Danube River Cruise on Crystal Mozart (July 7 – 23, 2018)

Here is a more concise trip report that I posted on Cruise Critic:

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2561048-trip-report-crystal-mozart-july-10-20-2018/

Finally the day is here! It’s a really long wait since we booked the cruise on March 23, 2017. I chose this itinerary mainly because we have an overnight stay in Vienna both at the beginning and at the end of the cruise. This 10-day cruise also includes a few full day tours to visit Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov & Munich.

Here is the itinerary map:

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My full itinerary:

DatecityDetailsStart timeEnd time
7-JulYYZ-VIEAustrian Airlines OS72  YYZ-VIE5:55 PM8:30 AM
(Sat)Depart T1 (duration: 8 hr 35 min)(Sat)(Sun)
July 8-102-night Salzburg Pre-cruise
8-JulVienna Airport→ leave luggage at baggage service €4-8
(Sun)SalzburgOBB Train RJ640 (€29 – 1st class + €3 seat selection)10:33 AM1:48pm
Flughafen Wien Bahnhof → Salzburg HBF
Hotel Goldener Hirsch, Salzburg12:00 PM12:00 PM
Getreidegasse 37, Salzburg, 5020
(43) (662) 80840
pick up Salzburg cards at Tourist Info9:00 AM6:00 PM
Mozartplatz Sq. #5
Salzach River Cruise4:00 PM5:00 PM
funicular up to Salzburg Fortress
VIP dinner at Panorama Restaurant  -€76 each (VIP concert + dinner)6:30 PM8:00 PM
VIP concert at Golden Hall8:30 PM10:00 PM
Fortress Hohensalzburg
Monchsberg 34, 5020 Salzburg
9-JulSalzburgHotel Goldener Hirsch, Salzburg
(Mon)dinner before Sound of Salzburg Show – €20 each7:30 PM8:00 PM
Sound of Salzburg Show – €32 each8:00 PM
Sternbrau, Griesgasse 23, Salzburg
10-JulSalzburg → OBB Train RJ763 (€34 – 1st class + €3 seat selection)8:08 AM10:57 AM
(Tue)ViennaSalzburg HBF → Flughafen Wien Bahnhof
Pick up luggage at airport
Meet Crystal rep left of arrival hall
 July 10 – 20 10-night Danube River Cruise
10-JulViennaCrystal Mozart (RMZ180710-10)12:00 PMover-night
(Tue)(overnight)(check-in: after 12 noon)    Handelskai
Ship Tour: Austria in a Nutshell (VIE-02)2:00 PM6:00 PM
pick up Vienna 24-hr card at Train Station or Opera House’ Tourist Info
11-JulViennaShip Tour: Exclusive Museum of Fine Arts & Art Chamber (VIE-05)9:00 AM1:00 PM
(Wed)(departs 12 am)
Ship Tour: Imperial Schonbrunn Palace & Royal Carriage Museum (VIE-04)2:00 PM6:30 AM
Complimentary Signature Event: Michelin-Star Dining at Le Ciel by Toni Morwald (VIE-16)7:00 PM10:00 PM
12-JulDurnsteinShip Tour: Durnstein Walking Tour & Monastery (DUE-03)10:00 AM12:00 PM
(Thur)(9 am – 12 pm)
MelkShip Tour: Melk Abbey: a Baroque Masterpiece (MLK-02)4:30 PM6:30 PM
(4:30 – 7 pm)
13-JulLinzShip Tour: Czesky Full-day Adventure to Cesky Krumlov (LNZ-03)9:00 AM5:30 PM
(Fri)(8 am – 9 pm)
14-JulPassauShip Tour: A Day of Art & Culture in Munich (PSU-05)8:30 AM7:55 PM
(Sat)(8 am-overnight)
15-JulPassau Ship Tour: Roman Times and Roman Dishes (PSU-01)10:15 AM12:15 PM
(Sun)(departs 1 pm)
16-JulBratislavaShip Tour: Bratislava’s Ultimate Survivor: Chatam Sofer Memorial (BTS-04)3:30 PM7:00 PM
(Mon)(3 – 8 pm)
17-JulBudapestShip Tour: Beautiful Budapest (BUD-01)9:30 AM2:00 PM
(Tue)(9 am-overnight)   use taxi or metro to the city spa
Private Tour: Budapest Szechenyi Spa with VIP Massage – €80 each3:00 PM7:00 PM
Signature Event: Princesses of Violin at Budapest History Museum (BUD-08)7:20 PM9:50 PM
18-JulBudapestShip Tour: Feast for the Senses: Parliament Building & the  Great Market Hall (BUD-03)8:45 AM12:15 PM
(Wed)(departs 1 pm)
19-JulVienna
(Thur)(arrives 6 pm) pick up Vienna 72-hr card at Train Station or Opera House’ Tourist Info
20-Jul (Fri)Viennadisembark any time
July 20-222-night Vienna Post-cruise
20-JulViennataxi to Hotel Bristol
(Fri)Hotel Bristol, A Luxury Collection Hotel3:00 PM12:00 PM
Kaerntner Ring 1, Vienna 1010 Austria(10 am
(43) (1) 515160requested)
Concert: Vienna Mozart Orchestra at Musikverein – €85 each8:15 PM
Musikvereinplatz 1, A-1010 Wien
21-Jul (Sat)Vienna
Concert: Mozart Requiem at St. Charles Church – €46 each (Cat I)8:15 PM
22-JulVIE – YYZtake CAT from Main Station to Airport7:07 AM7:23 AM
(Sun)Austrian Airlines OS71  VIE-YYZ (T3- T1) Depart T3 (duration: 9 hr 30 min)10:40 AM2:10 PM

