Danube Winter Cruise Experience & European Itinerary - Travel Squad Podcast

Danube Winter Cruise Experience & European Itinerary

In this episode we take you on a romantic honeymoon cruise along the Danube River. The second longest river in Europe, this cruise passes through Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Krems, Salzburg, and Passau. We did this cruise in December during the European Christmas markets season and had so much fun seeing the Christmas decorations, snacks and baked good, and European gifts. 

River cruise Danube is the perfect cruise if you want to enjoy the perks of all-inclusive  life on the water and see a new destination every day. We loved not having to unpack and getting an optional guided tour every day at port. We would highly recommend this Danube River Christmas market cruise to our squadies, we loved it!

Danube River Cruise – Episode Transcript

3 (58s):
Welcome to episode 115 of the Travel Squad podcast. Today. We’re talking all about Brittany and I’s honeymoon that we took back in 2015. Can’t believe it’s been so long since one we’ve been married to, since we’ve actually done this episode, talking about our trip and honeymoon cruise on the Danube River and Europe, which is actually the second longest river in Europe at a total of 1,777 miles long.

1 (1m 25s):
Have you guys are looking for the perfect honeymoon look no further, cause this was the perfect honeymoon trip. It completely exceeded all of my expectations. Christmas in Europe is so magical with all the Christmas markets, Christmas lights, authentic food. And I’m so thankful that my dad recommended this trip to us. And I’m also really thankful that Jamal did all of the planning behind the trip. I did no planning. Can you imagine that?

2 (1m 51s):
I remember back in the day you used to say Jamal does all the planning.

1 (1m 55s):
Yes. And then at some point I took over,

3 (1m 58s):
She just hijacked that rule for me and took over. So I’m in the passenger seat. Now I just roll with the punches.

2 (2m 4s):
This wasn’t my honeymoon trip.

3 (2m 6s):
No, it was not,

2 (2m 7s):
But I am feeling the love on this episode. Europe is absolutely gorgeous. There are so many different places to see. And if this trip is half as amazing as your wedding was, then I know we’re in for a good episode here. So let’s just dive right into it with the first question that I’m dying to know what is the Danube River?

3 (2m 28s):
Well, I kind of touched on it a little bit on the intro there, Kim, but just to remind you, it’s the second longest river in Europe. So approximately 1800 miles, I’m rounding up for it. Now, granted, we didn’t cruise the entire 1800 miles, but this river actually starts in the black sea and it flows through so many different countries. The ones that we went to on this one were hungry. Slovakia, Austria, Germany flows through so many more, but those are the countries that we pass through on the cruise. But I, to mention you asked, this was our honeymoon, but you don’t need to be on your honeymoon to go on this. Brittany mentioned the Christmas markets. We did go in December. It’s absolutely magical at that time, but you don’t need to go.

3 (3m 10s):
And the winter months either you could go anytime a year and do the river cruise. And I think the River cruises are really, really great because if anyone’s ever been on an ocean line cruise, they are fun. The cruise is the experience itself, but there’s something to be said about the River cruises because they’re smaller ships, more intimate service is better. The food is better, really, really fun.

2 (3m 30s):
And I know that when you dock pretty much every day, you’re in a new country, a new city and you’re cruising at night to the next place. Are there any onboard cruise activities like the formal dinner or the shows and that kind of stuff.

1 (3m 43s):
So no shows because it’s a very small, intimate cruise ship, but they do have like a lounge area where you can go get drinks. There’s like a bar, things like that. But in terms of like in comparison to like an ocean line cruise where they have the shows and there’s like so much to do on board. There’s not that because when you’re at port, you’re at port, from like 7:00 AM till like midnight, 11:00 PM. So you’re docked all day, but they do provide really nice dinners, all of the lunches and all of the dinners include alcohol. So you can get wine or beer and that’s no extra charge.

2 (4m 15s):
Is there a limit?

3 (4m 16s):
And there is no limit. It just has to be during those timeframes. If you are on the ship, whether you be at poor or the rare event that you’re seeling during the day, I think we only sealed one time, literally during sunlight hours, most of the time is you’re sleeping. And then yes, you’re right. You wake up in the other spot, but you have to buy it, but unlimited during those times. So it’s really cool, but yeah, no shows, but yes, formal meals. So there’s a dining room and everything. You have your breakfast, lunch and dinner now because you are at port the whole time, you can choose to decide not to come back on the ship, eat out locally, if you want dry other food or come back, but you don’t lose that dining experience that cruises are known for.

2 (4m 57s):
Okay. Two important questions before we get into tips. Number one, was there a breakfast buffet?

1 (5m 5s):
I feel like there wasn’t a breakfast. What they do do is they make that breakfast for you as you order it. And so all of your meals are made to order.

2 (5m 15s):
Our mimosa is included with

3 (5m 16s):
Not with breakfast, no only the lunch and dinners have the included alcohol. You can order a mimosa, but at breakfast it is not included complimentary,

1 (5m 25s):
Right? Jamal, about the buffet situation.

3 (5m 27s):
Yeah. It wasn’t a breakfast buffet situation. They give you a menu and it’s made to order now lunch. They did have a made to order menu, but that was where they had more of the appetizers and snacks for people. If they wanted to come back onto the ship and just get something real quick, instead of eating out, they did have the formal option, but they did have that, but it’s not as grand. I mean, these ships really have a 200 person capacity. I mean, you’re not sailing more than with 200 people. So they don’t put out like a full blown spread and have a lot to, to waste or anything like that. But don’t let that make you think the food isn’t prime, the food is prime on this.

2 (6m 3s):
Okay. And then is there a pool and hot tub situation on the cruise

3 (6m 8s):
Negative on that? Because the ships are so small. I mean, 200 people. So there

1 (6m 13s):
That we went on, there might be larger river cruise ships, but this specific one did not have them.

