For the Summer of 2018, we have planned something quite different from any of our past travels in Europe. We have not spent the past 6 months laboring over extensive itineraries, booking accommodations, renting cars and figuring out train schedules (although, in reality, we do love to do all of those things). This year, we decided to let someone else do all of the planning…and I mean every.last.detail! This year, we are going to sit back and enjoy a two and half week river cruise!
Okay, so I know we are not alone. It’s a quiet Sunday evening, you are at home relaxing on the sofa, about to watch some PBS show such as Downtown Abbey, and then the ad comes on….classical music plays as you see the river boat slowly gliding by some lovely European building that you don’t quite recognize (hint: it’s the Parliament Building in Budapest) and the picture-perfect (slightly older) couple in their smart outfits stand on their deck smiling and drinking wine while sailing past quaint Bavarian towns. It’s a Viking River Cruise, and you have to admit it looks pretty enticing!
All that enticement aside, Josette and I have encountered tourists in Europe that were on one of these very Viking River Cruises. In fact, last year in France, we were touring the Cathedral in Rouen and we saw a Viking group. Let’s just say that the majority of the group had a good 35 to 40 years on us….there were lots of canes and walkers amongst them. Admittedly, we chuckled a bit and decided then and there that we had many years of travel before we would be ready for a river cruise.
But things change…especially after returning home last summer only to receive a handful of very expensive traffic tickets issued to me from lovely ‘ol France. I was shocked. I’m a slow, careful driver, even mocked by wife and friends for driving like an old man. But apparently, not by French standards! Not only did I get ticketed for running a red light, but at some point I was speeding as well. Having to pay in Euros against a weak dollar only added to the sting. So on this trip, I don’t have to worry about traffic tickets, driving in a strange country, paying for insurance, navigating, or getting lost….none of it. We are letting someone else take care of it all.
Our trip is called the “Grand European Tour“, and it is a solid two-week journey that takes us through 4 different countries. We are starting in Amsterdam and making stops in Germany, Austria and ending in Budapest, Hungary. We extended our trip a bit by adding a few days in Amsterdam before the river cruise begins.
I love to share all of the sights and sounds of our travels on this blog and show the food and drink we devour, and I intend to do that again this year. But in past posts, I have definitely let my history major invade my brain, and I get a little too detailed in the history behind the places we visit…which takes a lot of time and effort to write and research, but also to read! So this year, I am going to stay away from that and concentrate on documenting all of the things we do and see, what we eat, the people we encounter, the cultures we experience and also, what it is like to take a Viking River Cruise. Obviously, I’m not a paid spokesperson for Viking (or anyone else), so I intend to let readers know quite honestly if it was worth the very heavy price tag!
Our 10-year-old is safely tucked away with family for the month of July and will actually be taking her first ocean cruise to the Caribbean in a few weeks. So we are once again going on this trip as a couple. We leave New York on the evening of July 3rd and will awake in Amsterdam on the 4th….so join us as we embark on our European adventure version 2018!