We used Austrian Airlines for the first time, mainly because they have direct flights to Vienna from Toronto. I chose to redeem my Aeroplan miles but still had to pay $600 tax for an economy round-trip ticket. Regular price was around $1500 return. I also paid $110 extra to get the preferred seats both ways with extra legroom located at the emergency row 19 (on a 76W aircraft). I brought my inflatable foot stool along so I had no problem sleeping for 6 out of the 8 hours’ flight. It was like sleeping on a lounger…very comfortable. I found it even more comfortable than the premium economy seats. However, the food was SOOOO bad, only the dessert and the coffee were good. Chicken was dry and pasta quite tasteless.

Day 1 – July 8, 2018 (Sun) – Toronto to Vienna to Salzburg

Salzburg – July 8
Steps walked: 13,631         Floors climbed: 21Distance walked: 9.5 km
DetailsTimeNotes
arrived at Vienna Airport8:00 AM
got all luggage8:40 AM
left big suitcases at baggage service9:00 AM€4 per bag per day
waited for OBB Train RJ6409:30 AM
boarded Flughafen Wien Bahnhof → Salzburg HBF10:25 AM
arrived at Salzburg HBF1:48 PM
lunch at OBB Lounge at Salzburg HBF1:55 PM1st class perk
Taxi to Hotel Goldener Hirsch, Salzburg2:20 PM€10,80 fare + €1,20 tip
check in at Hotel Goldener Hirsch, Salzburg2:40 PM
walked to Tourist Info at Mozartplatz Sq. from hotel3:00 PMbought Salzburg Card
Salzburg Cathedral & surroundings4:00 PM
funicular up to Salzburg Fortress5:10 PMFortress tour
VIP dinner at Panorama Restaurant6:30 PM
VIP concert at Golden Hall8:30 PMwalked 137 steps up
funicular down from Salzburg Fortress10:30 PM
walked from Old Town to Mullner Steg for night shots10:35 PM
back to hotel12:20 AM

Arrived in Vienna at 8:10 am, got my luggage at 8:40 am, then went up to the departure level in Terminal 3 to leave our big suitcases at luggage storage. Only €4 per suitcase per day. We only took our carry-on’s to go to Salzburg.

Went down to Level -1 where the Vienna Airport (Flughafen Wien) Train Station is located. Our 10:33 am direct train from Vienna Airport to Salzburg Hbf left from Platform 2. Though I already bought the ticket online, I still checked the ticket price on the machine and to my BIG surprise, a 1st class ticket like what I got cost €104 – instead of €29 that I paid online 3 months ago.

I also prepaid €3 per ticket to get a seat selection on the OBB train site. The compartment that I chose was in the last car (Coach 27) where half the car is 1st class and half the class is business class. We ended up having the whole compartment to ourselves for the whole 3-hour journey. In that compartment, only seats 61 & 62 and 63-66 have fixed tables, others are fold-up ones like those on the planes.  The picture below shows the seats that I reserved for DH & myself, with seat 61 facing the direction of the journey. Being a morning train, seats 61 & 62 did not get the sun. Party of 4’s can book Seats 63-66, as they also have a fixed table (odd number seats facing the front of the train).

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Upon arrival at Salzburg Hbf, we went to the OBB Lounge to get some free drinks and snacks (a 1st class passenger’s perk).

Then we took a taxi and paid €10 + €2 tip to get to the hotel in the Old Town, Hotel Goldener Hirsch, a 5-star Luxury Collection Hotel. I totally love this old hotel originally built in 1407. As an SPG Gold member, I got a free upgrade to a Festival room of over 40 sq. metre, overlooking the famous pedestrian street, Getreidegasse, but without any street noise from Room 44.