3 (6m 18s):
And I wouldn’t expect a pool either. If they do have anything, maybe the newer ones do have hot tubs. I mean, we went on Viking. I don’t know if we’ve mentioned that yet. We did a Viking river cruise. They’re one of the top two or three premier river cruise companies in the world. They’ve actually recently branched out to ocean line ones. Haven’t done one of their ocean line ones yet. So other companies that do river cruises may have it, but keep in mind, we actually, at one point had to go through locks on this cruise. And if anyone doesn’t know what the locks are, it’s where you get into the little areas of the river, where they flood you up. Like the Panama canal has this, right? Because the water levels aren’t even. So they need to flood you up or flood you down to be at decent levels.

3 (6m 59s):
So they could only be so wide and long. So they only have limited space on what they couldn’t do.

1 (7m 5s):
Any other questions before we get into the tip.

2 (7m 7s):
Now give me the tip.

1 (7m 8s):
So Jamal mentioned, we took a Viking river cruise and they always have seals on the cruise or the flight prices. So highly recommend. If you’re interested in looking at their website, signing up for their news offers or their emails, I get the newsletters all the time. They’re constantly having like half off cruises or, you know, if you buy a cruise, the airfare is included. So really good deals on that.

2 (7m 33s):
I know this was six years ago, but do you have an idea of what the ballpark price was for you to, to take this cruise?

3 (7m 40s):
I think total, it was about $4,500 for both me and Brittany. Was it not including our flights because we got it at the promo where it was flights included. So you book the package and then your flights were included and it’s

2 (7m 55s):
An eight day cruise, right?

3 (7m 57s):
Yes. It’s an eight day cruise. They have. Yeah. So that’s the one that we did. They have longer cruises. I mean, if it’s long, I know, but they have some River cruises that go 14 days and they merge different rivers through Europe together and have longer itineraries. So I mean, you could do a plethora and multiple day adventure if you want it to.

1 (8m 16s):
Yeah. And we did just a, you know, a basic room, but they do have like sweets there as well. So you could pay more and you have more like, oh, luxury.

2 (8m 24s):
I was going to ask that too, since it was your honeymoon, if you upgraded anything.

3 (8m 27s):
No, not necessarily. We definitely did not do any little upgrade because our upgrade that we did was extending the cruise to go to Paris. So we spent more money exploring France. We’ve mentioned Shamini many times. So we went to new year’s in the French Alps. So that little splurge was the add-on to the river cruise that we did. But because the ships are relatively narrow on small, every room has a window and a view. So there’s no interiors or anything like that.

1 (8m 57s):
So another tip too is because the flights are included or you can buy your flights with it. You can extend your stay for no additional cost in terms of flights. So we decided to fly out a week later, like Jamal said, because we stayed in France and that ticket from France home was paid for. We didn’t pay anything extra to do that.

2 (9m 17s):
Did you have to pay for your transfer to Paris from no.

3 (9m 22s):
No, because what we did is our crews originally started in Budapest, in Hungary and it ended and Passau Germany. So when the river cruise was done in Germany originally, if you’re going to go home, the closest airport was Munich. So we flew from Munich to Paris. Those flights were included and then Paris back to the United States included. So normally it should have been like, oh, Munich going home, no layovers, but because the flights were included at no additional charge as part of the package, we told them, Hey, can we extend our, stay? Everything else we had to take care of on our own, obviously, but the flights and the alterations, no additional charge for that. So that was really awesome.

2 (9m 59s):
I kind of liked the idea of having one room to stay in. So you don’t have to pack and unpack and repack and change your hotel for every different city that you’re visiting. So you really do get the perk of visiting all these different cities and countries, but not having to move your stuff. Right.

1 (10m 17s):
It was a floating hotel, like

2 (10m 19s):
Really that’s awesome.

1 (10m 20s):
We got to leave all of our stuff every day. It dropped us off somewhere new. And then we got to go back to the room that we were used to, you know, didn’t have to pack up or do any moving.

2 (10m 28s):
We just did that trip to Ecuador. And every day it was like, pack your luggage, moved to another place. And that is exhausting.

1 (10m 35s):
Yes. So one of our squaddies actually reached out to me, not that long ago. And they said, you know, we’ve heard you talk about you doing this episode. Want to hear more about it? And she was like, I’m really prone to motion sickness. How is the river cruise? And so the waters are really, really calm motion sickness. Isn’t a concern on the river because the waters are calm. So it is recommended for someone that is prone to motion sickness because you probably won’t get sick.

3 (11m 3s):
I mean, yeah, you’re not out on the ocean. There’s no big choppy waves or anything like that. So I don’t think you would experience it at all. Sometimes I couldn’t even tell that I was on a boat quite honestly. Now granted, most of the time we were sailing, it was when we were sleeping. But even on a cruise, you wake up in the middle of the night and you can feel it moving, not on the river cruise. So I think it’s really good for that. And another tip that I just want to kind of mention just in the planning process of doing a river cruise is keep in mind, we’re cruising on a river, not an ocean sometimes in years of drought. Clearly there’s not a lot of precipitation and that’s going to affect the water levels on the river. This didn’t happen to us, but I’ve heard of cases of where the water level is so low that the ships can’t even actually sail.

3 (11m 44s):
If they can, not for the full itinerary, there’s some parts of the river where it’s lower than others. So they’ll have you get off on a bus. You have to drive to the next spot. So if you are planning, one of these trips do check that out, speak with the tour company that you’re going to be going with and ask them, what’s the likelihood of it during this time of year or season when you’re trying to book, because I would hate to book one of these and then have to do a route on a bus. That would be the most unfortunate thing.

2 (12m 9s):
Yeah. Going for a river cruise and getting a road trip.

1 (12m 14s):
Yeah. So another tip is we got to mention the bathrooms, right?

2 (12m 18s):
Oh yeah. What’s it like

1 (12m 19s):
In Europe, you are charged everywhere you go. Just like in a lot of foreign countries, you have to have coins to go to the bathroom.

2 (12m 27s):
I feel like America’s one of the only countries that doesn’t routinely charge for public restrooms.

1 (12m 33s):
They don’t. Yeah. It’s great. It’s great in that sense. But a lot of our public restrooms are a lot grosser than some of the public restrooms and other countries.

2 (12m 41s):
That’s true.

