Danube River Cruise on the AMA Waterways Amalyra - Page 4

5/30/09 to 6/11/09

 

Page 1  -  Budapest, Hungary and ship information 

Page 2  -  Ship/Entertainment;  Bratislava, Slovakia;  Vienna, Austria

Page 3  -   Durnstein, Austria;  Melk, Austria;  Salzburg, Austria;  Passau, Germany;  Regensburg, Germany

Page 4  -   Nuremberg, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic

 

Nuremberg, Germany

Once again we had a morning to cruise the river before we got off the ship to head for Nuremberg.  During the night we had left the Danube River and were now cruising on the Main Danube Canal.  It is a 106 mile canal that was completed in 1992.  We would pass through 7 of the 16 locks; but would miss most of them due to the way we toured to Nuremberg. 

   

It was quite relaxing sitting on the sundeck watching the rolling hills and scenery along the canal pass by. 

   

 Lots of people were enjoying the canal from the banks.  Some even camped out along the canal.  We even saw a deer farm.

    

I knew that we would be passing under some low bridges on this stretch, since the wheelhouse was now completely lowered and the captain was navigating the ship with his head sticking out of an opening on the top of the wheelhouse.  Additionally, all of chairs were off the upper portion of the sundeck and even the railings along the outside were laying down flat to keep the profile of the ship as low as possible.

    

When we came to the bridges, I understood the need to keep the low profile.  There wasn’t much room to spare.  These river boats were definitely built with these low bridges in mind.

   

One of the interesting things that would happen this morning was that we would be crossing the European Continental Divide; which is the highest point on the canal.  Up until now when we entered a lock, the water would raise us up to the next level.  After passing the Divide, the locks would bring us down to a lower level.  Bori was discussing this event over the loud speaker network so that everyone would know when we crossed it.  When we finally got there, we saw the large concrete markers on both sides of the canal.  Later in the day, we would receive certificates in our cabin indicating that we had made the crossing.  I guess that it is something like celebrating when cruising over the equator on an ocean cruise. 

    

For our tour to Nuremberg, the Amalyra made a quick stop in the town of Roth.  The ship just pulled over to the edge of the canal and put out a ramp on the grass.  Kind of convenient not having to use a dock.  We stopped here for everyone to load onto the tour busses that would take us on a 30 minute trip to the city.  Since it takes over four hours to get to Nuremberg from Roth on the canal due to the many locks, this was a great way to maximize our tour time.

We had a choice of two different tours in Nuremberg, the Medieval Nuremberg tour or the World War II tour.  In researching, I read that some of the better World War II sites weren’t on this tour; plus since I appreciate medieval sites, we chose the medieval tour.  When we got back to the ship later, several people we talked to complained that their WWII tour was a total waste of time; which is a shame, since ours was quite nice.  As we arrived into town, I could see that Nuremberg was a very old town.  The buildings were different from other cities we had visited.  I was fascinated with the snow holders on the roof that looked like little fences to hold the snow from falling to the ground.

    

It was a very pretty city with lots to look at.  We passed a beautiful cemetery called the Rose Cemetery.  The name was quite appropriate.  I was lucky to be able to take photos of it through the bus windows.

 

Our first destination was the Imperial Palace.  This was a large fortified group of buildings surrounded by a moat.  It was very well preserved.

    

The castle entryways were designed cleverly to protect them from invaders.  The path to the gates were curved and on an incline to keep battering rams from being used effectively.

 

When going through the tunnel to the castle grounds, there were openings in the roof to drop down an assortment of offensive things, such as hot oil, on invaders before they could get any further.

 

I know I wouldn’t have wanted to be in an invading group.  The walls were high and there were lots of openings for shooting arrows down at enemies.  Now it is just a very interesting and pretty place to visit.

    

Being on a hill, the castle grounds provide great views looking down on the old town.  Since Nuremberg was badly damaged in WWII, it is really impressive to see how well the town has been brought back to its original beauty.