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The furniture is all wood which I like a lot to preserve the authentic look, but the mini-bar, the safe, etc. are all quite new inside those wooden cupboards.  The best part is the bathroom which is spacious and loaded with good bath products. There are the double sinks, a bath tub with a hand-held shower, a separate shower stall, a toilet and a bidet.

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After check in, we walked to the Tourist Info Office on Mozartplatz Square located 7 minutes away from the hotel at the end of Getreidegasse. There we bought our 48-hour Salzburg cards (€37 each) and used them for Salzburg Cathedral & to go up the funicular to the Salzburg Fortress. I attended the VIP dinner and Mozart Concert there.

Being an SPG gold member, I got the original Mozart chocolates (recipe created by Furst in 1884) as a gift from the hotel. We were told that these hand-made “originals” are wrapped in blue-silver tin foil. All the others, usually wrapped in red-gold tin foil, were just cheap imitations.

mozart chocolate

It’s getting really late now, so I’ll continue the blog tomorrow.

Day 1 (con’t) – July 8, 2018 (Sun) – Salzburg Cathedral, Fortress VIP Dinner & Concert, Night views of Salzburg

After we got our Salzburg Cards, we went inside the Salzburg Cathedral for a quick walk-around. Then we went to use the Fortress funicular to go up the hill. The whole journey was only 40 seconds long. The view of Salzburg from the fortress was just gorgeous!

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We joined a free 30-minute tour of the fortress where we got an audio guide, plus visiting the regency rooms, torture chamber and the watchtower at an altitude of 506 m (1,660 ft). Apart from the spiral staircases and numerous steps, the 360° views from the watchtower were most rewarding.

The dinner before the concert was at Panorama Restaurant. The food was quite good and I loved the delicious and “musical” dessert.

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After the meal, it’s time to get ready for a work-out. We had to climb 137 steps to get to the Golden Hall for the Mozart concert. The music was very good, but since there’s NO air-conditioning, it was quite hot and I was all sweaty. Luckily I had a foldable fan with me so I was using it occasionally and gently.  Didn’t want to be too distracting to the performers being seated in the first row in the middle. We paid extras to be VIP’s for sitting in the front row, got a program and a glass of champagne during intermission. To go to the ladies’ room, walk down 2 levels, then up to go back to the concert hall.  There was only ONE toilet there, or you have to walk down even more to use the courtyard washrooms. While I was in the washroom, my husband took a beautiful sunset picture from the concert hall.  Remember? No air-con so windows were wide open.

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When the concert was over, my husband got a pretty night view of the cathedral from the fortress.

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Then we walked for 20 minutes to the Mullnersteg Bridge to take a night shot of the spectacular fortress.

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Using our Salzburg Cards, we took a bus back to Franz Josef Kai, walked 3 minutes to the hotel. What a long day! See how much I walked today!!!

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Day 2 – July 9, 2018 (Mon) – sightseeing in Salzburg

Salzburg – July 9
Steps walked: 14,276         Floors climbed: 22Distance walked: 10.1 km
DetailsTimeNotes
breakfast at Café Getreidegasse10:00 AM
got ticket for Salzach River Cruise10:30 AM€3 extra for back seats
Salzach River Cruise11:00 AM
walked to Mirabell Palace & Gardens12:00 PM
relived the scenes of Sound of Music
walked to lunch at Café Bazar1:00 PM
walked to Mozart’s Residence2:30 PM
walked to Old Town3:40 PM
Visited DomQuartier4:00 PMso many steps!!
afternoon drinks at Stieglkeller5:10 PM
Walked to Mozart’s Birthplace5:40 PMno air-con, very hot
Back to hotel to take a rest & shower6:15 PMwalked 137 steps up
Walked to Sternbrau for dinner7:40 PM
Sound of Salzburg Show at Sternbrau8:00 PM
Back to hotel10:00 PM

It’s a warm and sunny day (18-28° C). We started by having a delicious breakfast at a little cafe (Cafe Getreidegasse) next to the hotel.

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2 regular coffees and 2 apple strudels cost €13. The coffee was super good and the apple strudels were flaky and yummy.

Then we used our Salzburg Cards for a free Salzach River Cruise. We paid €3 each to sit at the back of the ship. It was a good choice. After the 1-hour cruise, we walked to the Mirabell Palace and Gardens.

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There we relived many scenes from the movie, “The Sound of Music”, including the Pegasus Fountain & the steps that Maria & the children sang “Do Re Mi” and the Dwarfs Garden.

Soon it’s lunch time so we walked 7 minutes to Cafe Bazar next to the Salzach River for lunch. Both the ham noodles and sandwich were great! The coffee was especially good.

