Today we had a nice leisurely morning as our ship sailed from Vienna to Bratislava. We actually slept in until 8AM this morning. We had a traditional Fruschopen brunch. It consisted of 3 types of sausage, sauerkraut, red cabbage and salads.
Upon docking in Bratislava we were met by a local guide who took us on a walking tour around old town. We did a little bit of shopping and walked around the square. In the square there were many cafes, restaurants and pubs.
Tonight is our Captains Farewell Dinner. Can’t believe we only have one day left. The week has flown by and we have met many new friends!!!!
Today we arrived into Vienna and did a city tour. It was an amazing tour with a visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we saw the Opera house and the Hofburg Palace.
In the afternoon we did an optional excursion to Schonbrunn Palace. It once served as the summer palace for the Habsburgs. This is the residence of the famous Maria Theresia.
After dinner we experienced a concert with Mozart and Strauss music. The lead violinist was 22 years old and amazing. Our bus ride home from the concert took us around Vienna’s famed Ringstrasse by night.
Our day started out with a tour of the marvolous Melk Abbey. This monastery is still active and is a private school for kids ages 10-18. It was built in the 18th century atop a hill overlooking the quaint town of Melk on the Danube River.
We then boarded the ship as we sailed down the Danube to the town of Krems, we saw castles, villages and vineyards in the Wachua Gorge.
We did a walking city tour of the town of the town of Durnstein/Krems.
After dinner we did a wine tasting tour at the WinzerKrems winery. Which we enjoyed highly.
It has been a long busy day and our feet our tired from walking so much so off to bed as we sail through the night to Vienna.
More from Vienna…..
This morning we docked in Linz the 3rd largest city in Austria. It was a 90 KM ride through the night. We departed Passau at midnight and did not arrive until 7am. We could feel the boat moving through the night when we woke up at 3am with the vibration and rattling noises.
Then this morning we did the included walking tour of Linz. On this tour we each get a headset so that we can hear what the local guide is saying. Then back to the ship for lunch and departure for the next included tour to the Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. It was an amazing tour of a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is small medieval town. We toured a large palace that overlooked this town and the Vltava River followed by shopping for the usual tourist items.
Shorty we are off to supper in the main dining room. We have noticed that river cruising is definatly more casual than ocean liners. We figure that the average age on this ship is about 60.
Time to get ready…till tomorrow…stay warm
We survived our long flight a little bit worse for wear. Connections were all good and the Air Canada agents were all really good. The food on the flight was something to be desired but thankfully we brought snacks.
A gentleman from AMA Waterways meet us as soon as we left baggage claim and took us to the meeting point for our 2 hour transfer to the ship. When we arrived at the ship our rooms were not quite ready but they had some soup, sandwiches, cookies, coffee and tea waiting for us. Then we were taken to our rooms where our luggage was waiting for us. The rooms are smaller than we expected but due to creative placement and completely unpacking we fit everything in.
Currently it is pouring rain here and cold however there is no snow.
Our day started with a walking tour in Vilshofen a small village in Germany where our ship departs from. It took us 15 minutes to walk around the town. We then boarded our ship as we set sail for Passau. We went through our first set of locks which was very interesting as we watched from the top deck where the captain is.
When we arrive in Passau Germany, a local guide took us on a 1.5 hour walking tour around the town. He was quite informative with all the local history.
The weather today was sunny, cloudy, windy and cool good thing we brought warm clothes and jackets.
What we have noticed so far between oceanliners and river cruising it is more relaxed and personal. The ships are only 3 stories tall, very long and there are only 146 guests on board. So far the food has been spectacular and plentiful like dining in a 5 star restaurant. With so few people there are no line ups.
