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The magic of the Christmas Markets sparkle both day and night on this lovely pre-Christmas Danube river cruise.

To give you more of a feeling about this experience, and the sights you'll see, here's a photo journal taken from my 2007 cruise.

 
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Danube River Christmas Markets Cruise

Part 4 :  Back on the Bus - Coach touring through Slovakia and around the Prague

A Photo Journal of the 2007 Travel Insider Cruise

Click the map to have a larger and more detailed version open in a new window

Our cruise arrived in Budapest in the morning, and we overnighted there.  The next morning our group was taken by motorcoach first to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, and then on to Prague in The Czech Republic, where we enjoyed three lovely nights in this gorgeous city, in a wonderful small boutique hotel right in the heart of the city center.

Part 4 of a four part Photo Journal of the 2007 Travel Insider Christmas Markets Tour.  Click the links for other pages in this series.

Part 1 :  Munich, Bavaria and the Amadagio
Part 2 :  Along the Danube in Germany
Part 3 :  Beautiful Austria
Part 4 :  Hungary, Slovakia and The Czech Republic

Partially for my own pleasure and memories, and of course, partially to help you understand what to expect on a Christmas Markets cruise, here's a 'photo journal' of memories from my 2007 cruise along the Danube from Nuremberg to Budapest, with pre-cruise touring in Bavaria and post-cruise touring in the Czech Republic.

I've tried to make this different to a typical travelogue by concentrating on sights and impressions that are either quirky or of particular interest to Christmas Market cruises.

Although the specifics change slightly from year to year, such changes are simultaneously minor (after all, the historic towns aren't likely to change appreciably!) and generally for the better (new ships continue to come out each year with more amenities, larger statements, and better shore touring).

If what you're reading appeals, chances are you'll love the modern-day reality even more.

Click here for details of this year's Christmas cruise.

Photojournal Part 4 - Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, and Cesky Krumlov

Note - the small images below can all be clicked on and this will open a larger image, sometimes showing more of the picture, too, in a new window.  Simply close the window after enjoying the image to return back to this page.

Budapest

Looking across the Danube to the huge royal castle on the Buda side of the river.
 

Our cruise director, John, is from England but is now making his home in Budapest, so he did some amateur guiding to tell us more about the city (we had a formal guided tour as well, of course - this was another 'bonus' from John).
 
Eating again!  This time, in a lovely covered market in the center of Budapest.
 
One of Budapest's Christmas markets.
 
One of the end of cruise rituals - the Captain's Farewell Dinner.  He's the guy third from the left; the gentleman with his back to the camera is Cruise Director John Riley.

Budapest straddles the Danube.  On one side is the former city of Buda, on the other, the former city of Pest; now joined together as Budapest.

It is another grand city, due to it being the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for 51 years from 1867 - 1918.  Its period of communist government is now a fading memory and the city is returning to its former glory.

It is a good value city to eat in, and the Hungarian cuisine is excellent and appealing.  Most restaurants supplement their food with gypsy music, making for memorable and enjoyable evenings.

 

Bratislava

Bratislava is a nice town, and somewhat more quiet than the other capitals we visited.
 
This is their opera house, close to the Danube, which forms the border between Hungary and Slovakia
If you're wondering why Christine from Amawaterways is in these pictures, it is because she kindly provided these and many of the other pictures to help fill the 'gaps' in my own pictures..

While much of the former terrible service that was the norm in communist times has disappeared, some traces linger, and we encountered that while traveling from Budapest to Prague.  I'd clearly arranged for the coach to stop in Bratislava for lunch and sightseeing, but when I confirmed that with the driver, he denied all knowledge of the arrangement and said he didn't know how to get to Bratislava or how to drive around the city.

However, I wasn't taking no for an answer.  I had a tourist map of the city and a GPS built in to my Blackberry, so I disdainfully told him that if he didn't know how to drive there, not to worry, I did!  It is relevant to note that the center of Bratislava is no more than a couple of miles off the freeway.

So we got our Bratislava stop!

 

Prague

Wenceslaus Square during the daytime, surrounded by beautiful old buildings.
 
Wenceslaus Square at night.  A sense of scale can be derived by looking at the size of the performers on stage in the foreground.  Everything is huge.
 
Another view of Wenceslaus Square.  Maybe you had to actually be there to fully appreciate this view, but to me it is a stunningly beautiful reminder of a magical time in a magical city.
 

Prague has many restaurants in cellars beneath buildings.  Unprepossessing doorways lead down a flight of stairs and you're never quite sure what you'll find at the bottom.  It is well worth exploring - here's a lovely restaurant with great musicians we found purely by chance.

Prague may well be my favorite European capital.  It has a gorgeous central downtown area, full of wonderful historic buildings, lovely narrow winding streets and alleyways, all promising new sights and surprises, and (yet again) offers wonderful food at great prices.

It also has a great Christmas market in Wenceslaus Square, no more than three minutes walk from our hotel.

Making Prague all the much nicer is the little boutique hotel we use.  It is a small hotel (sometimes our group fills the entire hotel) in a historic old building in the city center.  Every room is distinctively different, and one of its two dining rooms is in a below ground cellar.

Our extensions to Prague make for a wonderful climax and end to the Christmas Markets cruise.

 

Cesky Krumlov and Cesky Budejovice

One of the streets in Cesky Krumlov.
 
Group members just outside the Cesky Krumlov town walls, with part of the castle structure in the background.
 
The town square in Cesky Budejovice.

Our day tour south of Prague, through the countryside, and to the two towns of Cesky Krumlov and Cesky Budejovice is a highlight of our time in The Czech Republic.

Cesky Budejovice is a nice enough town, with its main claim to fame being it is the original home of Budweiser beer and its beautiful town square.

The day's real treat is our time in the beautiful medieval castle town of Cesky Krumlov.

This picturesque town, dating back to the 13th century, has been made a World Heritage site due to its well preserved mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

It has an impressive castle on a hill above the town, a lovely town center, and a gorgeous river running through it.  The town is very beautiful, and has lots of fascinating little stores to visit and perhaps buy things from!

 

The End - and another Beginning

One of the nicest things about our tours is the people who choose to come.  It takes a special sort of person to read through all the material on this site and to choose to join our tours, and while we start each tour as strangers, we invariably end as friends.
 
Ah - it's a tough job - surrounded by classy women, drinking free champagne, eating too much wonderful food, and luxuriating along the Danube!  Why not come along yourself and see just how tough it is?
 
Another flash back to the Captain's Farewell Dinner - thanks for reading through this journal.
 
And now, on behalf of both Amawaterways and The Travel Insider, may we invite you to join us on this year's Danube Christmas Markets Cruise, and share a glass of pink champagne?

And so, another cruise comes to an end.  I've done five so far - and each one truly is better than the last.

But, as one cruise ends, I already start counting down to the next one, and the new group of friends I'll meet and make on another lovely cruise along the Danube.

I hope you'll choose to come share these experiences and pleasures yourself, and I hope that after your own Christmas Markets Cruise, you'll agree with me that it is one of the very finest travel experiences of your life, too.

 

Part 4 of a four part Photo Journal of the 2007 Travel Insider Christmas Markets Tour.  Click the links for other pages in this series.

Part 1 :  Munich, Bavaria and the Amadagio
Part 2 :  Along the Danube in Germany
Part 3 :  Beautiful Austria
Part 4 :  Hungary, Slovakia and The Czech Republic

Now that you've read about it, please consider joining us for this year's Christmas Markets Cruise along the Danube.

Click here for the full details of this cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.

 

Originally published 26 Sep 2008, last update 20 Jul 2017

 
 
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