We left Sea Girt at 3PM, on way to Newark Airport, our driver was early, drove nicely (no speeding or weaving) to arrive at the airport about 4. We took full advantage of the Star Alliance Gold program honored by Austrian Air. Quick check in, fast track Security, and use of the Gold Lufthansa lounge... a perfect start and comfortable beginning to our Viking River Romantic Danube Cruise.
The Flight was uneventful, we were seated in 19H,K (on the 2 seat side) which we paid 83.00PP extra for exit row.. - well worth the money. Food and drink were included and very tasty.
Dinner and breakfast...nothing to write home about, but good for airlines. We arrived about 30 minutes early and are now (6 hrs. ahead of NY).
Upon arrival in Vienna, we did pass thru passport control, then to gate F13 for our connecting flight to Budapest. Another unexpected security check, then to the gate. Total time from arrival to the new gate was about 35 minutes.
There is NO lounge in the F terminal wing, only in G. Wi-Fi is free in the Vienna airport.
We waited comfortably (and purchased Mozart Balls) until boarding the bus to the plane (turbo prop) 100 passenger Fokker, then the 45 minute flight to Budapest.
Another bus from the plane to the terminal, then baggage, then to meet our Viking rep. Steve, was waiting to greet us, Christen drove us the 30 minute ride to the Marriott. Its' sunny, temperature a comfortable 70...perfect! Kitti at the front desk checked us in with me..- as Lorrette went over Viking details with Diane. Learned then, that our room would not be available for another 30 minutes, so off to the executive lounge on floor 9 we went. Tamas took our baggage to the storage facility and would later meet us at room 644 with it and key.
Warm, exhausted and VERY anxious to freshen up, we had coffee tea and incredible bread while waiting. The Wi-Fi is free in the lobby and lounge, so we caught up with messages.
Finally in the room, the view spectacular! We face the Danube and government buildings (lit dramatically at night).
A brief nap, then back to the lounge for free drinks and hor dourves - a wide variety of delicious snacks and sweets. Perfect for "dinner". We met Judy and Bill from Savannah (formerly Princeton and J&J) spoke briefly then retired for the evening. Laura (our server) from Colombia was very attentive and helpful.... doing her internship here for her degree in Hotel Management.
Notes... no clocks in any guest rooms, attractive lighting in the lavatory but not practical, nor are there any shelves or other areas to put things there. Shower floor slippery, no good places to hold onto when entering or exiting it. Happy we brought our suction cup grab bar.
It's 8 AM, as I write this, we're getting ready for the Viking included breakfast in "Peppers" - then for a walk.
Fabulous breakfast, eggs made to your order, ever kind of meat, cheese, fruit, cereal, bread, Danish etc... all a part of the Viking package. Probably 30 dollars each if we had to pay for it.
This morning we signed up for a private tour of the Jewish Synagogue and Museum. One of the popular tourist venues we missed last year as we arrived on the Sabbath. The largest in Europe, and 2nd only to the Temple Emanuel in NYC, it can hold 6000 (3000 seated, 3000 standing) the architect commissioned was famous for his cathedrals and so, this as you will see, looks much like a church inside.
The walk ended up taking us about an hour (not the 20 minutes) must have been the wrong turn we took... fortunately we left early and met our guide Fatima just as planned, at 1:45.
There was one other couple (Roger and Meg) from the UK on this private tour and it was especially good. The tour of the museum and synagogue ended up taking 3 hours. We learned a great deal about Hungarian anti-Semitism and of the holocaust. Pleased also to see so many of the religious articles saved and donated to the museum. Interesting also again, was how the synagogue was designed in the fashion of a catholic cathedral.
Having been on our feet for 4 or more without a break, we decided to cab it back to the Marriott and cancel our evening festivities. The cab ride back was about 7.00 US, and FAST.
Brief stop to the room to freshen up and rest our tired feet for a few moments, then up to the executive lounge for what was dinner. Chicken in mushroom sauce, all kinds of deserts, breads and goodies. Early to bed!
Tomorrow afternoon, we board the NJORD ...for another overnight in Budapest, then begin cruising the Danube.
Wednesday, Oct 8..