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The above lunch plus 1 beer, 1 juice, 1 Coke Zero & 2 coffees cost €41,80. Afterwards, we walked 5 minutes to Mozart’s Residence. It was a beautiful place and I bought a lot of souvenirs there. That was a big pity that Mozart died so young at the age of 35 and his wife Constance was only 29 at that time, having just given birth to their youngest son 6 months ago. We walked back to the Old Town and went inside DomQuartier Salzburg. Again, so many steps!! It’s a hot day and only a small section of the museum has air-conditioning.

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We definitely needed a cold drink after the visit, so we used the DomQuartier’s ticket discount to have a “Buy one Get one free” beer at Stieglkeller next to the entrance of the Fortress funicular. The view from the terrace was amazing!

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Before we headed back to the hotel to take a rest, we visited Mozart’s Birthplace, just a 5 minutes walk away. The place was so hot and it was just totally like a sauna. Mozart’s family lived in a 3-room apartment on the 3rd floor (the one with all windows opened).

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Another highlight of Salzburg was the “Sound of Salzburg Show” held at Sternbrau opposite our hotel. It was very entertaining, with a lot of Austrian folk songs, Mozart and Strauss’ compositions, and best of all, many songs from “The Sound of Music” with a little bit of sing-along fun! The schnitzel there was quite good but the pork roast was just average.

We had so much fun in Salzburg that we’ll definitely go back.

Day 3 – July 10, 2018 (Tues) – embarkation in Vienna

Vienna – July 10
Steps walked: 9,971         Floors climbed: 3Distance walked: 6.7 km
DetailsTimeNotes
hotel check out7:15 AM
took a taxi to Salzburg HBF7:20 AM€10,80 fare + €1,20 tip
breakfast at OBB Lounge at Salzburg HBF7:40 AM1st class perk
boarded OBB Train RJ763 at platform 4F8:00 AM
Salzburg HBF → Flughafen Wien Bahnhof8:08 AM
arrived at Flughafen Wien Bahnhof (airport)10:58 AM
met Crystal reps at train platform11:00 PM
got suitcases from Luggage Storage11:10 PM€4 x 2 x 3 days = €24
walked to Crystal coach at parking lot11:20 PM
left airport to ship12:05 PM
arrived at Handelskai pier#5 where Mozart docked12:30 PM
Lunch at Waterside1:10 PM
Ship Tour: Austria in a Nutshell (VIE-02)2:00 PMLight rain
washroom/coffee break near City Park2:40 PMGuide: Gabriela (great)
walking tour via city park to imperial palace3:00 PM
free time starting at St. Stephen’s Cathedral4:05 PM
pick up Vienna Card at Tourist Info4:25 PM
afternoon snacks at Rosenberger4:35 PM€10,70
Walked from Stephansplatz to Schwedenplatz5:10 PMboarded coach there
Back to Ship to continue unpacking5:35 PM
Dinner at Waterside7:00 PM
Social time at Cove Bar9:00 PM

Checked out from the Salzburg hotel at 7:15 am. Front desk called a taxi cab that arrived in 2 minutes and we got to Salzburg Main Station at 7:40 am. Fare was €10,20 + €1,80 tip. The traffic was a tiny bit slower than Sunday. After checking that the train left from Platform 4F (only half the train continued on to Vienna Airport and half stopped at Vienna Main Station), we had free breakfast at the OBB 1st Class Lounge and boarded the train on time. This time we saved €70 per ticket than buying it right at the station.

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The Crystal reps waited for us at the train platform at Vienna Airport and we were escorted to the Crystal Coach that was waiting for us at Terminal 3 parking lot. We had to wait for over half an hour for ten more guests to arrive before pulling off to the pier. 

Crystal Mozart docked at pier #5 on Handelskai, which was directly opposite the St. Francis of Assisi Church, also known as the Emperor’s Jubilee Church.

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I read many reviews before picking my suite with a French balcony, making sure that when docking at the piers the room/view would be blocked to the minimal.  So far it proved to be an excellent choice. I’ll do a summary of Mozart’s docking positions at the end of the cruise. My suite is #203 on the port side.

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Check-in was a breeze, it took no more than 5 minutes, including taking pictures for our cruise cards. We did it with a rep right at the stateroom, which is on Deck 2, that means we did not have to take the stairs from the entrance of the ship. Since our luggage was already brought to the room, we started unpacking before having lunch at Waterside Restaurant on Deck 3. Our first buffet lunch on board was not good at all. Both the chicken scallopini and veal were not even warm and they were quite hard. Coffee was not good either. However, the food got much better after the first meal.

