December 1-9, 2012
With tour leaders Audrey Voth Petkau & Terry Petkau
Join Audrey Voth Petkau and Terry Petkau for this music-filled European Christmas cruise. Our ship will be decked for the holidays and will ring out with the sound of onboard Christmas caroling as we travel from city to city in grand style along the Danube River. Each stop will be a delight for music lovers, as we enjoy a wide variety of music – from a classical concert in Vienna to an exclusive organ recital at Göttweig Abbey. You will be able to start and finish your Christmas shopping among the unique gifts and collectables found in Christmas Markets we visit along the way.
Our tour group will fly from our departure cities and meet in Munich, Germany. From there, we will transfer to our ship, the River Beatrice, in Passau. Audrey and Terry will introduce you to the other tour members and you will have opportunity to settle into your comfortable cabin before we share a welcome dinner together.
We will spend today touring the Bavarian city of Passau. Together we will enjoy a guided walking tour, which will take us through the medieval section of the city, including the celebrated St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a baroque masterpiece which is home to the second largest pipe organ in the world. We will marvel at the gothic and baroque architecture of the city as we walk past the New Residence, and Town Hall, to the meeting of the three rivers that come together in Passau. At Passau’s Christmas Market, set against the glorious backdrop of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we will find unique crafts, including Bavarian-style houses and glass ornaments. As an added treat, we will attend a gingerbread-making and floral-decorating demonstration. When we are back aboard our ship, we will set sail for Linz (Salzburg).
We will wake up this morning in Linz. We will take a coach to Salzburg, where the hills are alive with the sounds of Christmas music. The alpine elegance of this culturally vibrant town (which is a UNESCO World Heritage site) is in perfect harmony with its lovely setting between two hills. We will become acquainted with magical Salzburg, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, on our walking tour of the Old Town. Its magnificent cathedral was inspired by St. Peter’s Cathedral at the Vatican. In the afternoon, we will visit Salzburg’s Christmas Market, located at the foot of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and around the venerable cathedral. This evening, we will depart for Krems.
This morning we find ourselves in the town of Krems. There we will visit the beautiful Benedictine Göttweig Abbey in its spectacular location on a prominent hill on the eastern edge of the world-famous Wachau Valley. We will be treated to a special organ recital at the abbey. After lunch, our ship will depart Krems and we will enjoy beautiful vistas as we take a scenic cruise through the heart of the UNESCO-designated Wachau Valley with its abruptly rising hills, nestling baroque villages, and ancient monuments.
Vienna has long played a leading role as a center of European music and culture. As we explore this treasure of a city today, we will see why. Our day will be filled with delights: from an enchanting festive classical concert in a famous Viennese concert hall to a city tour and visits to its Christmas Markets. We will travel the stately 19th century Ringstrasse with its grand buildings and parks and will see St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Mozart was married. We will also visit the Baroque State Hall of the Austrian National Library – said to be the most beautiful library in the world. Afterward, our guided tour will take us to visit two Christmas Markets. Austria’s most famous Christmas Market, with over 140 wooden huts, is set in front of City Hall. Macaroons with nutmeg and rum balls are two treats you won’t want to miss. We will also visit a charming, smaller Christmas Market at Freyung Square, which has taken place every winter since 1772. In the evening, we will celebrate the spirit of Mozart and Strauss as we listen to a concert in one of Vienna’s well-known concert halls.
Market treasures: handcrafted ornaments
Through the night, our ship will take us into the heart of Slovakia to the capital city of Bratislava. Today we will encounter medieval towers side by side with grandiose 20th century architecture. We will discover how Bratislava celebrates its past in its medieval Old Town and underground Jewish cemetery, but also embraces new traditions – such as the Christmas Market of their neighboring countries. Enjoy choosing among the folk handicrafts of the region at this enchanting market.
Our final port of call is Budapest, considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and called the “Queen of the Danube.” The Danube divides this city in half – between the Buda (the hills) and the Pest (the flat lands). We will see why Budapest has been considered an architectural dream as we tour the city, including the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Castle Hill district and the dramatic vistas from the 19th-century Fisherman’s Bastion. We will cross the famous Chain Bridge, an early 19th-century bridge that was the first to connect Buda with Pest. In the center of it all is the Christmas Market, where we will get to shop for traditional Hungarian wares and delightful holiday treats like cinnamon-spiced gingerbread. Back on board our ship, we will share in a final farewell dinner.
All too soon, it is time to bid farewell to our ship and our fellow tour members. We will disembark at Budapest and will transfer to Budapest’s Ferihegy International Airport for flights home. No doubt this tour will greatly enhance our Christmas season and will create enduring memories and friendships.
For further information regarding the complete tour fare, please
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