    

Once again, Carol had taken the easier walking tour.  Another good choice on her part.  From the castle, our group walked around the grounds and then down the hill to the main town.  From the castle courtyard it didn’t look too bad.

    

   

But it was a long way down there.  Thank goodness we didn’t have to walk up that hill.

    

As I walked through the town, I admired some of the lovely architecture.

    

Our final destination was the main square and its gorgeous fountain named appropriately Beautiful Fountain.  Quite an ornate fountain!

   

 

Also on this square was Our Lady’s Church.  I went inside, but after some of the other spectacular churches we had visited on this tour, it just didn’t compare.

    

I walked around the area and crossed the bridge over the river next to the square and then headed over to the largest church in Nuremberg, the St. Lawrence’s Church.  On the way over it started to rain.  Quite surprising after the lovely weather we had enjoyed all day.

    

The exterior of the church was impressive.  I wasn’t able to take photos inside of Our Lady’s Church, but it was similar in design to this Gothic church. 

        

Fortunately we had both brought umbrellas, so we were able to walk around the shops while others cowered under any cover they could find to keep dry.  Thankfully the rain didn’t last too long. We returned to the bus to head for the Amalyra for one last time.  This would be our last night on her and there was a Captain’s Cocktail Party and Gala Dinner planned.

  

Disembarkation and Post-Cruise 

Unlike ocean cruises, where luggage has to be out on the last night, on this cruise we didn’t have to put out luggage until 7:00 AM on the disembarkation day.  It really does make the process less of a hassle.  During and after breakfast we said our farewells to the wonderful Amalyra staff.  We had become very fond of several of them and would certainly miss our new friends.

Although we were going to have to leave the Amalyra, the trip still had three more days to go; and they would be spent in Prague.  Most of our fellow travelers were also going on to Prague as was our Cruise Director, Bori.  We were scheduled to leave the ship at 8:25 AM, which didn’t give the crew much time to clear the luggage from the hallways; but they did fine.  I looked out of our balcony to see that the luggage was being put on the dock for us to identify before it was moved to the assigned busses.  Although it was challenging to find each piece of luggage with all the people trying to do the same thing, once a piece was identified, it was marked and quickly moved to the bus.  Everyone was helping to move the luggage, even the Captain.  Like I said earlier in the review, this staff was a team and everyone helped out to get the job done.

 

At last we began our trip to the Czech Republic.  It would take eight hours to get to Prague, with a two hour lunch break in the town of Karlovy Vary.  I really enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way.  There were lots of farms and rolling hills.

    

 

Karlovy Vary

As we were driving into town, we could tell that it was going to be a really nice stop.  Karlovy Vary, which is called Carlsbad in German, is a very popular vacation spot due to the numerous hot mineral springs and spas.  The town is nestled in the mountains and is built up along a river.  We got off the bus in front of the Emperor Spa, a beautiful French Renaissance building.

    

We then walked along the river passing the Grandhotel Pupp.  It is a very fancy place, and was used in the James Bond movie Casino Royal.

    

We then headed down the main road that runs along the river.  The town has some really gorgeous buildings.  For hundreds of years, the hot mineral springs have made Karlovy Vary a major league tourist destination with lots of hotels.

    

   

Our guide next took us to a modern building called the Hot Spring Colonnade.  There were several fountains where tourists could taste the water.  Most of the tourists had brought jars to get some of the healthful warm liquid.  We had tasted mineral water before; but, hoping this was better, I chose to cup my hand to just get a taste.  My gosh it tasted bad.  I don’t care how healthful this water was, I couldn’t drink it.  We walked to the adjoining room where the water was spraying up in the air.  Since the springs are quite hot, this enclosed room was very hot and humid.  We couldn’t wait to get back out into the cool outdoors.

      

Not too far away was a wooden structure called the Market Square Colonnade, that looked like a gingerbread house. 

    

A little further along we came to the ornate Mill Spring Colonnade.  There were just so many different types of architecture in the lovely city.

    

Just walking along the river provided so many beautiful things to see.