Our S1 Deluxe suite with French balcony is only 219 sq. ft. in size, we found it very small, though it’s already bigger than other cruise lines’ balcony rooms. We packed very light, knowing that only smart casual clothes were needed. Each person only brought 15 shirts/T-shirts, 7 pair of pants/shorts, 2 pieces of swim wear, 3 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of slippers, 1 jacket (my husband has 1 sport jacket too), 10 underwear, plus our toiletries and electronic gadgets like phones, tablets, cameras, chargers, etc. I also have 3 dresses. We had no problems putting everything in the 2 closets with 3 huge drawers. An iPad is on one night table, and a phone is on the other.

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The TV is quite big for the room but it’s not movable, so we can’t even use our HDMI cable to see our photos and videos on the TV.

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I love the sitting area. It’s facing the front of the ship so it’s great to sit on the couch to enjoy the river scenery along the way. I’ll show the balcony windows later. The mini-bar (actually a pull-out drawer) is beside the desk under the coffee machine and the cups and glasses.

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The bathroom with the adorable Toto heated toilet is lovely and well-designed. Upscale Etro bath products are provided. The shower’s water pressure has been great. The middle knob is for the temperature, the left is for the overhead shower. With both the left and the right turned on, it’s the hand-held shower. There is a drawer under the sink, a shelf above the toilet, so there is enough space to leave my toiletries.

Day 4 – July 11, 2018 (Wed) – more sightseeing in Vienna

Vienna – July 11
Steps walked: 11,139          Floors climbed: 13Distance walked: 7.6 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Breakfast at Waterside8:00 AM
Ship Tour: Exclusive Museum of Fine Arts9:00 AM
                   & Art Chamber (VIE-05)
arrived at Kunsthistorisches Museum9:40 AMearly opening for
2-hour guided tour with Gabriela, saw Klimt’s artworkCrystal guests
walked to Imperial Treasury to see crowns11:40 AM
walked to coach12:20 PM
boarded coach at Albertina12:30 PM
Lunch at Waterside1:00 PM
Ship Tour: Imperial Schonbrunn Palace &2:00 PMguide: Irene
                   Royal Carriage Museum (VIE-04)
self tour of palace grounds (no tour inside)2:50 PM
Guided tour to Royal Carriage Museum3:30 PMinteresting history
Boarded coach for more city sightseeing4:30 PM
Back to ship6:00 PM
Signature Event: Michelin-Star Dining at7:00 PMupscale and delicious
                Le Ciel by Toni Morwald (VIE-16)excellent service
arrived at Grand Hotel7:20 PM
finished dinner9:30 PM
back to ship9:50 PM

After a restful sleep, we woke up ready to have a full day of sightseeing in Vienna. This was our itinerary for the day:

  1. 9 am – 1 pm     Exclusive Museum of Fine Arts & Art Chamber
  2. 2 – 6:30 pm       Imperial Schonbrunn Palace & Royal Carriage Museum
  3. 7 – 10 pm          Michelin-Star Dining at Le Ciel by Toni Morwald

First we went to breakfast and it was amazingly good. I’ll post some pictures later.

Our 1st stop was the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts). The museum was supposed to open at 10 am but Crystal got priority entry at 9:40 so we could follow the guide and saw many areas before the public. We had to leave our bags in the locker. Photography without flash was permitted. Our tour guide Gabriela (same as yesterday’s tour) was very very good.

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One of the most important works was the Saliera or Salt Cellar by Benvenuto Cellini.

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Another special event at the Kunsthistorisches Museum was the Stairway to Klimt. To remember the artist’s death 100 years ago, there was a temporary elevated platform that brought visitors close to 13 paintings on walls above the museum’s grand staircase.

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Then we moved on to the Imperial Treasury to view 2 very famous imperial crowns. The first one was the Austrian Imperial Crown (the Imperial Orb, Crown, and Sceptre of Austria).

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The second one was the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

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After we went back to the ship for lunch, we started our afternoon excursion to Schönbrunn Palace and the Royal Carriage Museum at 2 pm. The drive took 20 minutes.

We only visited the outside of the Schönbrunn Palace but the ground was absolutely stunning.

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The Carriage Museum was right next to it.

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We left the palace at 4:30 pm and the driver drove through the city for more sight-seeing before getting back to the ship. I’m so glad that we got to stay for a couple more days after disembarkation so we could see more of Vienna. It’s a wonderful city!

When we booked this cruise, the Michelin-starred restaurant experience was one of the highlights that attracted us. Now Crystal only offered that to guests who are in Penthouse & above free of charge, all others would be charged €249 per person. Since we booked the cruise before Crystal announced the cut-off date of August 7, 2017, we were able to enjoy this culinary experience free of charge. Out of Edvard, Konstantin Filippou & Le Ciel, we chose the last one.  There were 16 of us going there and 20 that went to Edvard. Not sure how many went to Konstantin Filippou.

