Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Monday - First Full Day on Board Ship

Yesterday was our first day with the WAI tour. We've gone from independence and self-reliance to being members of an organized tour. It has taken us a little while to make the adjustment. There are advantages and disadvantages of both ways of travelling.

We started our day by joining a small group for a mini-bus ride to the village of Morbisch to meet up with the main WAI group who had been on a pre-tour optional trip in Italy. It seemed odd to be walking around a small town in such a large group (about 40 people). Our walk was lead by some members of a local walking club. Morbisch is on the Hungarian border. We saw where the old border line once formed part of the iron curtain between the West and the Soviet block. There once was barbed wire and mines where families were picnicing. Many people risked their lives here trying to escape to freedom in the west. The local people still have vivid memories of the Soviet era.

After Morbisch, we boarded a tour bus for the drive back to Vienna and to our ship, Der Kleine Prinz. We had been thinking about river cruising in Europe for a couple of years and had attended a couple of presentations by some of the big river cruising companies, AMA and Viking. We knew that we would be on a smaller ship without the same level of luxury as we had seen on the presentations. However, despite that, we were still a little disappointed with our ship. It is fairly small and old. The cabins are a reasonable size and functional, but they are very basic. We were docked a long distance for the interesting sections of Vienna.

On Monday, we had a busy schedule. A bus tour of old Vienna and a guided walking tour of the old town. The tour guide was excellent. There are so many remarkable buildings in Vienna. The walking tour took us into the Hapsborg's winter palace

We were brought back to the ship for lunch, the off again for a tour of the Schonbrunn Palace for another tour lead by the same guide.

The palace was built as a summer residence for the Hapsborgs and has more that 1400 rooms including just one bathroom. Once again, our guide was excellent. No pictures were permitted of the interior.

Here is a picture of the back yard.

We had a late dinner on the ship and then watched the ship depart from our dock in Vienna and sail for Bratislava in Slovakia.

After a full day with the ship as our base, we are starting get into the swing of things. Monday was fun. Tuesday we tour Bratislava.

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