Village Travel Blue Danube & Prague Cruisetour
Sat. April 30, 2005: Overnight flight USA to Budapest, Hungary.
Sun. May 1, 2005: Arrive in the Hungarian capital and transfer to the River Princess. Afternoon at leisure with a welcome-aboard dinner.
Mon. May 2, 2005: Guided sightseeing tour of Budapest, then on towards Vienna cruising on the Danube.
Tues. May 3, 2005: Arrive in Vienna for an afternoon tour of the "City of Music. "Optional evening concert of Mozart and Strauss waltzes.
Wed. May 4, 2005: Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Wachau Valley, as the River Princess follows the Danube through Austria, stopping at Melk for a tour of the Benedictine abbey.
Thurs. May 5, 2005: Our cruise crosses into Germany's Eastern Bavaria region, stopping in Passau for a tour of St. Stephan's Cathedral.
Fri. May 6, 2005: Our day begins with a guided tour of the medieval city of Regensburg. Then it is back on the River Princess to the Main-Danube Canal.
Sat. May 7, 2005: In the morning we cruise the Altmuhl Valley. After lunch we tour the Old City of Nuremburg.
Sun. May 8, 2005: Our river cruise ends after breakfast. A fond farewell for those who are flying home today. The rest of us journey across lower Bohemia to the Renaissance Hotel, for our 3 night stay in Prague.
Mon. May 9, 2005: The day starts with a buffet breakfast followed by a tour of the highlights of the "Golden City". Afternoon is at leisure.
Tues. May 10, 2005: After breakfast you are free to explore on your own, shop or stroll along the Vltava River.
Wed. May 11, 2005: After breakfast (included), transfer to the airport for your flight home.
River Princess Onboard Amenities: All outside cabins - sitting area by the window - Generous closet/drawer space -in room safe - Hair dryer - vanity with makeup mirror - Satellite TV with VCR and onboard info - Telephone -Terry cloth robes - 220 v. - 65 cabins, max. 138 guests - maiden voyage 2001.
Renaissance Prague Hotel Amenities:
Superior First Class hotel - 310 rooms - 9 floors - Built 1993.
Renovated 2003 - Air conditioned thoughout - Restaurant & Lounge
Swimming pool - Sauna - Health Club - Gift Shop - 24 hour front desk.
Walking distance to Venzelslav Square, Charles Bridge & Old Town Square.
All rooms have private baths - cable TV & VCR- Clock Radio/Alarm
Iron & Ironing board - Hairdryer - Telephone - Minibar - Safe.
80 Peterborough Street
Jaffrey, NH 03452
Bob & Sandy Barker. Hingham, MA.
Art & Joy Bliss. Gold Canyon, AZ.
Gordon & Marcella Starkey. New London, NH.
John Stephenson. Carpinteria, CA.
Rob Stephenson. Jaffrey, NH.
Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.
Our hotel--the Andechser Hof, Ackerstrasse 19--is Austrian-owned. Maria, a friend of Stanzi's, works there in the restaurant (Restaurant Kürbis: The Pumpkin. I had Wienerschnitzel one night). A nice modern room for 45 Euros for the two of us. It's located in what was East Berlin. Most of the ca. late 19th C buildings on the street had been spruced up. One exception was the building next door which you can see here. The second view is of the hotel's courtyard.
On Friday night we went to Stanzi and Clemens' apartment on Wienerstrasse. A big courtyard building with a long climb up. We enjoyed Stanzi's famous Tunafish Pasta. Clemens set the timer on his camera to get us all on the couch.
A museum highpoint, however, was the Hoffmann Collection at 21 Sophienstrasse, which John had been told about. The photo shows the entrance. On Saturday morning John, Stanzi and I had a tour of the many spaces by a knowledgeable man. This is Erika Hoffmann's home so it is lived in--spectacular spaces though sparsely furnished. The "art" is the thing, which gets changed totally every six months or so.
Here's what The Economist has to say about it:
"High above Mitte's bustling gallery scene, in three floors of a 19th-century factory building, sprawls Erika Hoffmann's Berlin residence. Every Saturday, the widow of the late Rolf Hoffmann (who made his fortune in fashion) opens her home and its collection of contemporary art to small groups of visitors. A leisurely 90-minute tour of this apartment provides a quirky, refreshing primer on art since the 1960s, and is pleasantly off the tourist-beaten path. The Hoffmanns had impeccable--if eccentric--taste. Their maze of halls, rooms and offices houses paintings, sculptures, photographs and video installations."
Some parting impressions of Berlin:
- The city is spread out.