The food at Le Ciel was definitely above average and the service was great too, but I don’t think it’s worth €249. Crystal used 3 different coaches to take us to the restaurants. Le Ciel is on the 7th floor of the Grand Hotel, quite close to the Vienna State Opera.

The menu

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The veal (main course)

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The dessert

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2 types of chocolate after the dessert (yes, the green ones are yummy chocolates)

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What a great day in Vienna! There was so much that we didn’t get to see so I was very glad that we got to stay in Vienna for a couple more days after the cruise.

Day 5 – July 12, 2018 (Thurs) – Durnstein

Durnstein & Melk – July 12
Steps walked: 10,332         Floors climbed: 11Distance walked: 7.4 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Breakfast at Waterside8:30 AM
Ship Tour: Durnstein Walking Tour &9:30 AMquaint little village
                   Monastery (DUE-03)
1-hour guided tour with Lisa Marie
free time to explore the town10:30 AM
back to ship11:45 AM
Scenic Sailing along Wachau Valley12:00 PM
Lunch at Blue12:20 PM
Arrived at Melk4:00 PM
Ship Tour: Melk Abbey: a Baroque4:30 PMlots of walking!!!
                   Masterpiece (MLK-02) 2-hr guidedGuide: Iduna (Excellent)
Left Melk Abbey6:30 PM
back to ship6:45 PM
Dinner at Waterside7:00 PM
Social time at Cove Bar9:00 PM

Crystal Mozart left Vienna just before midnight of July 11. When we woke up on July 12, we found that we were already at Durnstein, with Amadeus Symphony parked right beside us on the Starboard side. Again, it proved that our suite location was great as there was still a little bit of gap between our windows and the front part of Amadeus Symphony.

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We started the walking tour by going to Dürnstein Abbey. Established in 1410 and rebuilt in 1710 in the elaborate Baroque style, the abbey is definitely very well-kept. Here is the famous spire of the blue church:

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The interior was surprisingly stunning for a quaint little village of only 900 inhabitants.

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We had an easy stroll through this beautiful village, heard legends about the town, its ruined castle and King Richard I of England, also known as Richard the Lionheart. Walking back to the ship on our own was super easy.

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On a river cruise, the worst stateroom locations were the midship rooms, and many of them were the penthouse suites. They ALWAYS got blocked, at least partially if not completely. All you faced was just the concrete. Those on Deck 1 midship were in complete darkness, like you’re trapped in a lock.

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Day 5 (con’t) – July 12, 2018 (Thurs) – Melk

We left Durnstein at 12 noon, sailing the beautiful Wachau valley.

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Crystal Mozart docked at Melk.

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The spectacular Melk Abbey.

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The walking tour

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It was quite tiring to walk so much, and we had even more walking the following day to go to Cesky Krumlov. Getting really excited to see Linz and Cesky after 17 years!!

Day 6 – July 13, 2018 (Fri) – Linz & Cesky Krumlov

Linz & Cesky Krumlov – July 13
Steps walked: 11,800         Floors climbed: 4Distance walked: 8.4 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Breakfast at Waterside8:00 AM
Ship Tour: Czesky Full-day Adventure9:00 AM
                   to Cesky Krumlov (LNZ-03)
arrived at Cesky Krumlov Castle11:00 AMstart tour from uphill
complimentary coffee break at Cesky Pernik11:50 AM
Guided tour part 212:00 PM
Free time & Lunch12:20 PM
Lunch at Hotrel Dvorak terrace by the river12:30 PM1050 Czech Koruna
Coffee at Egon Café2:00 PM138 Czech Koruna
Meet at Old Town Square2:30 PM
arrived back to Linz for city sightseeing4:00 PM
Back to ship, booked Bistro dinner4:20 PM
Afternoon snacks at Bistro4:30 PM
Walked to Linz Old Town5:15 PM
Boarded trolley for a 30-min Old Town Tour6:00 PM€9 per person
Took a bus back to ship6:50 PM€1,20 per person
Back to ship7:05 PM
Dinner at Bistro Mozart8:00 PM
Ship to Passau9:00 PM
Went to “Ther Liar’s Club” at Palm Court9:30 PMtoo long & repetitive!

While we were at Linz, the ship docked with the Port side facing the pier. Luckily, our suite didn’t get blocked by the pier at all. But you could see from the picture that a whole chunk of rooms on Deck 1 from mid-ship to the front of the ship were completely blocked.

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We docked really close to town. Strolling to Hauptplatz, the Old Town Main Square, was just an easy 5-minute walk.

