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
Nov. 25, 2007, Tuesday – From
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
Click Colored Type to
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
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
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
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
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
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
9 hours over the Atlantic Ocean from
Click Colored Type to
to the often crappy service of so many
several domineering flight attendants and our United plane being 1 ½ hours late
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
Ironically, our days in
well that I did not even open the German-English phrase book I had checked out
at least some English, several to the point where I mistakenly thought their
country of origin was the
business trip to
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
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
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
email@example.com. Cheers and Happy Trails!