    

Our main reason to stop in this town was to have a lunch break.  Our tour guide told us about a restaurant just off the main street called Bernard.  It had a nice English Pub feel to it. 

 

A group from our bus had gotten there before us.  It took quite a while for us to even get our order taken, and then we had to wait much too long for our drinks to be served.  The other group finally started receiving their lunches, which looked very good.  Lunch was taking a lot longer than we wanted to spend just eating.  It turns out that there was only one cook and one bartender.  When the other group finished their meals and we still hadn’t been served ours, we considered just leaving and finding something to eat on the way to the bus.  Finally after 55 minutes, lunch was served. 

    

The meal was very good, but we had to wolf it down since we had to get back to the bus.  I was really disappointed that lunch had taken so long.  This would have been a great town to do more exploring in.  We walked quickly along the river taking in as much of this beautiful city as we could.  Karlovy Vary is a very special town and I will definitely return if I am ever in the area again.

    

Later when we returned to the bus, Bori told us that people don’t understand why they have to stop in Karlovy Vary for two hours for just a lunch break.  After the visit, they tell her they wish they could have stayed longer.  I couldn’t agree more.

The rest of the ride to Prague was also enjoyable passing large fields of a yellow flowered crop that we can’t remember the name of.

    

   

 

Prague, Czech Republic

We arrived at our home for the next three nights, the President Hotel (www.hotelpresident.cz/).  It really stood out, since it was of a modern design, unlike most of the buildings in the area.

There was a long line to check in.  Fortunately Bori had us fill in some registration forms the night before on the boat, so the process went much quicker then I expected.  When we looked for our room on the fourth floor, we found that we had a corner room.  We walked into a small entry area leading into the main room.  WOW!!  It was an awesome room.  The views were just incredible.  We could look out on to the river from either side of the corner windows.  Looking the other way as well as from the entry area was the view of a lovely church and a courtyard.

    

   

The room itself was very spacious and the bathroom quite large and nicely appointed.  Coming from a small river boat cabin, it felt like we were in a mansion. We had really lucked out.

   

     

After we got settled in, a group of us took a walk to get a preview of Prague.  I couldn’t believe what a pretty city it was.  Every building was ornate or decorated.  All of us were walking around with our heads looking up.  It reminded me of our previous visit to Barcelona, where we did the same thing; but the architecture was very different there.

    

Just a few short blocks from the hotel, we came to Old Town Square.  What a beautiful area.  I knew I would be coming back there many more times over the next three days.

 

   

We then walked down to the Powder Tower.  A very old structure indeed!

 

 I just couldn’t get over how many beautiful buildings there were in this city.  I can understand now why it is used in so many movies.

    

They also had some unusual human powered vehicles.  This looked like a fun town.

 

 

I also got to get my first view of the famous Astronomical Clock.  Since the clock had just struck on the hour when I arrived, the large crowd to watch it was just breaking up.

    

   

I walked around the amazing square for a few minutes taking in the beauty of the buildings, fountain and churches before heading back to the hotel.

   

As soon as I returned, we were ready to head back out for dinner.  Bori had recommended the Kolkovna Restaurant (www.kolkovna.cz) , which was between our President Hotel and Old Town Square; so it was just a short walk.

     

We found a table outside, since the weather was perfect.  Plus it was kind of warm when we had checked out the inside of the restaurant.  We were lucky to get an outside table, since it was a busy restaurant and is a prime spot to eat for locals.  Getting an outside table usually involves a lengthy wait.

 

 We weren’t too hungry because we had eaten lunch late in Karlovy Vary, so Carol just ordered a bowl of Country Cabbage Soup that was made with sauerkraut.  She just loved it.  I ordered a Smoked Pork Hock Roasted in Black Beer.  My goodness, what a tasty meal, especially with the local Czech beer, Pilsner Urquell.  We really liked this place and there were a lot of items on the menu that we wanted to try.  We ended up eating there three more times over the next two days. 

    

It had been a very long day, but since the weather forecast for the next two days was not good, I wanted to go out and take some night photos of the Castle District.