3 (12m 42s):
You get what you pay for, but Bernie is not talking about having to pay on the cruise. She’s talking about when we’re at port and the city is out and about public restrooms.

2 (12m 50s):
So you have to pay, do they have toilet seat covers or toilet paper? So

1 (12m 57s):
Yes. So toilet paper, not as sure about the toilet seat covers can’t remember that.

2 (13m 2s):
Okay. So not bad, not bad.

3 (13m 5s):
I feel more comfortable using public restrooms out here in these areas that we’re going to be talking about. And then a lot of other places that we’ve had to use and pay to use public restroom. So let’s put it that way, but you know, any public restroom, I guess, too, in a sense, as a gamble, you never know what you’re going to get. Right.

2 (13m 19s):
I love when we go on trips and we’re like, how was the bathroom? It was good or not bad. Or you got to check it out or that it was disgusting.

1 (13m 27s):
Yeah. You know, we’ve had the best of bathrooms. Like when we were in Africa, we looked out at the safari and there was rhinos. And then we’ve had, you know, little holes that we’ve had to pee into in the crown.

2 (13m 40s):
So China, how about that bathroom with the view in Mexico city?

1 (13m 43s):
Oh, that was beautiful. So we’ve had some of the best and worst bathroom experiences. We might need a whole episode.

2 (13m 49s):
And I think we should do an episode on bathrooms around the world. Yes.

3 (13m 54s):
We had a legit one, an Africa cam, and I hate to say you missed out on it, but it was honestly legit. Won’t lie to you about that. We got a view at a public restroom at a rest stop that overlooked rhinos out in the middle of nowhere. I know, I know it was awesome. But the last tip, before we get into this episode and talking about where we went, what we did is that we kind of touched upon it earlier. We did do this during winter, particularly Christmas. As a matter of fact, we were on this cruise during Christmas. But I say this because I highly highly recommend if you’re willing to deal with the cold, just Google European Christmas markets. It’s a thing. Big cities will turn parks and Plaza areas into spots where they have the Christmas markets, where they have local food crafts, things to sell.

3 (14m 40s):
And it’s a unique experience. And I loved it. And so if you are going to do a river cruise, do it during the Christmas market season, you won’t regret it. If you could tolerate the cold,

2 (14m 50s):
You said you were on this cruise on Christmas day,

3 (14m 53s):
On Christmas day,

2 (14m 54s):
Where things open.

3 (14m 56s):
Yes. One, the Christmas market and Salzburg, Austria,

2 (14m 60s):
Because this market is open on Christmas day.

3 (15m 2s):
Christmas market is open on Christmas day and we were in Salzburg, Austria, and everything was open. We got some amazing apricot dumplings. I’m sure you’ve heard us talk about this before. And they were absolutely amazing. So restaurants, coffee shops, things like that are open on Christmas.

2 (15m 19s):
Oh, okay. Okay. Well don’t keep me waiting anymore. Let’s get into the episode. Day, one,

1 (15m 24s):
Day one was primarily just a travel day and we traveled from San Diego to London, London to hungry. We landed in Budapest and we didn’t get to the boat until like 11:00 PM. So that day was pretty much a wash. However, although we arrived super late at night and we missed the dinner there, they were like, are you guys hungry? Cause you’ve been traveling all day and they made us an amazing meal when we got on board.

2 (15m 47s):
Was it?

3 (15m 48s):
I don’t remember what specifically they made us. Do you Brittany? All I remember is that we got in late. We were one of the last people to actually arrive for the itinerary, but the kitchen specifically opened for us to make us food. And it was really, really good. I don’t remember specifically what we had, but that was an unique and awesome experience.

2 (16m 7s):
So another quick question about this style of crew, cause I’ve only been on ocean line cruises. So I know on the cruises I’ve been on, they have free room service and a room service menu. Did they have that on this cruise?

1 (16m 20s):
Not that I remember.

2 (16m 22s):
So if you’re hungry at a non meal hour, you’re kind of screwed,

1 (16m 26s):
But you know, we weren’t really into ordering meal service at that time. And like we stuck to the schedule. So I don’t know if they do and I just don’t remember it. That’s a very big possibility

2 (16m 37s):
Room. Service is one of my favorite things.

3 (16m 40s):
Let alone when it’s free. I know it makes it better. No, I think they do, but I can’t say definitively quite honestly about that. But so yeah, that was our first day just getting in day two was our full day experience and Budapest Hungary. Now I didn’t know this until we were there. Budapest is actually one city, but really two cities. There’s the Buddhist side and then the pest side. So the Buddhist side is known for being quieter and more leisurely. And it’s the old area of the city. The pest side is the new modern side of it. So the city is divided in two, quite literally. And then the Danube River is flowing right between them dividing the sides of the city.

3 (17m 22s):
So what I really like about the Viking river cruises too, is every stop that you’re in, you do have a guided tour. They will give you an included guided tour and itinerary. You can choose to skip it. You can go on it. And if you are somebody who’s a little bit older, can’t be out as long every place that we went, they gave the option for an abbreviated tour. So in the morning they would ask more particularly for elderly people. Do you want to go on the long one? We’re going to be doing this much walking. We’re going to do the shorter tour. If you want to do it, there’s this much walking. So people have options. So it’s conducive for everybody, I think.

2 (17m 57s):
And then speaking of cruise passengers on cruises, I go on typically there’s all ages on guided tours. It’s definitely leans to an older generation. How was this cruise?

1 (18m 9s):
Definitely lean towards the older generation? We were definitely the youngest by far, except for a family who brought their children on board. And then, you know, we were in our mid twenties at this point in time. And I want to say the closest couple on this trip was probably in their mid thirties, but you know, what I do love about guided tours is they give you all of the history of the place. Like when you go visit a city on your own, yes, it’s really cool to like be on your own schedule, but you don’t learn as much because there’s not someone there telling you about the culture and the history and all of that. And so that’s one of the reasons I really love guided tours and that every single day we got a new guided tour for the new city that we were in. So this day we were in Budapest and we went to both sides, Buddha and passed, but we started our day in past and we saw the national opera house and heroes square Hiro square is one of the major squares and has a lot of like important Hungarian features and leaders there.

