and peace.  (I forgot to write it in my notes.)

During our free time after the tour, Bruce and I wandered the streets I had strolled back in 2007 when I had visited with my mom.  There were a lot of changes—many more modern chain stores had replaced the small local businesses and patisseries.  Still, the smaller cobblestone alleys had picturesque cafes and boutiques that were pleasant to explore.

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By the time we had returned to the boat, the previous days of walking miles over cobblestones, climbing a lot of stairs, and trekking up the hill in Prague to see the view below from the castle, my hip rebelled.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t the hip that had been operated on in December, 2014; it was my “good” hip.

Knowing I couldn’t let my hip go untreated, I sought medical care the following day.  We would be in Vienna until 3:45 AM, so I asked the concierge, Renata, where I could go to get checked by a physician.  Being a Sunday, my only option was the hospital emergency room.  There was another gal on board, Betsy, who was having a problem with a leg injury, so Renata insisted on taking us by taxi to the hospital and assisting us.

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Betsy, Renata, and Me

Thankfully, Betsy and I both had taken out Vantage’s travel insurance, because all expenses were covered with no hassle, including the 60-euro round-trip taxi ride clear across the city to get to hospital and back.  Unfortunately, the first hospital we went to wouldn’t treat us, because there was nobody there to x-ray my hip or administer an injection.  On Sundays, you’re out of luck.  Unless you are an admitted patient, there is only one place to get medical care—the other hospital also located on the outskirts of town.  Renata called another taxi, and off we went to Krankenhausseelsorge, the other hospital with a very long name.

While Betsy received treatment for her leg, I was sent off for an exam, x-ray, and injections.  What was thought to be bursitis was calcific tendinitis, and the x-rays showed plenty of evidence.  The doctors who claimed to speak “little” English ended up being a breeze to communicate with, and they were wonderful.  I received an injection of short and long-term anesthetic in my hip, and I was sent away with a cd of my x-rays and a stronger anti-inflammatory than the Meloxicam I had brought on board, just in case.

What could have been a miserable experience turned out to be no big deal, and the three of us made the best of it.  We got to know each other during the long taxi rides, had a lot of laughs, and we bonded.  In the hospital, while Renata went to check on Betsy, she made a detour to the cafeteria and surprised me with a couple of cutely packaged Lindt chocolate bars to cheer me up.  (She knew how much I loved chocolate after I asked her the first night of the cruise where the closest grocery store was located in Budapest, so I could purchase chocolate the following day.  It turns out she loved chocolate, too, and she shared some of her private Croatian chocolate stash with me.  We were instant soul sisters!  The following day, she was afraid we wouldn’t get a chance to make it to the store, so she even purchased a few of the bars I was looking for when she went shopping for herself and gave them to me as a gift.  We laughed, because we had bought chocolate to Renata as a gift!  We ended up giving each other the exact same chocolate!)

By the evening time, the short-term injection alleviated the pain enough to be able to join the other passengers for a trip to the beautiful Kursalon Wien music hall for a private concert just for our group.  After being served a glass of champagne on the terrace, we were treated to a fabulous one-hour performance by a nine-piece orchestra, two opera singers, and two ballet dancers.  The repertoire included several recognizable favorites, and the variety of classical music, opera, and ballet was a perfect cultural mix.  All of us agreed it would prove to be one of the highlights of our trip!

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Kursalon Wien

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Enjoying champagne on the terrace with Bruce.  This concert was a casual event exclusively for Vantage, so it we were told to “Come as you are!”

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