AT#664 - Danube River Cruise
The bags bags on a roll and read. It's go real good passport traveler episode six hundred and sixty four today the traveler talks about castles and potatoes and canal see Christmas markets and blocks as we sailed the Danube mine and Rhine River from Budapest to Amsterdam amateur traveler. I'm your host Chris Christensen. Let's talk about a Danube River Cruise. I'd like to welcome back to the show Mark Baker travel writer in guidebook author. Who's come today to talk to us about a cruise that may be on your bucket list which is a cruise on the Danube mark? Welcome back to the show. Thank you Chris Mark. I say as a guidebook author just recently the author of the Slovenia lonely the planet guide I think is the most recent one that you have published but he's been on the show previously talking about a cruise on the Volga River or at least a trip down the Volga River and so as good. You seem to be river based here recently more from your water man. I have specialty. I always appreciate that well and I feel like this may be a silly question. But why are we talking about the Danube. We're talking about the Danube and the mind and the Rhine rivers what I've been doing are these combination crews from Budapest Budapest up to Amsterdam so most of the cruise takes place on the Danube between Save Budapest and Regensburg or pass out Germany and then at that point than we hop onto another river the mine river in Germany and then we rioted across southern Germany towards closer to France we take a right on the Rhine River and then all the way up to answer that takes about fifteen days and where are we talking about this. Probably the first reason is that these cruises have become really really popular. The European River cruise industry has boomed in the past few years although there are several different rivers that you can try in Europe including several rivers in France and other places but it seems like most people seem to opt for this through the heart of Europe mark I wouldn't say basic cruise but I kind of a good introductory to Europe crews. Yeah I would say either this one or the shorter a Rhine River cruise that goes more from say Basel Up to Amsterdam which I've done takes about a week are the two that I think are the most popular as far as I can tell yeah exactly that's a really popular one and a very beautiful cruise well and we have talked about that one before on the show and so one of the reasons I do want to start this in the order that you said from Budapest up is that we have less coverage on that Danube part and the other Mites River now the the Mine River Yeah. Your mind says the city on the mind room yeah excellent. Well you know the Sydney Parang for it online. That's Frankfort on the main river. Basically that's I know that okay. I should know that better than that okay so when you say mine were spilling M. A. N.. Then yes yeah exactly that was what was throwing the okay excellent <music> so we're going to start in Budapest which we've talked about a little on the show in fact we took a group of listeners to Budapest two years ago. Now are the things that we want to do in Budapest before we get on the boat. River cruising has a lot a lot of advanced it just say you don't have to get off the boat and repack and pack your things. You don't have to find dinner reservations every night etc but one disadvantage I would say is that you never actually spend that much time in any individual city so some of the guests have said to me that they wish that they could spend more time in Budapest because it's such a big city got all kinds of things to see and do and with the river cruise we only really spend a day and a half there and that's not enough time to see everything there so probably what you WanNa do is to fly into Budapest a day or two before the crews get acclimated to the time zone and then maybe take a day or two days to see some the things that you really want us into pests that might not be on the cruise excursion well in with cruises in general. I usually recommend you get in a day early. Although River cruises are a little less problematic in the sense that if you miss a cruise in the Caribbean for instance you're going to have to fly the next spot. If you mix a European River cruise you get on a train and you go meet the boat. I mean it's it's not as bad you can practically take an uber. The Buddha passed so the next time I think Budapest stops in Vienna. Next is what I'm seeing for some of them so it depends on which which boat you're on an excellent so back to the question anything we want to do in Budapest before we get on the boat or in that there they were not going to cover. It's going to depend on there are also different. Cruise lines are going to have different itineraries. You've been working with an Australian cruise line. Scenic cruise is my understanding right. That's correct what I do. I worked for National Geographic. Expeditions is on these cruises and National Geographic expeditions has partnered with scenic to offer. I don't know how many cruises during the summer maybe ten or twelve different cruises and that would take a normal scenic river cruise and then add a national geographic traffic dimension to it by that I mean that would get me on the boat. I would be holding lectures presentations in the evening about European history or about some of the things they were going to be seeing in the next couple of days or even lectures on contemporary issues issues in politics and whatever's going on in the European Union and then with that National Geographic edition you would also get a national geographic photographer on board and his or her job would be to talk about you know photography from professional the photographer standpoint but also of course to help you to improve your own photography so thanks National Geographic actually adds a couple of its own excursions at some of the destinations so you would get all of the scenic stuff plus. It's the kind of overlay of national geographic stuff well and looking for those sort of theme cruises like the Net Gio cruise. I think are a good option for people because if you're a wine lover you might do these same cruise says a wine cruise with a local vineyard or you can even find other theme cruises that are more strange like particular bands and things like that a less so on the river but there are different things like that and and that will often add to the cost of the cruise a little but it will also add to the value that you've got out of it. It does add to the cost. I believe depending on what you're into crews. Many people just WanNa go have a good time on the rear. I mean we do have a good time and don't get me wrong but they're not really that interested in history architecture contemporary issues whatever sure they just WanNa go to Germany or have some wine or listen to some music and that's great too but we try to offer something different dimension well l. and when we talk about different countries the route we're talking about here would cover hungry obviously