1 (19m 4s):
So it was a really good place to start our day. And so that’s kind of what we did in past, but then we went to Buddha and we walked along castle hill and there’s a fishermen’s postilion and it has a really awesome lookout it’s right next to the Buddha castle. And it has some of the best panoramic views in Budapest. So that’s definitely a must do whether you’re on this tour or not.

3 (19m 27s):
When we went and we’re on this side overlooking and two passed from Buddha, it was unfortunate in the sense that it was a dreary overcast day and the view was very minimal from our side. It was foggy, but we were able to see across. So I wish we had a better view of it, but this is the side that is really the most impressive it’s the classical side has the castle, the more ancient architecture, if so I enjoyed this area. And one thing that they did have in this area, which I would highly, highly recommend specially for anybody who has a sweet tooth, is go to this one, confectionary called reus worm. It’s the oldest confectionary in hungry number one, and they are known for their cream cakes.

3 (20m 9s):
So I remember we had just gotten done eating not too long ago and we were there and we’re like, oh, we got to pick this up. And we brought it back onto the ship and had it later in the evening with some coffee, really, really nice. But if he likes sweets, this is a good place to go. And again, the oldest confectionary and all of hungry,

1 (20m 26s):
I really enjoyed our day in Budapest. If I go back, I’d love to go to the baths. Have you seen like the,

2 (20m 32s):
I’ve seen the pictures and the outdoor pools?

1 (20m 35s):
Yeah. I’d really love to enjoy that. So I would definitely go back to Hungary. We did see a lot in the day on our city tour and then at night that’s when we started the first sailing and one of the iconic buildings that we sailed past was the parliament building. And it was all lit up at night. It was super beautiful to see it on the water. You just don’t get that view when you’re on land or walking by it, like to see it from the water all lit up at night was amazing.

3 (21m 2s):
One thing too, this was our first experience actually in one of the Christmas markets. So again, we did the guided tour and everything, but again, what I really love about this as the tours are not all day. So you have the opportunity then to go explore the city yourself already having a base knowledge of your surroundings because you were out on the tour. So we went out, we experienced the Christmas market out there and got some street food desserts. What makes it really hard is because I know I have dinner waiting for me on the ship and I’ve already eaten before, but you want to eat all this food too. So you’re going to come back gaining a few pounds. Let’s not kid ourselves

2 (21m 35s):
Like with every cruise,

3 (21m 36s):
Like with every cruise, let alone the fact then that you have the street food that they have special for this time of year. I mean, they had something called chimney cakes, which is a pastry that they cook out on a stick over fire. It comes off. It’s almost, I would hate to call it like a waffle cone, but that’s the thing that I want to equate it to. I mean, when it comes off the stick, it’s almost like a waffle, they stuff it with some sweet treats, some ice cream, other stuff, and lots of other savory food too, if you don’t want the sweets. So I really enjoyed it. Cause this was like an experience that, I mean, they don’t have anything like this in the United States. Should we have certain things for Christmas season, but not all the cities let alone major ones have unique Christmas markets.

3 (22m 17s):
So that was really cool.

2 (22m 18s):
And it was around Christmas time. So about what was the temperature when you were there? I know it was cold. How cold?

3 (22m 25s):
All I know is that the year that we were, there was an abnormally warm year. I remember them telling us that, but it was still cold. I would say maybe the average was 45 degrees. Maybe like 50 as the high.

1 (22m 42s):
Yeah, I would agree. I think that’s what it was. So we had a great day in hungry. Like I said, we sailed past the parliament night and they invite you to go up on the top deck of the boat to view you sailing out of hungry and then towards the broadest Slava, which is super cool. So after we sailed, we went to bed and we woke up and a whole new city

3 (23m 2s):
Brought us lava Slovakia.

2 (23m 4s):
I’ve never heard of this little town. So tell me about it.

3 (23m 7s):
Well, Bratislava is really cool. As a matter of fact, it’s the only capital of any country that borders three countries. Oh, wow. Obviously brought us lava is one of them. So it’s its own. But then it’s at the edge of Austria as well as hungry. So it sits on this little peninsula on the edge right there. So if you get to one point in the city, you know, here in the U S how we have the four corners of the four states, they have a three corners spot, but

1 (23m 32s):
It’s not states it’s

3 (23m 33s):
Country. Yeah. But it’s countries yes.

1 (23m 35s):
Be in three countries at once. So we went to the top of a hill where they brought us lava castle was, and you can actually enjoy those views. That Jamal was just talking about to both Austria and hungry.

3 (23m 47s):
So I know you said you’ve never heard of this place, Kim. I don’t know broadest lava if you’re talking Slovakia, but I’m sure. Maybe if you jog your memory, you’ve heard of Czechoslovakia. Okay. Well that’s no longer a country. It has split up. So now there’s the Czech Republic where Prague is, and then Slovakia here brought us lava. So the Czech Republic and Slovakia used to be one country Czechoslovakia and it split up. So we went obviously now as it is a separate country from where Prague and Czech Republic is.

2 (24m 17s):
Okay. And did they have a Christmas market here? Yeah.

1 (24m 20s):
So you did every place we went to hide at Christmas market. Like when you are in a Christmas market, you see the local crafts, local food. And as you’re walking down the street, all of the smells of all the really good foods, just like pour out. It’s kind of like being at the fair where you’re like, oh my God, what am I going to get to eat? Because there’s just so much to choose from. That’s what it’s like being at a Christmas market.

3 (24m 38s):
That’s what I really liked about our time here and brought us lava was on the city tour that they gave us. They took us through an old part of the city, more of the medieval part of the city. I mean, that’s how much history there is. And as we were going through, I mean, they still have those old cobblestone streets and roads, but they had little markers that were on the floor and they had a crown on it. And our tour guide was telling us, he, you see all these markers, have you noticed them? He said, this is coronation row. This is where, when there was going to be a new king, this was the path that they would take. And, oh, you see this hanging up on the wall. Do you see how it’s the hang man’s cap and the hood that they wear and that you normally see like in movies when they show people about to get hung by the hang man or whatever, he said, he actually used to live down this alley.

