Day 12 – July 19, 2018 (Thur) – Budapest to Vienna

Budapest to Vienna – July 19
Steps walked: 7,558         Floors climbed: 7 Distance walked: 5.5 km
Details Time Notes
Scenic cruising including Hainburg & Devin Castle am
Brunch at Blue 12:00 PM
hair appointment 2:00 PM
Galley Tour (signed up at front desk) 3:00 PM informative!
packing 4:00 PM
Early dinner at Bistro Mozart 5:30 PM
Mozart arrived at Vienna 6:10 PM
Walked to Vorgartenstrasse (Subway U1) 6:20 PM
Took the subway to HOHO Night Bus Tour 7:30 PM
Subway from Karlsplatz to Prater 8:30 PM
Arrived at Giant Ferris Wheel 8:50 PM
Took the subway back to Vorgartenstrasse 9:50 PM
Took the eBike to ride along the pier 10:30 PM
Joined Derek at Cove Bar for “Til We Meet Again” 11:00 PM

We slept in and when we woke up, we just passed by the beautiful Hainburg.

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After our last lunch at Blue, I had a hair appointment at the salon. The experience was greatly relaxing.

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At 3 pm, we had a Galley Tour. Only 2 groups of 15 guests each were accommodated, so make sure you sign up early if you’d like to join the tour. We were greeted with champagne and were shown the very neat kitchen with only a couple of staff members working there. Chef Juraj provided a lot of information during the tour.

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After a quick dinner at the Mozart Bistro, we walked to Vorgartenstrasse and used the 48-hour Vienna Card that we bought on embarkation day to take the subway Line U1 to Vienna State Opera where the Big Bus Hop On Hop Off night tour started. Although it was still very bright outside, it was a very interesting tour with great narration in English. We were lucky to get the last 2 seats on the bus. It cost 17 Euros each.

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Although we have been going around the Ring Road many times with Crystal, it was a better experience with the narration and the map in hand. Then we took the subway to Prater to board the Giant Ferris Wheel, situated in a big amusement park.

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We were able to view beautiful sunset aboard the Ferris Wheel, using the Vienna City Card.

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The night view was gorgeous!

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Then we took the subway back to Vorgartenstrasse and walked back to the ship. Brian rode the eBike along the pier.

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Then we went to the Cove Bar to join Derek and the guests. I did a “Sound of Music” sing along on the piano to bid farewell to everyone.

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Couldn’t believe it’s the last night on board the wonderful Crystal Mozart!

Day 11 – July 18, 2018 (Wed) – Budapest

Budapest – July 18
Steps walked: 5,799         Floors climbed: 7 Distance walked: 4.1 km
Details Time Notes
Breakfast at Waterside 8:00 AM
Ship Tour: Feast for the Senses: 9:00 AM Guide: Brigitta
                   Parliament Building & the excellent
                   Great Market Hall (BUD-03)
walked back to ship from Market Hall 11:30 AM
lunch at Blue 12:00 PM
sail to Vienna 12:00 PM
Trivia with Derek 1:15 PM did not attend
scenic cruising along the Danube pm
Life & works of Mozart at Palm Court with Sonja 2:15 PM did not attend
Apple Strudel Demonstration with Sebastian 3:15 PM did not attend
Dinner at Waterside with Gerry & Marianne 7:30 PM
Social time at Cove Bar 9:30 PM

Our 31st Anniversary today!! We were greeted by a beautiful morning in Budapest. After breakfast, we boarded our coach to the Hungarian Parliament Building, the iconic landmark of Budapest, crowned by a magnificent central dome and hailed as the city’s tallest building. We had to follow very strict security check-in and the tour was led by a parliament guide with excellent English. Here is the map of the building:

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This interesting feature was a cigar holder on which members of the parliament left their cigars on the numbered tray and took them back after the meeting.

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The interior was stunning and we even saw the changing of the guards but we were not allowed to pictures. There was a small elevator for those who could not do the stairs.

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Then we drove past about 60 pairs of shoes cast out of iron by sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay.  It was a moving memorial that they created to these Holocaust atrocities that sat in front of the magnificent Parliament building on the edge of the Danube river. Different sizes and styles reflected how nobody was spared from the brutality of the Arrow Cross militia (the shoes depicted children, women, businessmen, sportsmen etc.) in 1944 – 1945. Those people were victims who were shot into the Danube. They were forced to strip naked on the banks of the Danube and face the river in the freezing cold weather; a firing squad then shot the prisoners at close range in the back so that they fell into the river to be washed away.

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Next we went to the Great Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. I bought a lot of souvenirs there. A small group followed the guide to sample different food and drinks.

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It only took us 10 minutes to walk to the ship from the market.

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Crystal Mozart doubled parked with Thurgau Silence, which had to move away so our ship could leave at 12 noon.

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Good bye, beautiful Budapest!

Day 10 (con’t) – July 17, 2018 (Tue) – Violin concert and night cruising, Budapest

Now we have come to my favourite evening of the whole cruise. Being a classical concert pianist, I didn’t really enjoy the very modernized concert with loud taped background music to create the sound effect and modern feel, although the 3 “Princesses” played with excellent techniques. I guess it was necessary to cater for the rest of the audience so they wouldn’t get bored.