Until tomorrow….stay warm
Koh Phi Phi
We reached the beautiful island of Phi Phi Don and I am in shock. This place is heavenly. The view from my room at the Phi Phi Island Cabana is unreal. The beach, the water, the cliffs and the rocks randomly jetting out of the water make this quite possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The island is so charming and pleasant. No cars here, just the sounds of bicycles passing by the narrow streets lined with vendors selling tours, food, clothes and lots more. There are tons of people spending time here whether for a few nights or just the day. Most noticeably, this is a backpackers dream. So many different hostiles to choose from and lots of young travelers to meet. I’m doing my best to pretend I’m one of them but I can’t help my love of 5* resorts, clean sheets and hot showers. My days have so far consisted of discovering this small island and visiting neighboring island areas. I chartered a private long tail boat to take us to Maya Beach, made famous from the movie “The Beach”. The “Leo DiCaprio” lover in me had to see it for myself. We left at 8 am hoping to beat the loads of tourists that also had a soft spot for Leo. Unfortunately, leaving early had no extra benefits. It was already very busy and our long tail captain advised it would be too difficult to leave with this many boats. Since we were visiting Monkey Island later that morning, we decided just to stay in the bay and snorkel. The snorkeling was actually really good and normally I’m not too keen on it. Maya Beach did look nice from what I could see but nothing different from the other beautiful beach areas around. There was an odd amount of luxury yachts and sailboats in the water. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Beyonce and Jay Z but no such luck. Lol! Monkey Island didn’t live up to its name as there were no monkeys to be terrified of. Thank goodness! The day before, some Canadians we met were nearly attacked by five hostile little chimps. Can’t we just all get along? Food on Phi Phi has been especially delectable. My favorite meal so far was at the Cosmic Restaurant where we had Tom Yum Soup, Chinese style noodles, a couple of bevys and a banana split for about $12 cad! I might come back with a few pounds just because I just find eating is such a bargain. We’ve met so many nice Thai people here and travelers from all over the world that work here and call this place home. There are so many terrible stories about how devastating the tsunami was for this tight knit community. They estimate about 3000 lives lost on that day. You can count on the Thai to continue on because they are such a resilient and wonderful people. Our journey will end in seedy Bangkok. Looking forward to that next…
Krabi – AoNang
Now I get it! Until now, Thailand was so similar to the Caribbean places I’ve visited in the past. Phuket was fun but so busy and commercialized. Krabi is the exact opposite. It was a three hour ride north of Phuket following the coast line. There are so many amazing rock formations jetting out of the water. It’s unbelievable how beautiful it is. We are staying at the Mercure Deevava which is definitely an upgrade from the Fun Dee in Phuket. The Mercure is only a year old and the rooms and grounds are lovely. It’s still about 20 minutes to Ao Nang beach but this resort has a small pool area to keep us cool. Unlike Phuket, it’s only 20 baht per person one way to get to the beach by tuk tuk. Phuket was about 100 baht per person. The resort itself is about $80USD per night but is a great family and couple resort. Ao Nang beach is a lot cleaner and less salespeople. They don’t have chair loungers to rent here but we don’t mind “roughing it”. Lol! Prices here are very similar to Phuket. What I find funny is that meals are often the same price as alcoholic cocktails. Beer seems to be cheap but if you are a piña colada gal like myself,this might run you close to $4 which is the same as a large plate of Pad Thai. Writing about food is making me hungry… again. One of the advantages about the Thai coast is the beautiful islands that are 15minutes away by long tail boats. Phra Nang Caves and Beach is where we choose to spend the day and it was worth the 200 baht per person return. The beach is immaculate and the water is crystal clear. You can use sandbars to walk over to a couple different islands each with its own cave. The trouble with this area is the jellyfish. People were dropping like flies around us and I’m a hypochondriac so you can imagine how quickly I got out of the water when I realized what was going on. Other than that, the day was great. Now I’m just jumping on the ferry to Koh Phi Phi!