    

I walked down to the next bridge, but didn’t have the energy to go down to the next one, which was the famous Charles Bridge.  It would have to wait for another day.  On the way back to the President, I passed an unusually lit up statue of a person.  I would check this one out in the daytime.  I also saw several well illuminated buildings.

   

I was glad to get back to the hotel.  It was bedtime and a very full day was planned for tomorrow.

 

Prague – Day 2

After a wonderful night’s sleep, we took advantage of the included buffet breakfast.  As with the Kempinski Hotel in Budapest, the President offered a very good breakfast.  AMA had picked out two excellent hotels for this group.  The location, service and food were all top notch at both hotels. 

Our city tour started at 9:00 AM.  Since we weren’t on the ship any more, we didn’t have the vox audio devices to hear our guide, Renata.  We had been spoiled.  It was really difficult to hear what she was telling us due to the large loud crowds and not being able to stay close to her.  The bus took us up Castle Hill to the Hradcany Castle. 

 

From there we would get our first look at St. Vitus Cathedral.  I couldn’t wait to get inside. 

 

As we approached the castle, we got to see the palace guards by the entrance.  They kept straight faces despite many people standing next to them for photos.

 

Passing through the entrance we came to a large courtyard with statues and fountains.  Since we were just passing by the castle, not doing a tour, Renata told us about the castle and then took us over to St. Vitus Cathedral. 

 

With Carol in the pink group, she spent more time on the castle grounds and got to see the uniquely decorated Schwarzenberg Palace and the changing of the guards.

   

   

Both groups went inside the St. Vitus Cathedral, which is a very large gorgeous church.  The ceilings were so high.  The stained glass windows were just beautiful. 

  

   

   

   

There were numerous small chapels all around the building.  It was an impressive cathedral.

    

   

There was an incredible statue made out of two tons of silver near the front of the cathedral. It was the Baroque silver sepulcher of St. Jon of Nepomuk, one of the most important Czech patron-saints.  It had a guard watching over it.  During WWII, it had actually been dismantled and hidden to protect it.

    

The masterpiece of the Cathedral is the richly decorated St. Wenceslas Chapel.  We were not able to enter it, but we did get a good view of it through the entryway.

 

When we left the cathedral, we got to see the exterior beauty from a different angle.  This is what I call a cathedral.

    

From there we walked into the gardens to get a view of the city below and the surrounding area; as well as the Petrin Hill Lookout Tower.  It is sometimes referred to as Prague’s Eiffel Tower.

    

We then went to the gates of the palace in the main square of the castle.  It was very crowded with tourists. 

    

Carol’s group was taken back to the hotel by bus directly from the castle.  The other groups got to take the stairs all the way down to the bottom of the hill.  It would be quite a trek.  I was shocked that while we were going down the hill some people were actually walking all the way up the very steep and long staircase.

 

At the bottom of the staircase was a bar with a cute attraction of what looked like a beggar reaching out of a jail cell.  After the climb down the hill, it was tempting to enter that bar for a beer.

    

But I was distracted by the lovely St. Nicholas Church just ahead.  Our tour did not go inside the church, but I planned on coming back, since it was supposed to be a beauty inside. 

    

We continued walking down the very crowded street toward one of Prague’s major tourist attractions, the Charles Bridge.  Once on the bridge I saw an open air restaurant that advertised Budweiser Beer or Budvar.  This is the original Czech Budweiser not the American brand.  Since I was tired from the long walk, I thought it would be a good time to stop for a beer while the group tour was taking a short break.  It was a very good beer.

    

   

As with the other parts of Prague, the area around the bridge was quite pretty; but the bridge was crowded due in part to half of the bridge being renovated.  I was kind of expecting there to at least be some renovation on this tourist attraction, based on my recent experiences in other cities. 

    

   

The bridge itself had many statues lining both sides as well as entertainers pan handling for money.  The towers at each end of the bridge were heavily decorated.

    

From the bridge we walked along a lovely street on the way to Old Town Square.  More beautifully decorated buildings. 

     

The tour ended at the square.  I got to take more photos of the lovely buildings there.