After breakfast, we boarded the bus to go to Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Most people from the ship chose to go to Salzburg as it was a more popular spot for tourists. So there were only about 20 of us on the coach. After a 2-hour journey on the coach, we arrived at the top of Český Krumlov Castle, dated back to 1240 when the first castle was built. We felt much better walking downhill, accompanied by the gorgeous views:

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After a 45-minute walk, we were taken to a cute little shop opposite the castle exit to taste their famous Old Bohemian ginger bread. We were also offered free trials of their wine & liqueur. The ginger bread had lovely designs and was really soft and delicious.

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We continued our walk to cross the Vltava (Moldau) River to the Old Town Square. We had a great lunch on the terrace of Hotel Dvorak by the river.

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Both the fish and the duck were delicious.

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After lunch, we walked to a little cafe for coffee before joining the group at the Old Town Square to walk to the coach for our return trip.

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Day 6 (con’t) – July 13, 2018 (Fri) – Linz

When we got back to Linz, we drove past Hauptplatz the main city square. It was so beautiful that we decided to have a little exploration on our own. After changing our Bistro reservation to 8 pm, we started to walk to the Main Square from the ship. Then we saw the cute yellow trolley so we decided to take a little tour of the town. It was only €9 per person for a 30-minute tour. We were the red tour so we could see our ship from the bridge.

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After the trolley trip, we walked around and then paid €1, 20 to take a 3-stop bus ride back to the Main Square before walking back to the ship. We just paid for the bus tickets from the machine at the bus stop, very easy with clear English instructions.

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Day 6 (con’t) – July 13, 2018 (Fri) – Bistro Mozart

Having heard so many great things about the tapas-style Bistro Mozart, we decided to give it a try. We liked it so much that we had to book it for a second time before we disembarked.

First of all, it was very pleasant to eat with floor to ceiling windows right beside you. Incredible Danube river views accompanied us for the whole meal, from day to night.

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There being no menu, it was up to the chef to share with us his “creation”, based on our liking of seafood and meat. These were the appetizers: salmon with caviar, air-dried pork, caesar salad…soooo yummy!

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Main course were shrimps and filet mignon with yams and garlic bread. Everything was super tasty. Our dessert was of course their famous mango sorbet with chunks of mangoes.

Day 7 – July 14, 2018 (Sat) – Passau/Munich

Passau & Munich – July 14
Steps walked: 11,800         Floors climbed: 4Distance walked: 8.4 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Breakfast at Waterside7:30 AM
Ship Tour: A Day of Art & Culture in8:30 AMGuide: Jardo
                    Munich (PSU-05)
washroom break9:45 AM
arrived at Munich11:30 AM
Guided tour at Museum of Modern Art11:45 AMGuide: Ricki
Complimentary lunch at Ratskeller1:15 PM
Guided walking tour2:30 PM
Free time3:25 PM
Visited Munich City Museum3:45 PM
Met at Max-Joseph-Platz5:00 PM
Back to ship7:40 PM
Dinner at Waterside8:00 PM
Spotlight Showtime: Tenor (Stefan Mullan)9:30 PMExcellent
                                      Pianist (Elda Laro)
Social time at Cove Bar10:30 PM

What a day! After a 2.5 hour’s journey, we finally arrived at Munich. With the Christopher Street Day Gay/Lesbian Parade taking place in Munich, Crystal should have cancelled this trip to Munich, rather than having us amidst the crazy crowd on all major routes. It’s amazing that none of us got lost while walking to lunch!! UGH! THE CROWD!

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As soon as we arrived, we went to the Museum of Modern Art. The guide Ricki’s English was not very good, with a heavy accent. Besides, she treated us like College Art students and went into so much details that we got very bored. We stood in front of a few not-so-famous paintings and listened to her for over 5 minutes, so we could only see a few sections of the museum. I peeked into other sections that we didn’t have time to see and found that I actually had more interest to see those. That 1-hour was really boring!! When I signed up for this excursion, I thought I was going to see artwork reflecting the history of Germany in the eyes of modern people. What a disappointment! We spent over 5 minutes to talk about these rocks:

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The second disappointment was the complimentary lunch at Ratskeller.

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There was not a choice for us so everyone was given the beef stew. It tasted okay but I’d rather pay to get German specialties like pork knuckle or the different types of sausages. The beer was just average. When we walked past the Biergarten during our walking tour after lunch, how I wished we were eating & drinking there!

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I didn’t enjoy the walking tour as the streets were all crowded with people because of the parade. So when we had free time, we just wanted to get inside a museum to avoid the people. We paid 7 euros each to get to the Munich City Museum. Surprsingly, there was one floor that had a huge display of authentic musical instruments…very interesting! I even got to play a steel drum.