We packed before leaving the room for breakfast, arranged for a late check-out (2PM) then enjoyed another excellent meal and service in peppers.
Back to the room to put out the bags, put on light jackets (it’s 65 degrees) overcast ... then we walked to the main market. This time we had very good directions and found the place without difficulty. Total time about 20 minutes. Took loads of pictures - will share a few to give you an idea of what's there, prices, (in Forints) and how the locals here shop.
Diane found a spoon rest, pointed out pigs feet (for a pix) and priced some of the Tokay (liquor) just to have some idea of what the cost was.
Back to the Marriott to check-out and cab to the ship - (about 12.00 US) to the NJORD.
The ship is spotless, we were greeted warmly by all crew, like a homecoming. Our cabin (337) is ready, very attractive and practical... plenty of space for everything we brought, we freshened up then went for a light continental lunch, waited for luggage to be delivered, unpacked and when to the orientation presentation by Anita. There are 190 passengers on board (full).
Our cabin attendant Mira did an excellent job keeping our cabin clean, neat and ready.
Dinner was delicious.. We sat with Ted, Cathy, Dee and Genie.. I had the salmon, Diane the leg of lamb. Everyone enjoyed their selections.. Really great meals and plenty to eat. Deserts, wine etc... all perfect!
Haven't met many repeat cruisers yet..
TV has everything - latest movies, good reception, music, - beautiful 40 inch SONY. No extra charge for any of the above.
Time for bed... very comfortable bedding.
As far as tomorrow, we decided to sleep late, miss the tour (been there last year) and sail with the ship to the next location.
Oh, the market recovered the 276 points lost yesterday....(until Thursday when it dropped 327)
Thursday – Vienna
Did some walking and visiting a well stocked supermarket near the St. Stephens Church. Picked up more Mozart Chocolate Balls and Oplatki Wafers for gifts.
In the evening, we signed up for the optional Concert at the Arsenal knowing how enjoyable we found it last year.
14 Musicians, a dance team, and 3 vocalists entertained about 300 of us (from several Viking ships) for about 2 hours.
Notes: There were no elevators and many steps to the auditorium..
During a brief intermission, Champaign was served.
The ride back to the ship was uneventful... we did not get lost as we did on the way to the venue...
Another nice day...
Forgive us... things have been really busy!
Having a great time, food, service and itinerates continue to be superb.
Too much to eat, see and do, loads of locks we go thru on this Danube journey.
Wi-Fi has been wonderful, except for some reason, several of the messages to a few of the persons on our list bounce. I'll have to find out why for the future.
Meeting many very interesting folks from all over. A Jesuit, engineers, retirees, teachers - very mixed in ages - some from NJ and a couple from Brooklyn.
Explorer cocktail party - - 20 guests showed up, that's 10% (repeat cruisers).
Anyway, it's Tuesday morning the 14th, we leave tomorrow for home, the time flew by, weather still cool but comfortable - enjoying everything.
Special mention to Rene, Head Chef... Branko, (Matre D’)... Agnes (cocktails and more) Elmer, (server) Hazel (pastry chef) – Hans (hotel mgr), Anita, (program director) & Rado (Concierge) – for their outstanding service and for preparing delicious, delightful selections and too for their creativity!
Oh... 28 of us signed up for the BMW assembly plant tour yesterday WOW it IS incredible to watch how they manage the logistics of each vehicle and the customization of each one.! NO PHOTOS PERMITTED
No two alike, it is amazing how automated the plant is, the jit (just in time) delivery of all the parts and elements needed to produce the 8 models on this same line, all custom (just the seats can have 23 different configurations)...
If you get a chance – it’s a must!
Our flight home was uneventful, used GOES to expedite entry back into the US, saved at least 45 minutes on long lines...
United Airlines (unlike Lufthansa) charges for wine with dinner.
Seats were comfortable...
Ride home perfect!
Deck 3, to the rear of the ship. Quiet, Clean, plenty of storage, great lighting in bath, excellent shower size, large safe! Plenty of space under the beds for suitcases, conveniently located electrical outlets (both 110 and 220). Air conditioning worked beautifully and hot water plentiful.Bottled water replenished daily.