3 (25m 24s):
The city used to have its own hang man or executioner. And he had his one place down this way. So this monument is attribute to the fact that he used to live down here. So that’s one of the cool things too. You get that unique history that you don’t really get here in the United States going that far back. So I thought that was really cool and unique about POTUS lava

2 (25m 42s):
At the Christmas markets. Were they very similar in the types of food that they have available? Could you see like a lot of the same stuff?

1 (25m 50s):
Yeah, we did in Hungary and Slovakia, we did see the same types of food. However, once we got into Austria and Germany, it was a little bit different. I think just the change in the countries

3 (26m 1s):
Started to get a little bit more schnitzel out there.

2 (26m 4s):
It’s all young and English. Isn’t their first native language in these countries. So how was it with understanding what it is that they’re selling and communicating, I guess in English?

1 (26m 15s):
Well, I know every morning when ever we were in a country, Jamal would look up keywords of the day, just so that we could get around, you know, bathroom. Hello, thank you. All of that. We obviously got around and we made it, but a lot of people didn’t speak English,

3 (26m 29s):
At least in these countries and hungry and in Slovakia. But once we started to get to Austria and Germany, the majority of people actually spoke English in these countries. I think it’s mandatory that it’s their second or third language. Most people are relatively fluent in it enough, but again, key point where regardless of where you go, even if people know English, it’s always respectful to know those key phrases. So you can at least try to communicate. So I highly recommend that, but we’d really didn’t have issues again, guided tour. But again, when we’re on our own, didn’t really encounter it too much. Let alone, if you’re at the Christmas market, maybe one stand is selling one thing in particular or one particular craft. So all you need to do is just point. They know what you want.

3 (27m 10s):
You really don’t need to communicate further than that.

2 (27m 13s):
So this might be a dumb question, but in hungry, the languages Hungarian, yes. And Slovakia Slovakian

1 (27m 21s):
In Slovakia, they speak Slovak.

2 (27m 24s):
Ooh. Okay.

3 (27m 25s):
So Slovakian is pretty close.

1 (27m 27s):
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1 (28m 40s):
So day four was probably one of my favorite days. We went to Vienna, Austria, and Kim, I know you always say, I talk about Austria all the time, love Austria. So, you know, it’s just so beautiful. Like I think Austria is a very natural, beautiful country. We spent our days in Slovakia and in Hungary in the cities. And so we didn’t experience a lot of nature there, but in Vienna, when we got off the cruise, there was this one area where we saw a lot of nature and mountains and Meadows, and it was just super beautiful. So that was like my first view of Austria. And I love,

3 (29m 16s):
Yeah, one thing I really remember is waking up this morning and we had about an hour and a half before the guided tour was going to start. So Brittany and I said, well, let’s go out for a walk. And again, we’re a longer river. They have a beautiful prominent. And I remember the fog was just settling and starting to clear out, but still foggy had that nice morning crispness to it. And there were some swans out there on the river and we had a nice morning walk and I think really set the mood for us to both really enjoy Austria. But what I like about it is that Austria has a lot of classicness to it like classic European, but with a modern twist, like there’s a lot of modern stuff, but you still have that classic architecture strewn throughout the city.

3 (29m 59s):
So it gives us this awesome contrast of them fighting each other, but really balancing each other out.

2 (30m 4s):
I’m looking at pictures of Vienna and the architecture, this historic architecture, so beautiful

1 (30m 12s):
Baroque architecture.

2 (30m 14s):
Oh, is that the style Baroque? I love that style.

1 (30m 17s):
Yes. And we went on a tour and whenever they were talking about the architecture, she was like, and in the Baroque times, and I just loved repeating that because I’m like, yes, it’s so beautiful. So Vienna is the capital of Austria. And so we did do a walking tour in the city and we also went to St. Stephen’s cathedral, which is a very cool church that I would highly recommend visiting. And you can actually climb the stairs of the tower. So, you know, I like to make it an easy day. So there’s this a very, very narrow, spiraling staircase. It has 343 steps up. And I told him all, I want to go to the top. So we did, I got a beautiful, beautiful lookout to the entire city of Vienna.

3 (30m 60s):
This was a really unique experience. I mean, it’s, again, one of the things that we just don’t get here in the United States is really amazing churches or religious houses, but you go to Europe, they’re all done up and style traditional classic. And then we’re climbing these narrow staircase all the way up to the top. And then it gives you an amazing, amazing view. 360 all around a Vienna and I highly highly recommended.

1 (31m 25s):
And the church itself is a symbol of Vienna. It has a stunning mosaic roof. It’s really tall. And it’s one of the most recognizable buildings in the entire city. I wish we had more time at the church because below the church are catacombs and chambers containing the remains of over 10,000 people.

2 (31m 45s):
That’s

1 (31m 46s):
Creepy, that’s creepy, but crazy. And I haven’t really been below a church into any catacombs. Have you done any of those tourists camp?

2 (31m 53s):
No. There is one in Italy.

3 (31m 56s):
Vatican city. Yes.

2 (31m 58s):
Yes. In the Vatican city, there is a major church and under it are catacombs as well. Also, same situation. Not enough time, not enough planning to make it happen, but definitely something to go back for.

1 (32m 11s):
Yeah, absolutely.

2 (32m 11s):
And you love Vanna so much, so there’s your reason to go back?

1 (32m 14s):
No, so I definitely have to go back and then while we were there, we had coffee at a cafe in Europe. That’s like so common to do you, you can have coffee anytime at a

2 (32m 24s):
Cafe and it just tastes better too.

1 (32m 25s):
It does.

3 (32m 26s):
It really does. It really does.

1 (32m 28s):
And we went to cafe landman and that’s actually a cafe where Sigmund Freud used to go to a lot.

2 (32m 34s):
Oh, did you feel smarter when you were there?

3 (32m 37s):
I felt more judgy looking at everybody and what their complex and issues are in life. That’s what made me remind me of,

1 (32m 44s):
And then we went to another Christmas market or third Christmas market.