Phuket – Patong Beach
We’ve made it to Thailand! We arranged for a private taxi to pick us up. Good thing we did because the scams here are painfully ridiculous. Scamming is a way of life here. I’m prepared to throw a hissy fit when that moment arrives. But it’s tough to stay vigilant in such a beautiful, relaxing place. We are spending lots of time soaking up the sun and enjoying $6 Thai massages. Phuket is overloaded with tourists but this seems to have been a better time to come here. December to February is high season for them. ”Street meat” seems to be the best value for meal choices at a whooping $3 per person. Delicious! The beach in Patong is beautiful but the water is murky and garbage is not uncommon to see float by. We’re staying at the Fun Dee Resort which is about a 20 minute walk to the beach. If you don’t like hagglers, Patong is not the place to be. They can be very loud, persistent and obnoxious. Seems you can buy anything here but we’re going to wait until Bangkok to hit the knock offs. Woot woot! Mike is getting some custom tailored suits while we are here because this will be the only stop where we have enough time for multiple fittings. There are over 80 tailors in Patong but we used Trip Advisor as our guide to the right choice. One thing that was a must was an Elephant ride! This has been on my bucket list since I was a kid. I did a lot of research into local guides that practised ethical treatment towards these animals. Once we reached the jungle, we were in for a real treat! Our elephant was a hungry 85 year old that liked to veer off the trails and do her own thing. We bought a bag of bananas which she quickly ate. The ride was bumpy but a lot of fun. We had a Thai man sitting in front of us to guide the elephant as best he could. Although she was definitely a free spirit. I’m ready to get out of Patong because I’d like to go somewhere quieter and see the clear blue water I pictured in my head. Off to Krabi!
After a long flight we have finally reached the gorgeous metropolitan city of Hong Kong. I can smell the Dim Sum calling my name wherever I go. Considering this is one of the most populated cities, it sure is easy to get around. We’ve stumbled across a few road blocks due to language but thank goodness for all the English signs. I can’t get over the beautiful skyline of the bay. We have started getting over the jet lag with some retail therapy followed by a short day tour with Big Bus Tour that covers the highlights. Hong Kong residence and visitors sure love their name brands. Gucci, Versace, Givenchy… it’s all here and more!
The one problem is everything is so crowded and if you aren’t aggressive enough you won’t get anywhere. Although we only have a couple days here, I’m going to make the most of it. Next stop: Phuket Thailand!
After having spent four days at Disney, I have come up with a bit of a ‘must do’ list plus some observations on staying onsite and using the Disney dining plan.
Cinderellas Royal Table. The bill would have been $153.00 for three of us, or you can use two dining credits per person, which we did. Well worth it. There were five princesses who came to each table and spoke to each child. They signed autographs and took pictures. They made each kid feel special and Sydney was squealing in delight the whole time.
A Pirate’s League – by Pirates of the Caribbean – for about $35.00, your child can dress up as a pirate or mermaid and take place in a pirate parade. The cast members were great and the kids loved it.
A Pirate Adventure – leaves from the Port Orleans Riverside dock Thursday mornings, kids only… Read between the lines; This means mommy time! . Cast members take your kids on a two hour riverboat ride looking for treasure and even feed them lunch. A great deal for $35.00.
For adults, the Hollywood studios tower of terror is still my favorite ride.
For families, the Animal Kingdom safari is a must and fun for everyone. We saw tons of animals up close.
Fastpass, this is new since I was last here. I’m showing my age, but I love it. It has saved us hours of standing in line!
Go early as soon as the parks open as it’s a lot quieter and wait times are next to nothing. By lunch it’s a zoo and a great time to start cashing in some fastpasses.
It’s quite expensive to eat out all the time at Disney. For the cost of a dining plan, you get great value. If you get the timing right, they often have free dining in the off season. We were lucky enough to have this and I bet it’s saved us $1000.00 easily this week on food.
If you have the deluxe dining plan, you should make reservations ahead of time if you want to get into the sit down restaurants.
Character dining experiences are great. Most only count as one dining credit and you don’t have to wait in line to meet the characters.
Stay for the fireworks shows. Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios are all different and all fantastic!
The wait times on rides during and just after the fireworks is next to nothing. A great time to go on rides if you have already seen the show.
If you plan on only doing Disney, stay onsite at a Disney hotel. The transportation system is awesome and it’s so easy to go back if you need something (including a nap!) The staff is awesome and everything is “Disney” and well done. No car rentals and parking fees etc.