- East and West have been and are being rewoven quickly.
- It seems that many of the older and more interesting buildings are in the East.
- The West has more in the way of new dramatic architecture.
- The city doesn't seem very crowded, either pedestrians or cars.
- There's an awful lot of graffiti around.
- Excellent, easy-to-use mass transit, though stations not always the most attractive.
- Lots of smokers.
- Lots of bicycles but helmets are pretty uncommon.
Stanzi was a sweetheart and drove us to the airport on Sunday morning. After a coffee, we bid her 'auf wiedersehen' and flew off to Budapest via Munich. Arrived in warm and muggy--compared to Berlin--Hungary. Orsi, young woman at the airport working for Uniworld, our boat tour operator, helped us get a taxi into the center (we would meet up again on Monday). Soon we were in the Pest side of Budapest (Pest=fire; Buda=water, so we were told). Most of our contingent was on board or soon would be. Nice boat, The MS River Princess.
The next day, Monday, we spent most of the day on a bus tour on both sides of the river. There were 3 buses and 3 guides; we spied Orsi and chose her bus. Good choice. Very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and perky. There she is on the left. On the right, a bit of the statuary behind her at the Place of Heroes: I like that bridle made of horns. You don't want to tangle with those guys. It was too bad that we didn't have more time to wander around Budapest on our own. A very impressive place.
After lunch some of us took an optional tour to the Danube Gorge by boat from Kelheim, where the Main-Danube Canal goes off to the north from the Danube proper. The boat was crowded and noisy but the short cruise took us to Klosterschenke Weltenburg, the world's oldest monastery brewery (1050 AD or thereabouts). It seems that the main business of this Benedictine monastery is to turn out beer and cater to tourists. We got our mandatory beer from a barmaid you wouldn't want to argue with. In the abbey there is a silver St George and the Dragon over the altar as well as a painting of Columbus (one wonders why).
On leaving our boat, we boarded buses and drove through very nice countryside eastwards. Soon we were crossing the border into the Czech Republic. And not long afterwards we found ourselves in Prague.
Our hotel in Prague, the Renaissance Prague Hotel, about as American as you can get but very nice and centrally located.
On the morning of the 11th of May, John and I headed for the airport outside Prague. He flew out first, on his way to California. A couple of hours later I was airborne and London-bound. Now for a change of pace.
Arrived at Heathrow and took the tube to Victoria Station and went on to Julia's office nearby. Picked up a key and got a cab for Lavender Hill. That night we had a pizza in Gowrie Road. Thursday I went into central London, dropped by Sotherans--where some Antarctic crockery was awaiting me, thanks to Stuart Leggatt--had a leisurely lunch (skate and chips) at Manzi's, took in the Caravaggio show at the National Gallery, checked out 45 Cloth Fair (where 4 of us will be staying in November--another Landmark Trust property). That night Julia and I went down the road to Le Bouchon for dinner, not for the first time. On Friday I went north to Cambridge and walked to SPRI to do some things. Who should be there but Jonathan Shackleton and Joe O'Farrell. Had a very liquid lunch at Lawyers with Bob Headland and Joe and soon after were headed for London for the James Caird dinner.
Julia and Pansy. Certainly the last time I'll be visiting at Gowrie Road. They're both off to a new home in the country come July. (The first time I was at Gowrie Road--not forgetting Wandsworth Road and Holden Street, which came before--was 9-13 September 1986. From the Visitor's Book, I gleaned the following return visits: 21-23 Sept 1986; Oct 1995; 16-23 Jan 1998; 2-5 Feb 1998; 22-26 June 1998; 19-25 May 1999; 1-3 June 1999; 17 June 1999; 16-19 Sept 1999; 30 Oct-7 Nov 2000; 16-21 May 2001; 24 Sept - 1 Oct 2001; 29 Sept - 2 Oct 2002; and 16-17 Nov 2004. How's that for imposition!)
The Bonhams thankfully drove me back to Lavender Hill after the Caird dinner. The next day, Saturday, was lovely and relaxing. Julia and I drove into central London and checked a few things out. She left me at the V & A--where I hadn't been for awhile, and I spent 2 or 3 hours there. Everything is in very good shape now. Walked from there over to Chelsea and down--or up--the King's Road to Sloane Square, through the now-completed Peter Jones--it's taken years to renovate that store--and onto the 137 bus to Lavender Hill.
Next day, out to Heathrow and on the plane home.
To check out the next trip--in November to London--have a look at http://home.comcast.net/~rs41/clothfair.htm