Danube Odyssey, Part 12

                        Flights from Nuremberg to Memphis

 

1.  Flights from Memphis to Budapest

7.  Vienna's Jewish Museums

2.  Budapest Hilton

8.  Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace

3.  Visit to Holloko Farming Village

9.  Mozart and Trapp family home of Salzburg

4.  Budapest attraction of Szentendre

10. Weltenburg Monastery near Kelheim

5.  Visit to 13th Century Cathedral

11. Nuremberg and Nazi monuments

6.  Dreary Bratislava

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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Nov. 25, 2007, Tuesday – From Nuremberg to Memphis

 

We were up before 5 a.m. so we could finish packing for the trip home and

getting our three pieces of luggage out the stateroom door and

Nazi glee depicted in poster at Nuremberg museum

Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo

into the corridor of the boat so the crew could take it from our cabin and load it onto the tour bus.

 

Before we boarded the bus for the 1 ½-hour drive to the Munich airport (locals

call it Munchen), we had the only disappointing meal of the cruise. Put out for

us in the ship’s bar were trays of leftover pastries and cheese, along with a

few slices of bread. Nobody was on duty behind the bar so this non-coffee

drinker had a glass of water, a significant step down from the wonderful

breakfasts I’d been enjoying for nearly two weeks.

 

About 10 of our fellow passengers with morning flights home were on the bus with

us. Others had left at 6 a.m. for earlier flights and still others were either

heading to the airport a little later or were staying over for a trip extension

to Prague, Czech Republic. I think we’ve had enough of the former Soviet Union

and that post-trip excursion had zero appeal for us.

 

I tried to nap during our bus ride on the Autobahn but rustled into wakefulness

once the sun peeped over the distant horizon. I was greeted with the rolling

beauty of snow-covered farmland in Bavaria, with furrows and borders of trees

lined up perfectly. The six-lane roadway was in excellent condition. With very

light traffic, there were no posted speed limits in sight and several Mercedes,

BMWs and other European cars zoomed by us as we cruised along at 100-120

kilometers per hour.

 

We were impressed by the size, complexity and modernity of the Munich airport, a

major crossroads for international travelers. It has an inviting, duty free shop

that offers a wealth of tobacco, liquor and souvenir products of every

description. Betty purchased several boxes of Belgian chocolates as gifts for

friends and family back home. I had a lousy ham sandwich on a hard roll along

with a Diet Coke that together cost $12.50.

 

The Lufthansa flight to Charlotte, N.C., was full and expertly crewed by several

young, good looking and blonde flight attendants. They served us complimentary

wine and tasty lunches (broiled fish for me and roast beef for Betty) with Diet

Cokes. We were fortunate to have - through the work of Vantage Travel - window

and aisle seats on this and other flights. The whole trip cost us nearly $5,000

for air and boat fare plus another $500 in boat charges for laundry, drinks and

excursion expenses. Given the variety and scope of sights seen and excellence of

the food served us, the total expense seemed to be reasonable.

 

Thankfully, our Lufthansa flight got into Charlotte on time after flying nearly

9 hours over the Atlantic Ocean from Munich. Sadly, we were then reintroduced

River boat's restaurant dessert bar

Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo

to the often crappy service of so many U.S. airlines by a crabby gate crew,

several domineering flight attendants and our United  plane being 1 ½ hours late

getting into Memphis. Overall, it was a long and tiring day and a shameful end

to two wonderful weeks on a beautiful and interesting river cruise. On the

positive side, at least I finished one of W.E.B. Griffin’s well-written books

about World War II, “Secret Honor” about the Nazi war effort in Argentina.

 

Ironically, our days in Central Europe were so filled with excursions and eating

well that I did not even open the German-English phrase book I had checked out

of the Memphis public library. Besides, nearly all the Germans I spoke with had

at least some English, several to the point where I mistakenly thought their

country of origin was the United Kingdom. This was a far cry from my brief

business trip to Essen, Germany in 1996, where I had a tough time communicating

and could find not a single person on the industrial town’s main drag that would

admit to knowing English.

 

When we at last arrived back in Memphis, I was hungry for some American food and

greatly enjoyed a burger and fries served at the airport by a locally based chain,

Backyard Burgers. We rode a taxi-van from the airport to our home in the middle

of town for $25, including tip, and fell exhausted into bed by 9:30 p.m.

 

As memorable as the sights were, I doubt we will repeat the Danube River cruise

anytime soon. We learned Vantage Travel offers the finest food and service I’ve

ever had on boats. Its nighttime turndown service included candy left on

pillows. The expert crew tried hard to please and always did. I feel sure we’ll

look at some of their other offerings for a vacation cruise in the future.

 

We are looking forward to picking up Fiona from the greyhound boarding kennel

after a long sleep and having her home until we all head for Gulf Shores, Ala.,

for Christmas. We’re also looking forward to having the prints from 10 rolls of

film Betty took plus a couple of hundred of digital photos made into prints and

sharing them plus these travelogues with family and friends and whatever

Internet sleuths happen to stumble across them.

 

Comments and questions are welcome and should be directed to Lewis Nolan at

lewis_nolan@yahoo.com. Cheers and Happy Trails!

 

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