2 (32m 47s):
Did you go to a Christmas market in every town you visited

1 (32m 51s):
All except for one,

3 (32m 52s):
But the one that we’re going to talk about that we didn’t do, you’re going to see why this place again, on the next day, wasn’t even on the river, we had to take a bus to it, but it’s a very famous Abbey. So it’s secluded. It’s not really a city where we went

1 (33m 6s):
And in Vienna they have the oldest working Ferris wheel.

2 (33m 10s):
Did you go on it? We

1 (33m 11s):
Did. Absolutely. And it’s not just a traditional Ferris wheel where like you’re sitting there actually kind of like barn style and the barn style Ferris wheel, each room can hold. Like, I want to say like 15 people or so. And you can use it for events, date nights, like all sorts of things.

2 (33m 29s):
I did not understand this when you were first telling me about it. I had to look at the pictures. They’re literally barn structures, barns as the carts, the fares

3 (33m 40s):
Cabin is almost like a wooden home.

2 (33m 43s):
It looks so weird, but cute.

1 (33m 45s):
Yeah. And so like they can set up one for like a romantic dinner date night or they can do when I was like a little party or like some type of event. So I think it’s pretty unique. And to ride the oldest working Ferris wheel in the world, it’s pretty cool.

3 (33m 59s):
That pretty much summed up our experience and Vienna, Austria, and again, beautiful, beautiful city. And I definitely can’t wait to go back.

1 (34m 8s):
So one of the reasons why I love Austria so much is because we spent multiple days in Austria. You know, the day before day four, we spent in Brianna day five, we’re here in Krems and we went to the milk Abby, and then even tomorrow day six, we’re going to be at in Salzburg. So that’s one of the reasons I love Austria so much, but the milk Abby was absolutely amazing. We did a guided tour here, milk Abby is like this huge yellow Benedictine Abbey. It’s above the town of milk and it’s on this overlook that overlooks the Danube River and the valley beneath it. And it has amazing Baroque architecture.

3 (34m 44s):
Sure. This Abbey was founded in the year 1089. So that’s how old it is. I mean, really, really old. And it’s just amazing when you’re there. I mean, Monk’s still a live in this Abbey and it’s unique in the sense that clearly even though monks to live in there, we can actually, as tourists or even locals for that matter can go in and tour the Abbey.

1 (35m 9s):
We saw so many frescoes painted everywhere in the Abbey. You have to look

2 (35m 15s):
Him, what’s a fresco.

1 (35m 17s):
Frescoes are like the, the paintings, like on church walls of like the scenes in the Bible. Do you know what I’m talking about? Yeah. I’m sure you saw it a lot in Italy. Probably just didn’t realize they were called frescoes. Yes. And they’re just so intricate with like the amount of detail and like this Abby, it was huge. And on the ceilings, even they had these like really grand paintings that were just so beautiful and they just like make you feel so insignificant and you wonder like, how did they put this much detail and decor into something that’s so old?

3 (35m 50s):
Yeah. And the Abbey is also famous for its library that it has, it’s actually world renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. And I think they even told us that one of the oldest books in existence, that’s still surviving is held in the library in this monastery and Abbey. So you used to in the past be able to take photos of it and they would obviously tell you, and I’m sure if we’ve been a lot of touristy places, they tell you could take photos, but no flash, the flash actually ruins the paintings and certain objects, but people would take it with the flash and it ruined it. So we didn’t get a photo, but one of the oldest books in existence is in this Abbey and it’s on display, which was really cool and unique to see.

3 (36m 31s):
And even for how old it is, it’s bound and gilded and it has all this stuff on it. And it’s just like, you can’t see anything like that here in the United States.

2 (36m 39s):
It’s really cool.

1 (36m 40s):
Yeah. And that’s what made the milk. Abby, just so unique was everything was gilded. Everything was grand. It wasn’t like we were in a church. It was like we were in a palace.

3 (36m 49s):
And as a matter of fact, this day was the only day that I think we did sailing during light hours. So when we were done at the Abbey, we did a little bit more sailing woke up the next day, which was Christmas day and Salzburg, Austria. And if you guys don’t know Salzburg, Austria, maybe you’re familiar with the movie, the sound of music. It was filmed here in Salzburg, Austria. So people who love that movie want to go here. But even beyond that, it’s an amazing and unique city to visit. Kim,

1 (37m 19s):
Have you seen the sound of music?

2 (37m 21s):
No, I haven’t.

3 (37m 22s):
Have you heard of it? At least

2 (37m 23s):
I’ve heard of it, but that’s as far as it goes,

1 (37m 26s):
Okay. Before we went that night, they actually played the sound of music on the boat. And that was actually the first time that I watched it, but very famous musical.

3 (37m 36s):
I’ve seen it a million times. My parents love that movie. I’ve seen it honestly over probably 20, 25 times in my life.

2 (37m 43s):
Can you recite any quotes from that movie?

1 (37m 46s):
You can sing a lot of songs like DOE a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden

3 (37m 52s):
Sun. Never heard that. No Crazy. Crazy. I

1 (37m 56s):
Don’t know how you don’t know that song. Like I knew that song even before we went there and before I even watched the sound

3 (38m 4s):
Music will sound and music aside let’s get into Salzburg

1 (38m 7s):
While there’s a lot of, you know, like when there’s a really popular movie filmed in a location, they have a lot of those sites. So Salzburg does have that for the sound of music. So we did explore the Mirabell gardens, which is featured in the sound of music. We went in winter. So they weren’t as grand as they normally are. But the Mirabella gardens are known in Salzburg,

3 (38m 28s):
Not even to Salzburg in Europe. And even though a scene in that movie was filmed at these gardens. If you didn’t know any better that it was, you would still want to go here because these are grand European gardens. They have topiaries, beautiful colors, unique with the setting of the old architecture, old buildings in the background. So you really do want to go to it. And it’s one of the most famous things to do in the city is go to the mirror, bell gardens. Also, this is the city in which Mozart was born, the famous composer. So there’s a lot of homage in this town and city to Mozart himself.