    

There was another human powered taxi type vehicle circling around looking for customers.

 

The tour was over and it was lunch time, so back to the hotel I headed to get Carol.  We were anxious to have another meal at Kolkovna.  Carol had the Traditional Bohemian Cabbage Pancakes and I had the Potato Soup in a bread bowl.  Once again Carol had gone with a sauerkraut based meal.  She really liked the sauerkraut in this part of the world.  Both of our meals once again were just delicious. 

    

After lunch we went back to Old Town Square to do some shopping and just look around the area.  A few of the popular items in Prague are garnet jewelry and Czech crystal products.

    

After Carol was worn out, we went back to the hotel.  We had seen a bunch of swans out of our hotel room window, so I went down to see them.  They were pretty friendly and came close to the banks whenever a new person would approach.  They were used to getting food handouts.

    

Before we left home, I had made reservations for a very special restaurant that I had read about during my research.  We were going to eat at Restaurant Zvonice ( http://www.restaurantzvonice.cz/ ).  It is the only restaurant in Europe that is in a bell tower and situated over the original frame which holds the original bell which was cast in 1518.  The restaurant wasn’t too far away, but it was far enough and we were tired enough to have the hotel call a taxi. 

We arrived at the Jindrisska tower where Zvonice was located on the 7th and 8th floors.  I arrived early so that I could get photos of the tower and the inside of the restaurant.  The views from the tower, although obstructed were really nice.

  

The restaurant only seats 22 people and is definitely more expensive than the average Prague eatery, but the unique location itself makes it worth the premium if you are so inclined.  The menu looked really good, but with the late lunch we had and overeating we had been doing all week, we weren’t that hungry.  We did not order any appetizers since we wanted to be able to finish our main courses.  It was the right decision, even though the appetizers looked really good.  I ordered a chicken breast stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts, served on cognac sauce with au gratin potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  Carol had the grilled chicken filet in Parma ham jacket served on green asparagus cream with ricotta-asparagus tortellini.  It surely sounded good. 

    

   

   

We had a very nice pair of waiters.  They were very attentive and a pleasure to have waiting on us.  A pre-dinner course was brought out with a shrimp on lettuce with a balsamic dressing. 

   

It was very nice and it made me wish I had ordered an appetizer.  Next came some great bread with a yummy pimento cheese type spread. 

 

The main courses arrived and they were well presented and looked great; and they tasted great too.  It was a delicious meal.  The portion size was much bigger than it appeared.  Neither of us could finish the whole meal.  It was most unfortunate we couldn’t take it back to the hotel in a doggy bag; but we really didn’t need any more food.

    

I wished that we could have tried a dessert; but there was just no way we could even share one.  We had a cab called and returned to the President. 

Carol got ready for bed, but I had to go back to the square to get some illumination photos.  It was after 10:00 PM, but there were still plenty of people in the square.

    

   

   

It was definitely a different look at night.  I can’t say enough about how beautiful the city of Prague is.  When I got back to our room, I crashed.  It had been another wonderful day.

 

Prague – Day 3

This would be our last day in Prague and for this vacation.  I had already cut back my list of places to visit in Prague because there just wasn’t enough time, plus I had been developing a cold over the last several days and it was reducing my stamina.  But there were a few places that I wanted to visit that I could walk to.  After breakfast I took off on my own to see the Spanish Synagogue.  It was only a couple of blocks from the hotel and Bori had told us that it was a “must see”.  She said that it was the most beautiful synagogue in Europe.  I found that hard to believe after visiting the Doheny Street Synagogue in Budapest; but Bori had been right with all of her previous suggestions, so I had to go.  I was able to get a photo of the back of the synagogue, which we passed whenever we went toward the square; but I was having a difficult time finding the entrance.  At last I found how to enter, but it looked more like a store front than a place of worship.  When I entered I was told to go back to get tickets from the booth next door.  That seemed strange, but when I went to the ticket booth I understood better.  There are many Jewish locations in this general area that can be visited and there are several ticket packages that can be obtained.  It was really quite confusing.  I wanted to visit the Spanish Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery.  In order to do this I had to get a ticket package that included some other places also.  In addition, I wanted to take photos, so I had to buy a photo ticket.  Unfortunately the only place photos could be taken was in the cemetery.  I wasn’t pleased, since in Budapest I was able to take photos in their Synagogue with a photo ticket.  Oh well, I would get over it. 