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I enjoyed the beautiful grounds where the concert was held, Budapest History Museum on the Castle Hill. Nonetheless, we had to walk on cobble stones for over 5 minutes so Crystal recommended “No High Heeled Shoes due to walking conditions”. In the concert hall, it was boiling hot, even one of the performers had to stop and wipe her sweat with a towel.

After the concert, we took some beautiful photographs of the grounds while walking back to the coach.

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When we got back to the ship, Crystal Mozart sailed away for a night cruise on the Danube. It was very windy so I wrapped myself in a comfy blanket, enjoying tons of finger food and drinks, while my husband took many beautiful pictures. Though it was so cold, lots of us were on the Vista Deck. It was a great 2-hour night cruise.

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This is the Liberty Bridge that was close to where we docked (Pontoon 8):

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Next we sailed past the Elisabeth Bridge:

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Then the famous Chain Bridge close to the Palace:

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The stunning Castle Hill at night:

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My husband is a civil engineer so he took lots of pictures about bridges, here is one of the many:

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You don’t need a good camera to take a shot of the fully illuminated parliament:

IMG_0967It’s a pity that we only got to spend one night in Budapest. We’ll definitely return to this beautiful city.

Day 10 (con’t) – July 17, 2018 (Tue) – Szechenyi Spa, Budapest

After lunch, we hopped on to a taxi that Crystal called for us to Szechenyi Spa, originally built in 1913. The taxi fare was only 3,000 Forint, according to the meter. It was great that we could share this with another couple from the ship. It’s 10 Euros if not paid in Hungarian Forint. The journey took only 15 minutes and the traffic was quite light. We got in from the entrance opposite to the Circus and the line-up was huge. Luckily we bought the VIP entry so the line was so much shorter that we got to the counter in less than 10 minutes.

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VIP package meant we could have a private little cabin for each of us as a change room. The room operated (locked/opened) using the digital bracelet that we got and it was quite spacious so we didn’t have to worry about our belongings or leave them in lockers. We were also given shower gel/shampoo, flip flops and a towel but we opted not to use those as we brought our own for hygienic purpose.

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This was the map of the spa to show the 18 outdoor/indoor natural hot springs with different temperatures, 10 saunas / steam cabins and several rooms for massage therapies.

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Here’s the huge outdoor baths:

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A few of the indoor ones:

 

There were a few massage areas with many treatment rooms.  The rooms were all spacious and the service was very relaxing. Both my husband and myself enjoyed the 1-hour thermal massage a lot.

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We spent about 3 hours at the spa. The shower stalls were all private and the facilities were very well-run. We just had to tell the girl who led us to our change cabins that we paid for the private cabin and had a massage with the set time on the ticket, otherwise she would take us to the public locker area. A few taxis were waiting at the entrance so it was easy to get one to take us back to the ship. Our return journey cost double of what we paid, not sure why, might be because of the time, a bit of traffic jam, but we knew the driver did not take a longer route. It was a side trip that I would highly recommend.

Day 10 – July 17, 2018 (Tue) – Budapest

Budapest – July 17
Steps walked: 8,784         Floors climbed: 14 Distance walked: 6.3 km
Details Time Notes
Breakfast at Waterside 8:00 AM
Ship delayed entering Budapest 9:00 AM
Ship Tour: Beautiful Budapest (BUD-01) 9:45 AM Guide: Eva
drove around the city for major sights very funny
Visited Castle Hill 10:50 AM
boarded coach to go back to ship 12:30 PM
Buffet lunch at Waterside 12:50 PM
Took a taxi to Szechenyi Spa 2:00 PM taxi fare: 3000 forints
Private Tour: Budapest Szechenyi Spa 2:30 PM
     with VIP Massage (5808P30)
taxi back to ship 5:30 PM taxi fare: 6000 forints
Buffet dinner at Waterside 6:15 PM
Signature Event: Princesses of Violin at 7:20 PM very commercialized
       Budapest History Museum (BUD-08) with loud background
      “3 Princesses of Violin” music, great techniques
boarded coach to go back to ship 9:10 PM
Budapest by Night Cruising 9:30 PM beautiful but very windy

The ship was about 45 minutes late entering Budapest, so it gave us some time to watch the ship arrive at beautiful Budapest.

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At 9:45 am, we started to tour around both sections of Hungary’s vibrant capital, Buda and Pest. Following along Andrassy Blvd., we reached the Heroes’ Square, with its statue featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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Then we crossed the Elisabeth Bridge to the Buda side where the Castle Hill was located, driving past the Royal Palace.

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After we got off the coach, there was a 10-minute easy uphill walk to reach the Matthias Church and the seven towers of the Fisherman’s Bastion.

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We visited one of the terraces to enjoy the sweeping panoramic view of Budapest from Castle Hill, plus a very nice and enjoyable surprise prepared for us by Crystal.