1 (39m 4s):
Yeah. So we did do a walking tour with our guided tour and they were telling us about how Mozart so famous there, because that’s where he was born. That’s where he lived. And so they had these chocolate balls that were called Mozart balls that you have to get. And you have to try

2 (39m 21s):
Tell me about it.

3 (39m 22s):
You gotta put Mozart’s balls in your mouth apparently.

2 (39m 25s):
And it was good.

1 (39m 26s):
Yeah. They’re small. They’re round

2 (39m 28s):
Small balls,

1 (39m 29s):
Small balls, you know, to easily put in your mouth, but they’re made out of a pistachio and marzipan. Do you know what that is? It’s like a little nugget kind of flavor

2 (39m 39s):
And

1 (39m 39s):
It’s covered with dark chocolate.

2 (39m 40s):
So about how many balls do you think you could fit in your mouth?

1 (39m 43s):
I mean, I can fit a lot of balls in my mouth, so I don’t know, at least six

2 (39m 50s):
At a time. It’s a lot of balls

3 (39m 52s):
When you’re here. You do have to try this and going back to the question that you had earlier, I think I may have mentioned it when we started talking about Salzburg, but this was Christmas day and things were open. So we were able to get the Mozart balls from different shops. They

2 (40m 7s):
Tried multiple different balls.

3 (40m 8s):
I think we picked it up at two locations because we got sold a small pack, liked it. And we’re like, we got to get some more for later and we got it from a different place. So I mean, it’s one style of chocolate covered balls if you will, but you can get them in multiple places. We also did go to cafe Mozart, hello, named after him, but they had amazing apricot dumplings. So we ended up going to the cafe, getting some coffee, having the dumplings, experiencing the Christmas market out here also that was still open. So we had some sweet treats, some savory food. I mean, I never thought I would have schnitzel for Christmas. And I had schnitzel for Christmas, all one of the many things I ate during Christmas.

3 (40m 50s):
So Salzburg is a really fun, unique city and I really enjoyed it. And one of the things that I really regretted is that the river cruise actually had an optional extension to do a Mozart concert. And we did not go to that. And then everyone who came back said, oh, it was absolutely amazing should have done it. And that’s a big regret that I have. I know. And it had been really nice to do that on Christmas.

1 (41m 11s):
No, I was just going to say the same thing, Jamal. I don’t have a lot of regrets, but the way that people were talking about that Mozart concert made it sound phenomenal. And I wish we went to just experience that. And I’m sad that we didn’t, but if we go back to Austria, which you know, I am so down to duke, cause I talk about Austria all the time. We’ll definitely do a Mozart concert

2 (41m 30s):
Because you were on this cruise on Christmas day, did the Viking river cruises do anything on board special for Christmas?

3 (41m 38s):
They had a specific Christmas dinner like traditional European Christmas day,

2 (41m 43s):
Which is what’s different between European and American Christmas dinner.

3 (41m 48s):
It’s definitely not a Turkey that much. I could tell you, you know, a lot of the popular meats to have as the main entree could either be like duck goose rabbit. We had a roast and the accompany mints on the side is usually like an apple sausage stuffing, some red cabbage, potato dumplings, et cetera. Usually the typical desserts, not much is really different from their desserts to what we have over here. But the main entree is usually, like I said, either the duck goose or a type of roast, and we had the roast,

1 (42m 17s):
You know, Kim, you asked her about, did they do anything special that day? And we didn’t really talk about the meals on board a lot, but every place that we went to dinner that night was based off of the area where we were in that day. Like the day that we were in Budapest, they did a Hungarian feast as we sailed away. So they do try to theme it up to the area that you’re in or the events that you’re experiencing. So like Christmas, they had something special

2 (42m 41s):
And on ocean liners in the meal rooms and the formal dining rooms, you can order as many appetizers, as many desserts, as many entrees as you want. Some limited food. Was that also the case on the river cruise

3 (42m 56s):
Oo

1 (42m 57s):
And unlimited beer and

2 (42m 58s):
Wine. That is nice.

3 (42m 60s):
You get nice and toasty with those unlimited drinks, which was really fun and cool,

1 (43m 4s):
You know, and there are multiple course meals because we’re not at a buffet. All of these meals are coming to order. So they bring up bread baskets, they bring out wine, they bring up beer, you can pick an appetizer or a dessert in a main

2 (43m 16s):
Stomach. All this is making me hungry.

1 (43m 18s):
Yeah. So really, really good food. And we haven’t really hyped it up until now, but the food was part of the Viking river cruise experience.

3 (43m 25s):
So that was our Christmas experiencing it in Salzburg. Again, biggest regret is not doing that Mozart concert. I mean, I still think about it quite honestly, but from there we sailed through the night, woke up and a new country and Pascal Germany, and this is a unique, quaint little town. And I really, really enjoyed it. You know, when you think of Germany, my, I think of the bigger cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, but here we are on this quiet little quaint city, just at the edge, over the Austrian border here and to Germany.

1 (43m 57s):
Yeah. And so what’s really unique about Pascal is there are three rivers that come to meet at this area. So it’s a huge flood risk. And we came at the right time in the right year because the last major flood was in like 2013 and the city center was 42 feet underwater. Oh my gosh. How much?

3 (44m 16s):
Yeah. So the Danube is the main river and then you have two other rivers that flow into this area that EAN river and the liens river. And so one of the churches along the Danube River actually has a scale where it shows the meter level of some of the major floods that the city has had throughout its history. So for example, and I’m giving a hypothetical is like, oh, in 1482, it was this high and 1500. It was this high, et cetera, et cetera. So on a church, a beautiful classic European style church, it has that meter gauge that shows how much the city has been under water due to its historic floods.

2 (44m 52s):
So 42 feet sounds like a lot. And it’s happened before, are the buildings built on like stilts or higher up to prevent damage from flooding like that?

1 (45m 2s):
I know that a lot of the buildings have multiple floors and like the bottom floors they aren’t known to flood. So they don’t put a lot in the bottom shops or they know like they have to move it up at certain times. Like, so they’ve kind of made it so that when it floods, they have some other options other than their stuff getting destroyed.