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After a brief visit to St. Peter’s Church, we went to our meeting place, Max-Joseph-Platz. It was so cute that they put cushions on the steps for people to sit and have a drink outside the Residenzmuseum.

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When we got back, there was a ship parked beside us. See how close it was at midship:

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A much bigger gap was outside our window, hence our room location was more desirable than other balcony rooms:

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After a quick dinner at the Waterside, we attended a superb concert by a tenor, Stefan Mullan and his incredible piano accompanist, Elda Laro.

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What a coincidence that both Stefan and myself graduated from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, England! We had a brief chat after the concert.

Day 8 – July 15, 2018 (Sun) – Passau

Passau – July 15
Steps walked: 4,911         Floors climbed: 8Distance walked: 3.5 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Breakfast at Waterside8:30 AM
Ship Tour: Roman Times and Roman10:15 AMGuide: Roman
                   Dishes (PSU-01)excellent English
Back to ship12:45 PM
Lunch at Blue1:00 PM
watched the locks at the spa relaxation area2:30 PM
watched world cup final at Palm Court5:00 PM
Dinner at Waterside7:30 AM
Social time at Cove Bar10:00 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.

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

Bratislava – July 16
Steps walked: 6,571         Floors climbed: 4Distance walked: 4.7 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Scenic cruising including Hainburg & Devin Castleam
Brunch at Blue12:00 PM
Ship Tour: Bratislava’s Ultimate Survivor:3:30 PM
              Chatam Sofer Memorial (BTS-04)
Bratislava on our own5:20 PM
Boarded trolley for a 30-min Old Town Tour5:25 PM
Walked around in town6:00 PM
“Pressburger Duo” show in Palm Court6:15 PMWE MISSED IT!!!
Back to ship, booked Bistro dinner7:05 PM
Dinner at Bistro Mozart7:30 PM
Social time at Cove Bar9:30 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 10 – July 17, 2018 (Tue) – Budapest

Budapest – July 17
Steps walked: 8,784         Floors climbed: 14Distance walked: 6.3 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Breakfast at Waterside8:00 AM
Ship delayed entering Budapest9:00 AM
Ship Tour: Beautiful Budapest (BUD-01)9:45 AMGuide: Eva
drove around the city for major sightsvery funny
Visited Castle Hill10:50 AM
boarded coach to go back to ship12:30 PM
Buffet lunch at Waterside12:50 PM
Took a taxi to Szechenyi Spa2:00 PMtaxi fare: 3000 forints
Private Tour: Budapest Szechenyi Spa2:30 PM
     with VIP Massage (5808P30)
taxi back to ship5:30 PMtaxi fare: 6000 forints
Buffet dinner at Waterside6:15 PM
Signature Event: Princesses of Violin at7:20 PMvery commercialized
       Budapest History Museum (BUD-08)with loud background
      “3 Princesses of Violin”music, great techniques
boarded coach to go back to ship9:10 PM
Budapest by Night Cruising9:30 PMbeautiful 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 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 (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:

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

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

Budapest – July 18
Steps walked: 5,799         Floors climbed: 7Distance walked: 4.1 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Breakfast at Waterside8:00 AM
Ship Tour: Feast for the Senses:9:00 AMGuide: Brigitta
                   Parliament Building & theexcellent
                   Great Market Hall (BUD-03)
walked back to ship from Market Hall11:30 AM
lunch at Blue12:00 PM
sail to Vienna12:00 PM
Trivia with Derek1:15 PMdid not attend
scenic cruising along the Danubepm
Life & works of Mozart at Palm Court with Sonja2:15 PMdid not attend
Apple Strudel Demonstration with Sebastian3:15 PMdid not attend
Dinner at Waterside with Gerry & Marianne7:30 PM
Social time at Cove Bar9:30 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 12 – July 19, 2018 (Thur) – Budapest to Vienna

Budapest to Vienna – July 19
Steps walked: 7,558         Floors climbed: 7Distance walked: 5.5 km
DetailsTimeNotes
Scenic cruising including Hainburg & Devin Castleam
Brunch at Blue12:00 PM
hair appointment2:00 PM
Galley Tour (signed up at front desk)3:00 PMinformative!
packing4:00 PM
Early dinner at Bistro Mozart5:30 PM
Mozart arrived at Vienna6:10 PM
Walked to Vorgartenstrasse (Subway U1)6:20 PM
Took the subway to HOHO Night Bus Tour7:30 PM
Subway from Karlsplatz to Prater8:30 PM
Arrived at Giant Ferris Wheel8:50 PM
Took the subway back to Vorgartenstrasse9:50 PM
Took the eBike to ride along the pier10:30 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!

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