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Day 9 – July 16, 2018 (Mon) – Bratislava

Bratislava – July 16
Steps walked: 6,571         Floors climbed: 4 Distance walked: 4.7 km
Details Time Notes
Scenic cruising including Hainburg & Devin Castle am
Brunch at Blue 12:00 PM
Ship Tour: Bratislava’s Ultimate Survivor: 3:30 PM
              Chatam Sofer Memorial (BTS-04)
Bratislava on our own 5:20 PM
Boarded trolley for a 30-min Old Town Tour 5:25 PM
Walked around in town 6:00 PM
“Pressburger Duo” show in Palm Court 6:15 PM WE MISSED IT!!!
Back to ship, booked Bistro dinner 7:05 PM
Dinner at Bistro Mozart 7:30 PM
Social time at Cove Bar 9:30 PM

After passing through Hainburg, then Devin with its castle, we reached Bratislava in Slovakia in the afternoon. We docked with the Starboard side facing a very long pier which almost spanned the whole length of the ship.

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We first went to the Bratislava Castle, built in the 9th century on a hilltop, overlooking the beautiful Danube. We didn’t go inside the castle.

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Then we went to Chatam Sofer Memorial, an old Jewish cemetery where hundreds of rabbis and teachers were buried.

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Then we went to the Old Town to tour the Museum of Jewish Culture in Slovakia and the oldest Jewish settlement in the city. To be honest, the visit of the cemetery and the museum was something I didn’t enjoy much, after learning so much in Poland about the Holocaust and Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The walk through the Old Town was quite interesting. When we saw the Old Town Trolley, we told the guide that we would hop on it and went back to the ship by ourselves. That was a smart move as we saw a bit more of Bratislava and we didn’t have to walk, though I was very happy to walk past the residences of Mozart and Beethoven.

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Of course we had to take a picture of the bronze statue of Cumil the Sewer Worker.

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When we walked back to the ship, we made reservations to eat at Bistro Mozart again. The Bistro waitress, Emese, was always friendly and helpful. This time we had a little bit of difference in our appetizer:

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The side of the main course was mashed potatoes instead of mushrooms. Best of all, the view of the sunset was amazing. It didn’t look like we were on a river at all…the water’s wide!

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Day 8 – July 15, 2018 (Sun) – Passau

Passau – July 15
Steps walked: 4,911         Floors climbed: 8 Distance walked: 3.5 km
Details Time Notes
Breakfast at Waterside 8:30 AM
Ship Tour: Roman Times and Roman 10:15 AM Guide: Roman
                   Dishes (PSU-01) excellent English
Back to ship 12:45 PM
Lunch at Blue 1:00 PM
watched the locks at the spa relaxation area 2:30 PM
watched world cup final at Palm Court 5:00 PM
Dinner at Waterside 7:30 AM
Social time at Cove Bar 10:00 PM

This morning, we had breakfast at 8:30 am before Waterside closed at 9 am. We got all items before 9 am, then we could sit and enjoy our breakfast even though the buffet was closed. We joined a surprisingly informative and interesting excursion this morning called “Roman Times and Roman Dishes”. We went to the Roman Museum of Passau, Museum Kastell Boiotro.

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Our guide, Roman, was super good with excellent English. Throughout the 2-hour excursion, we gained insightful perspective on what daily life was like in Passau 1000 years ago when the city was part of the Roman Empire. The museum is very modern, but it was built on the foundation of the Roman Fort Boiotro, with some remains of the military fortification both outside and inside of the museum.

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The fun part was we got to make a Roman snack with Romaine lettuce, cheese spread of feta, pepper, coriander, honey, garlic, a little vinegar and oil. We were also offered a sweet Roman wine and grape juice with honey & pepper.

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We also tasted the Roman dessert made of dates, filled with honey, almonds and pepper. All of them were delicious!

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It was unfortunate that there was no time to explore Passau on our own after the excursion.  If I had known that there were shuttles from ship to Passau at 9:30 am, 10:15 am & 11 am, I would have joined the earlier group of the same excursion that started at 8:45 am so I could have some time to explore Passau. Shuttles from Passau to ship were at 10:30 am, 11:45 am & 12:30 pm.

Passau was one port that we had to get off from ship to pier from the top Vista Deck (Deck 4), that might be an issue with those who are less mobile. Also, it double-parked with NickoVision so ALL staterooms on the Starboard side were in complete darkness against the concrete pier. Whereas staterooms on the Port side were tied with NickoVision. We were lucky because in order to line up the entrance, NickoVision moved back and so my suite DID NOT get blocked at all.  Hooray! Another eveidence to prove the excellent location of my room!

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Here showed the gangway from the top deck to the pier:

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As usual, we lunch at Blue, my favourite lunch spot!

In the afternoon, we relaxed in the spa waiting area where the whirlpool & the swimming pool were located and watched the boat enter/exit the locks.

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My husband even set up his video camera on the tripod while he himself relaxed on the lounger.

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Then my husband and a lot of other passengers gathered at Palm Court to watch World Cup Final. They were furious when the satellite signals were weak at times and the screen blacked out or frozen many times. I used my data to watch it so I had no problems, though the screen on my phone was way smaller.

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We didn’t attend “The not so newly wed game”, so sorry, no comments on the event.