3 (45m 18s):
And I remember our tour guide actually telling us that this is the only city in Germany where they do not insure people. You have to specifically get it from the government because no insurance company is going to insure them because they know it floods there all the time.

1 (45m 32s):
And so this was the day after Christmas. So you asked if we went to a Christmas market every day and we did every day, but this day, because the day after Christmas, they pretty much closed everything down. And so there wasn’t a lot of shops open. There wasn’t a lot of stores open at all, but what we did get was the city to ourselves. So when we went on, those walking tour was down these cobblestone streets, see all the architecture, the city was just to us, like we got to experience it all by ourselves. And that was really cool in itself.

3 (46m 2s):
Yeah. And here in Pascal, there is another cathedral, the St. Stephen’s cathedral from Vienna here we are to LaSalle. They have another one, but it’s really unique. It actually has the largest organ in a church in all of Europe and this cathedral right here. So that was really unique. I think it was what is it? 17,000 plus pipes on that Oregon

1 (46m 24s):
Breezy. It was really impressive to see. And there is a fortress in Pissarro as well. That was founded in 1219. That’s how old it is. It’s called vest day, Ober, hos, and it’s on a cliff and you climb up and you get amazing views of looking down onto the Danube and into Pacelle.

3 (46m 42s):
Yeah, I would highly recommend it. That’s the best view of the city you’re going to get from that fortress looking over. But ironically things are open on Christmas, but the day after Christmas things are closed. And so the only things that were open was really the churches that we were able to go into and just roaming the streets. And I think it gave a nice little eerie, but cool eerie experience of seeing a city in Europe, just so empty, but classic.

1 (47m 5s):
So we actually stayed on our Viking river cruise again that night, the next day, we didn’t make it to a new destination on the boat because that was the end of our tour. But Jamal and I did extend our trip and we flew to France and went to Paris and Germany that we always talk about. So it was a really amazing honeymoon vacation.

2 (47m 26s):
I know I’ve been asking a ton of questions this entire episode. It sounds really fun. The architecture looks freaking amazing. And I, I would love just to go to see that, but we do have a couple of questions of the week if you’re ready for it. We’re

3 (47m 39s):
Writing

2 (47m 47s):
Okay. First question river cruise or ocean liner, which one is better?

3 (47m 52s):
Ooh, this is tough. I don’t know if there is a proper answer to that. I think it really depends. Now ocean liners are going to give you a more inclusive experience on the ship and what I mean by that as the shows, the pool, the hot tub, other activities and things to do. But your time at port is short and limited. Whereas the ocean cruises, I would say the food is better. The service is better. You’re at port longer, but you don’t have those other activities. So if you’re going on the cruise to actually get activities and things to do and experience the ship, then the ocean liner is going to be better. But if you’re actually going, because I want to go on a cruise and experience the city itself and have time then River cruises.

3 (48m 35s):
So I think it depends on what you want.

1 (48m 37s):
Yeah. I really do think it depends on what you want and like what you’re geared for. I think to go on an ocean liner in the Caribbean, like that’s great, but if you’re wanting to go through Europe, definitely more of a river cruise. My dad actually did a river cruise down the Rhine river in France. And he did just like wine tasting the whole time, which sounds really amazing. He really enjoyed that trip. So I think it just depends on like your style and the type of travel you want to do.

2 (49m 5s):
And then our second question of the week is what country from those crews do you most want to go back to let me guess piss out Germany?

3 (49m 14s):
Well, ironically Kim, I was going to say Germany now Brittany’s gonna say Austria. I hate to steal that thunder from her. I know she’s going to say it, but I’m going to say Germany, not because Pascal wowed me, but because it was the only part of Germany we really got to see, and I actually want to see more of Germany. So even though I only saw that small little portion at left, me wanting more of the bigger stuff there is to do in Germany.

1 (49m 38s):
Yeah. And you’re right. I do want to go back to Austria. I’d love to go to Austria in the summer and do some hiking. Cause it has a lot of beautiful nature. But if I didn’t go back to Austria, I would pick hungry specifically to go to the pools and the bath houses and those areas. So

2 (49m 53s):
Cool and then I just have one last question from me. I know when you book a guided tour for through gate one or another cruise line, you pay your deposit and then you’re able to put money towards the trip and pay it off in time. Leading up to your trip. Is that also the case with Viking river cruises?

3 (50m 10s):
That’s a really good question, Kim. The answer to that is yes. I think a lot of cruises, whether it’d be cruises that are guided tours, always required a deposit. I’ve never really seen it like all in one shot. So Viking is the same way.

2 (50m 23s):
That’s awesome. And I think that that’s not like widely known information that can really make travel more accessible to a lot of people to know that you only have to pay a certain amount of money. And then for the next six months, nine months, or however long leading up to your trip, you’ve booked it out. You have the opportunity to put money towards it every month that can really create opportunities for people. So I want everybody to know that.

1 (50m 48s):
Yeah, that’s a really good point, Kim. Cause when we went to Ecuador, we had booked it for us to go in 2020 and we only had to put a $200 deposit down. And so for the next six months I just kind of broke up the cost. Like how much do we have to save every month to have the amount for when we have to put down a final amount? Right. And so, you know, I put like $400 a month down for like six months and I had enough and then the trip got canceled because of COVID. But then I already had that money on the side and then some extra. So it worked out really nice and like really perfect. And you didn’t have to put all of that money up front.

2 (51m 22s):
Beautiful. Alright. Squaddies that’s all we have for you this week. I hope you enjoyed this epic, romantic honeymoon adventure in the Danube River. Thank you so much for tuning in this week. Keep the adventures going with us by following us on Instagram and YouTube Travel Squad Podcast, tag us in your adventures and send us in your questions of the week.

3 (51m 41s):
If you found the information, this episode to be useful, or if you thought we’re just playing funny, please be sure to share with a friend that would enjoy it too. And as always, please subscribe, rate and review our podcast and tune in every travel Tuesday for new episodes,

1 (51m 55s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, we have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for you.

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