Danube Odyssey, Part 1

Flights from Memphis to Budapest, Hungary

 

1.Flights from Memphis to Budapest, Hungary

7. Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace and museums

2. Budapest Hilton

8. Cruise on Danube River and Durnstein

3. Visit to Holloko Farming Village

9. Mozart and Trapp family home of Salzburg

4. Budapest area attraction of Szentendre

10. Weltenburg Monastery near Kelheim

5. Visit to 13th Century Cathedral, Synagogue

11. Nuremberg and Nazi monuments

6. Dreary Bratislava and visit to painters' home

12. Flights from Nuremberg to Memphis

 

Index to Photos / Page Updated Jan. 19, 2008 - (More than 200 additional photos taken on the Nolans' two-week cruise through parts of Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia are posted in several Lewis Nolan albums at www.ritzpix.com, a website that requires sign-in)

 

 

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

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Betty and I arose at our Memphis home at 6 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2007, to get ready for our United Airlines flight to Chicago, where we would connect with another United Airlines flight to Frankfort, Germany and

Hungarian folk dancers in Holloko

Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo

finally yet another flight, by Lufthansa, to Budapest, Hungary for our long-awaited vacation trip on the aptly named "Danube Odyssey."

 

We finished a tiny bit of packing (total of three bags plus a couple of carry-ons) and had a light breakfast. An old friend and my former secretary at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, Nancy Russell, kindly agreed yet again to drive us to the Memphis airport for the flight to Chicago. Forewarned by an Internet weather service of snow at our destination, we had packed carefully and included warm clothing that turned out to be essential and at least one set of dressy clothes (blue blazer for me plus jeans and Gore-tex slickers for everyday wear). We were headed to Central Europe for a 12-day cruise on the Danube River through parts of Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Germany.

 

The cruise was put together by Vantage Travel, a Boston-based tour company that caters to American adults. The president of the company is the brother of the president of another cruise ship line, Grand Circle Travel, that we traveled with on a week-long cruise in France in 2001 (a travelogue of that and other big trips we've taken is posted at /nolantravels). We found Vantage to be a well-run, trip planning company with excellent information and service that was even better than the admirable Grand Circle.

 

We arrived at the Memphis airport about 9 a.m. and got through check-in and search without any hassles. The plane was full and we didn't have much room for our carry-on bags. Betty is carrying two cameras (one with film and one a digital) and a dozen rolls of film. We also have the trip information Vantage supplied, tour and reading books. We are excited by the prospects of seeing parts of the old Holy Roman Empire and onetime satellites of the Soviet Union.

 

Our United Express flight to Chicago was detoured on a big loop to the west by a snow storm so it had to land at Moline, Ill., to refuel. We got into Chicago late but managed to board the big United jet (as

Lewis Nolan in Holloko farm village near Budapest

Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo

many as 9 seats abreast). At least we had window and aisle seats in the tightly

packed tourist section for the long flight to Germany. Flying time was a little less than 8 hours. Across the aisle from us was Angela, a young American woman who was on her way from Chicago to Florence, Italy, where she taught American Studies at a university. For dinner, I had a special meal consisting of boiled chicken and Betty had a dish of pasta. We passed on the offered beer, wine and liquor offered for $5 a pop (the price contrasted with the free booze we enjoyed on Aer Lingus in 2003). I passed on the offered breakfast of a bagel and fruit cup. Notwithstanding the cramped seats and pricey liquor, the flight was decent and we arrived on time in Frankfort.

 

Changing planes was a pain due to poor signage (who says the Germans are tops in organization skills?). We finally found the proper gate and boarded the Lufthansa plane for the 1 hour flight to Budapest. We were pleasantly surprised by the comparative roominess of the seats and complimentary service of small cans of Coca Lite (European version of Diet Coke), tasty sandwiches and chocolate bars, which made the U.S. airlines' moneysaving policies of no-food on all but the longest flights seem stingy.

 

Vantage Travel met us and a dozen other Danube cruise passengers at the Budapest airport and transported us in a small bus on a crowded road and through heavy traffic into the middle of Budapest to the Hilton West End hotel.

 


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