The crewman proudly demonstrated the wall between the sleeping area and the bathroom. An electric switch changed it from transparent to translucent. The only possible reason for this was that when transparent, the room might appear larger. The disadvantage was that all bathroom activities would be visible. When translucent, the bathroom light streamed into the sleeping area. I've noticed this strange trend in hotels also. The sister ship to which we transferred later had a nice old-fashioned wall, much preferred.
The next day they took us on a bus tour of Nuremberg. The have a nice
collection of medieval buildings and churches but the most notable
structures were built by the Nazis for the aggrandisement of Hitler.
They guide made it sound like the Germans were somewhat apologetic for
what had transpired during the Third Reich.
At this point in our travels we were not yet on the Danube river but on
the canal that joins the Main River to the Danube. We had to gain
elevation and then go down a bit to meet the Danube. This involved a
series of large modern locks. We motored all night and in the morning
we were in Regensberg and on the Danube. Regensberg seemed a handsome city with old
nicely maintained buildings and bridges. Ray & I joined the
optional tour to the BMW factory.
BMW is a major employer in Germany and in Regensberg they have about
9000 employees. It was quite impressive. The steel comes in large rolls
and is sheared into flat blanks to be fed into the stamping mill.
This was all automated and after being stamped by four giant tools, the
finished body panels popped out formed and trimmed. They said the
stamping tools, giant blocks of steel, could be changed for different
body types in 20 minutes. The most amazing to me was how the body
panels were assembled into a finished shell. It's 98% robotized with giant
arms lifting, positioning, welding, and applying glue, etc. The
finished shell is then united with the drive train, brought in from
another factory. Most of the emplyees are used in final assembly with
only a few automated or robot assisted tasks. Different models march
along the same assembly line with the appropriate parts arriving. The
factory didn't allow photography so I lifted a couple of pics from the
Our next port was Passau, where two other rivers join the Danube. On
the organized tour we saw a beautiful baroque church, listened to its
organ, and had an included lunch in town. We had some time to ourselves
so we walked into town and wandered. I bought a hat. Before the boat
was scheduled to leave, the four of us crossed the bridge and hiked up
to where we got some idea of the other rivers, the Inn and the Ilz. One
was blackish and the other whiteish. The Danube was by comparison,
At this point in our travels we got the news that our boat could not
travel any further downriver because of low water levels. Plan B was to
swap boats with a sister boat coming upriver. We would tour Melk
Abbey, then the bus would take us South where we would board the other
boat. Presumably other folks were doing a similar dance heading North.
We packed up our luggage and headed out to Melk Abbey.
Melk Abbey was a large complex, nicely maintained, with a fancy museum
and some interesting stuff to see. We chuckled at the re-usable coffin,
where after the ceremony the lever is pulled, the body is dropped into
the grave, and the coffin is then ready for reuse. Melk Abbey is the
final resting place of the martyr and Irish prince St. Coloman
(variously spelled Koloman and Colomanni). This caught my attention and
I imagined that he was surely an ancestor of mine. The poster however
shows a less than handsome fellow.
On my list for Vienna was to ride in the classic Ferris Wheel, built in
1897. Each of the 15 cabins hold about 12 people. The wheel, called
the Riesenrad (giant wheel) is located in Vienna's amusement park, the
Prater. After our ride we headed back to the boat and ran into a
protest march. As far as I could tell, the Turkish immigrants were
demanding something. Our direct route to the boat was blocked by line
of police in riot gear so we went around the block.
Vienna was a big city. Most our time there was organized but we did have an afternoon to ourselves. Ray & Cindy went to see the Lipizzaner horses and Martha & I went wandering. It was a holiday in Vienna (Corpus Christi) so most shops were closed. But there was a procession in the middle of town which we enjoyed watching from a cafe. We then found the famous Demel bakery. We had an elegant lunch, saw the bakers in action, and bought some goodies.
We motored overnight and got to Budapest. The highlight of our Viking
visit to Budapest was a nightime cruise up and down the Danube looking
at the lit buildings.The Viking stay in Budapest was shorter than
planned in the published itinerary, but we were OK with that since we
had independent time later.
Our hotel was the Gellert, an art deco marvel from the early 1900s. Our
room had a view of the Danube and Green Bridge. Cindy & Ray noticed
that there was a classic car rally happening in front of the hotel so
we went down and saw the Hungarians and their cool vehicles. I saw an
Alfa Giulietta, the same as brother Richard's. The next day we took the
Metro out to the park and had great fun at the flea market.
Our hotel stay inculded a visit to the thermal baths. Budapest has many baths, some very large, but the Gellert Baths are classic. They are connected to the hotel and quite beautiful. We tried all the different temperatures ranging from swimming pool cool to hot tub hot, using the hotel supplied robes and spending several lazy hours there.
In the evening we walked across the Green Bridge to a street filled with cafes. Very lively place with street entertainers and musicians. We had dinner at a place near an amazing guitarist, Django Reinhardt style.
We had heard of the famous covered market so we spent much of our last
day in Budapest there browsing among the many stalls. Dinner was again
at the street across the bridge. Next morning we said goodbye to Cindy
& Ray, then caught our flight to Copenhagen.
We rented a car and used the included GPS to great advantage getting past the city and out to Lisa and Rune's house in the countryside. Most of the land near them belongs to "the castle", a property kept more or less intact from the days of royalty. They own their parcel but use the extensive castle grounds for walking and recreation. Looking out their window one sees ponies and black sheep grazing on the hill.
Their house is over 150 years old and they have been working hard
restoring it to prime condition. They've hired some specialists to help
with the thatched roof and house structure, but they've done much of
the work themselves. Rune showed me his restoration of the garage, now
workshop. Like the house, it's post & beam construction, the lumber
fitted together with tenons and dowels, no screws or nails. The beams
are dowsed with a tar mixture which lasts for many years and the brick
and plaster between the beams is coated with a white chalk wash. Very
traditional. The inside is decorated to Lisa's taste, very cozy and
Our first day with them they took us into Copenhagen. We drove to a
Metro station, parked for free in the street, and got into town easily.
We saw the Queen's palace and changing of the guard. We had a boat
tour of the canals. We had lunch at a very nice restaurant, sitting
outside in ideal weather. Rune took us to Christiania, an
unincorporated area on the edge of Copenhagen. The people there have
rebelled against civil authority and have declared Chrstiania as a
separate sovergn country. The Danish government tolerates this to some
and varying extent. Cannibis is popular there and is usually tolerated.
The next day we took a long walk in the castle grounds to see the
castle. It's not very "casteley", looking like a very large manor
house. It had large neatly groomed gardens and a children's play area.
Rune had parked his car strategically so we could ride back. We
arrived at the car just has the heavens opened and it hailed strongly
for the next 20 minutes or so. He started driving but at one point had
to stop beneath some trees until it let up.
In the afternoon we drove to nearby Roskilde where we had a Viking
cruise of another sort. This one required us to row and sail our own
traditional boat. It was great fun and we managed quite well. Shopping
had been promised, but most of the shops in Roskilde were closed by the
time we got there. A lot of fun activiy packed into one day though.
Thanks very much to Rune and Lisa for being such great hosts and tour