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Clockwise, from above:

Clockwise, from above: The sun casts an orange glow over the city of Vienna, as seen from the north tower of St. Stephen΄s Cathedral; Göttweig Abbey, near Krems; the Johann Strauss Monument, Vienna; the turrets and spires of Fishermen’s Bastion, Budapest; the ornately decorated dome of St. Stephen΄s Cathedral One day, I was being swept up in a Viennese whirl as I listened to the unmistakable sounds of the “Blue Danube” waltz; the next, I was listening to the resonant tone of a mighty church organ, followed by a colorful troupe singing folk songs and operatic arias on board. And that was in between visiting wonderful sites in Hungary, Austria and Germany, or simply relaxing and watching the world drift by as we cruised past picture-postcard villages, lush terraced vineyards and dramatic castles perched on high cliffs. Our Romantic Danube® voyage of discovery started in the delightful Hungarian capital, Budapest. One of the beauties of river cruising is that you moor right in the heart of towns and cities, so you can make the most of your time as you never have to travel far to see the sights. Viking owns the best docking locations right next to Budapest’s landmark Chain Bridge, which spans the Danube between Buda and Pest, the two halves of the city. Designed by British civil engineer William Tierney Clark, it opened in 1849 and was Budapest’s first permanent bridge across the river. We spent our first afternoon strolling along Budapest’s Andrássy Avenue, the main boulevard; the next day, we enjoyed a fascinating guided tour (one of the daily excursions included in the price of the cruise) which took in imposing Heroes’ Square and other highlights before crossing the river to the charming Buda side of the city. Our home for the week was one of the sleek new Viking Longships, decked out in stylish and contemporary Scandinavian style from top to toe—or should I say, bow to stern. With surprisingly roomy staterooms and plenty of cleverly designed storage to stow all our things, it was an elegant floating hotel. Our journey continued to Vienna with an excursion to see its I WAS SWEPT UP IN A VIENNESE WHIRL AS I LISTENED TO THE UNMISTAKABLE SOUNDS OF THE “BLUE DANUBE” WALTZ wonderful palaces and grand buildings including Hofburg Palace, home of the ruling Hapsburgs for more than 600 years. For an afternoon at leisure, we opted to sit in one of the city’s renowned coffeehouses and delight in a slice of indulgent chocolate Sachertorte before taking an easy metro ride back to the ship. In the elegant German town of Passau, situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz and Inn Rivers, one of Europe’s largest church organs can be found. A visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a highlight of the walking tour and includes tickets to the stirring lunchtime 64 VIKING.COM EXPLORE MORE 2020

TRAVEL EXPLORE MORE 2020 VIKING.COM 65