 

When I entered the synagogue, I understood why Bori had so strongly recommended it.  It was just gorgeous.  It is of a Moorish Revival architecture; which I had never heard of; but it was quite different from anything I had seen with its various colored geometric designs totally covering all the surfaces.  I was so wanting to take a photo to be able to share and remember its beauty; but I begrudgingly complied with the rules.  Here is a link to a Wikipedia article that has some photos.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Synagogue_(Prague) )

I also took a photo of an advertisement for a concert that was to be held in the Spanish Synagogue, since it showed what it looked like pretty well.

 

I then headed over to the cemetery.  On the way there, I visited several other sites that were included in the ticket I purchased.  They were museums and didn’t allow any photo taking either. 

 

I had previously seen photos of the Old Jewish Cemetery; but I had not expected it to be as big as it was.  In the 15th century Jews were forbidden to bury their dead outside of their own district.  As a result, bodies were buried in stacks as much as twelve deep.  This meant that there were lots of grave stones for each plot as can be seen in the photos.  It was unlike any cemetery I had visited.

    

   

On the way back to the hotel to get Carol, I noticed the statues on top of the pylons on each end of the bridge close by our hotel.  Since they were so high above the street, I hadn’t really paid much attention to them before.  Quite nice!

 

We left the hotel and made our way to Old Town Square, where I left Carol to shop and I continued my own city tour.  We would meet in an hour to go to lunch.  My next destination was to the Wenceslas Square which was in New Town.  Although it was still an old section of the town, it just wasn’t as old as Old Town.  It was another enjoyable walk through streets with ornately decorated buildings.  Prague is such a pleasant town to walk around.  There was always something to look at.

   

   

   

When I arrived at Wenceslas Square, there was road work being done, so the street was partially closed off.  It was a much more commercialized area of Prague; but the architecture was still lovely.  It was just more difficult to see it with the advertisements and construction projects.  At the end of the square was the National Museum. 

    

I headed back to our planned meeting place in the square.  When I passed the Astronomical Clock, which is on the side of the Old Town Hall Tower, I remembered that the view from the tower is supposed to be something to see.  Time was getting short, but I just had to do it.  The signs said that the tour started on the third floor where an elevator would take you to the top observation area.  There were some elevators on the ground floor, but a sign said that they were not in operation.  Oh well, going up a couple of floors wasn’t a big deal.  Bad assumption again! 

 

They were very tall floors with lots of steps.  Also when I climbed the first sets of stairs, I realized that I was now on the first floor.  Ground level at the Tower was Floor 0, so I would still have two more full floors to climb.  Had my cold not affected my stamina, it wouldn’t have been so bad; but by the time I got to the third floor, I was beat.  The elevator ticket person gave me an understanding look.  She had seen many in my condition before.  At least I wouldn’t have to climb to the top of the 210 foot tall Tower; although I already felt like I had climbed most of it.  When I saw the modern cylindrically shaped elevator and the distance to the top, I was glad I spent the $5 for the elevator ticket.  Most people were climbing up all the staircases to get there.

 

The ride to the top didn’t take long.  I came out into a small room with walkways to the narrow observation deck that went all around the tower. 

 

The views were just incredible.  What a beautiful view of the square, churches and many orange roofed buildings all around the city.

    

   

   

I kept walking around snapping away taking photos from every angle.  I didn’t have much time, because I was now late for meeting Carol.  I knew she would understand, but we like to be punctual.  After returning on the elevator, I saw some people getting on the elevator to the third floor that I had thought was broken.  Apparently only one of them was inoperable, so I took the easy way back to ground level.

I quickly walked over to the fountain where Carol was patiently waiting for me. We planned to have lunch at our favorite place to eat, the Kolkovna Restaurant.  Carol got the Meat Platter, which had a selection of meats as the name implied.  I got some Venison Goulash.  Once again everything was most delicious.  After lunch Carol went back to the hotel to pack for our trip home tomorrow.  I wanted to go back over to the section of town on the other side of the Charles Bridge to see the St. Nicholas Church.  Being with the group tour yesterday, I didn’t get to explore some of the lovely areas in that part of town.  The view near the bridge was very nice and there were some beautiful statues there also.

   

   

I walked across the Charles Bridge and headed for St. Nicholas Church.  The church was supposed to have an ornate interior and it did not disappoint me.  It was very beautiful and I took way too many photos.

    

    

   

   

 Upon leaving St. Nicholas there were other lovely churches close by; but after St. Nicholas, I was finished.  It would be the last church I would visit on this trip.  I had ended on a very good one.

 

During my research, I had read about a highly recommended garden to visit, the Vrtba Garden.  It was a UNESCO site.  It was supposed to be close to St. Nicholas Church and is regarded as probably the most beautiful Baroque garden in the whole of Central Europe.  I had the name of the gardens printed out so I could ask how to get there.  The guard in St. Nicholas told me where they were, but somehow I couldn’t find them.  I asked what appeared to be a tour guide and she had never heard of them.  A shopkeeper did not recognize the name, but said maybe it was just down the street.  It was a warm day for this trip, low 70’s with hot sun and I was getting very tired trying to find the gardens.  I asked some people that worked in a restaurant and they didn’t recognize the name either; but said it could be the gardens on the other side of a wall behind their restaurant.  I walked through the gate and here in the middle of this crowded city was a lovely park. 

It looked so inviting.  The trees provided shade from the hot sun, so I sat down on one of the park benches to rest.  After spending most of the day walking all over Prague, it was so nice to just stop.  There was a most refreshing cool breeze.  The birds were singing and I could smell the sweet fragrance of flowers.  I was in heaven.  This wasn’t the gardens I was looking for.  It was the Vojan Gardens which was established as an orchard in 1248. 

    

I couldn’t believe how peaceful this place was and how much I was just enjoying relaxing there.  It was hard to leave, but after thirty minutes I needed to get up or I might have ended up falling asleep and spending the night there. 

I walked back across the river on another bridge passing some of the spots I had seen on my first night in Prague.  The illuminated person statue looked quite different in the daylight.  People were enjoying the parks and relaxing.  I certainly related to that.

   

   

I got back to the hotel around 4:00 PM.  It was time for a little power nap.  I surely needed it, as did Carol who had been packing all afternoon.  When it was time for dinner, we didn’t have to decide where to go for our last dinner in Prague.  It would be the usual place.  We had to have our last supper there.  We had to wait a few minutes for an outside table to become available.  Carol ordered the Beef Stroganoff and I ordered the Lamb Hock Braised in Red Wine, since several of our fellow travelers had raved about this selection for the last three days.

   

Once again we had just a wonderful meal at the Kolkovna Restaurant.  We normally like to try different restaurants, but with this one so convenient to our hotel, so reasonably priced and just such good food, we had no need to search for another place.  We were quite full, but we had wanted to try their Vanilla Crème Brule with Fruit, so we shared one.  The consistency was a bit different from what we were used to, but it was a nice finish to a fantastic meal.

After we returned to the hotel, we heard noises outside.  We looked out the windows and saw a fireworks display on the river.  It was a nice way to finish our vacation.  We had enjoyed a wonderful two weeks in this beautiful part of the world.

 

Recap

We had talked about taking a European river cruise for many years.  We are so glad that we chose this itinerary on the Danube River with AMA Waterways.  This was a wonderful blend of a land tour and a cruise, with all the benefits of both.  A river cruise is a wonderful way to visit these beautiful towns.  We both look forward to our next one.

 

    

Below is a link to the Shutterfly albums with other photos from the vacations:
Shutterfly Albums

  

 

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