Austria Germany Netherlands quite often some boats will also do an excursion into the Czech Republic and then I missing one oh Slovakia also you're going along the border between Slovakia and Hungary much of that is that Danube River yes exactly we also flowed flowed into Slovakia. Daniel does go through Slovakia so we go Hungary Slovakia and then beyond that and then one of the excursions in Vienna that the guests have the option of taking is actually once we get to be on they can get off the boat and get onto a bus and go back to Bratislav and a few hours block your Bratislav if they want to see that excellent that would be great option if you've been to Vienna before Bitumen Bratislav of for instance exactly and I'm assuming that the cruise line you're doing is like. Like a lot of the other major river cruise lines that tend to have at least one including excursion at each stop we normally have three or four urges and those are the national geographic additional ones yeah so probably scenic would offer to at least two in each location and then a third and then sometimes you might even get a Nat G._O.. Additional one so that would give guests the option of four different choices but with some of those be additional additional prices are cruises at least in some of the other cruise companies a lot of those already built into the price. I mean some of them. You have to opt each day. They will do that when at at this additional price but with scenic in which I think is pretty good thing. Is You basically by the whole package so at least one excursion each day is included in the price of your cruise well and that's something that when you were comparing the price of a river cruise. That's something to keep in mind too because I know if I'm off on a big <unk> ocean going ship that a lot of those depending on the class that I'm in if I'm at a luxury class I'm GONNA see more included options but if I'm not if I'm on a carnival or a Holland America or something like that I usually tell people factor in take the price of your cruise times one and a half so you know another fifty percent for the excursions and and I don't mean that in a bad way I just mean that you don't Wanna get so cheap sheep that you don't do excursions and since they're not factored in it's going to be something you need to factor into the cost with the river cruiser. You'RE GONNA start higher price point for a lot of it unless you're comparing again to the luxury cruises but you do have more of this sits included in that you're not gonna pay for and then often you with your on a Viking or I suspect to scenic or a one of these cruise lines. That's on these things often. You're also not paying for every drink that you have dinner. Which is another cost that you need to factor in the think about that? As you're comparing the prices of various vacation options with the cruises that I've been working on with scenic everything is included in the price the food the drinks and the excursion and that's much more typical the river for cruise level yeah yeah. I think it's a great way to go at least for River cruise because you aren't always thinking you know. Should I have this drink or should I have this food or shy. Go on this excursion basically already paid for it so there's no reason not to go over to have a drink. Exactly the only thing that usually non included is the cruch gratuity and so you'd WanNa factor that into your budgeting to and we have an article on amateur traveler about preparing for your first cruise if you have questions questions about this excellent but let's get back to the destinations anything we want to say but Budapest before we moved down the river or up the river in this case at least for our excursions we do a city sightseeing tour on a bus and we have a hiking tour up Buda Castle but what we don't include at least in scenic getting off the bus I mean you see everything from the bus but go to the great synagogue. Take the tour of the Opera House. Take the tour of the parliament building or take a tour tour of the house of terror. What you WanNa do is to to read the fine print very carefully on your cruise itinerary and to make sure that you actually get to the places that you want to go to and don't expect the cruise to always deliver you to the places that you want seek? Sometimes they just won't especially if you're doing a bus tour. That's going to be a very different experience than if you go to the baths or you do have that parameter which you're gonNA need to book ahead of time they have limited D- tours especially in English as we talked about in the recent show that we did on Prague Krakow in Budapest book that early and ahead of time excellent and then we're going up the river. Is Your Next Stop V._N.. Are you you have that backtrack. Track to Bratislav as you said Yeah but we don't actually stop our vote doesn't stop probably some boats do stop and there are some really pretty little towns north of Budapest. When we don't stop at that you can see from the riverfront our next stop in? It's a very long cruise. That day is from Budapest to the N._F._l.. You just got off the plane to get to sleep in. We really sale practically the entire debt next day because for whatever reason you go through some locks and not as quick as you'd think the two cities are not actually close together from the river perspective so it takes the better part of a good day to sell between those two cities and you can actually relax on that day yes excellent and we want to say anything specific about Vienna while we're there you reminded me of something. That's a really great tip for people who are booking a cruise. If you really want to see some of these really very popular attractions like you mentioned Opera House of the parliament <unk> building in Budapest in Vienna of course all kinds of very popular things kind of the Spanish riding school or taking specific towards the health board or some of the thing that you might WanNa do in Vienna concert exactly opera performance. It's really your responsibility wants ability to get out on the web to find performances that you might want to see and to book those tickets. You can't really expect the staff on the boat to do that although they'll help you but you're there on that same day is very limited what they can do to help you and then of course just jumping way ahead to Amsterdam the very same issue pops up there. Do you WanNa go to Anne. Frank better book those tickets months and months in advance so when you buy the cruise ticket look at the itinerary very carefully do some research find a few places that you want to add to the tour's itinerary and then get out on the web and by those tickets. That's really the best advice I think I can give you and are there particular things that you would recommend that typically are not included in Vienna that you what to look for ahead of time we do the the Chandra Palace. which was the summer home of the Habsburg family? There's also that excursion to gratis live of course national geographic is a fantastic mini excursion to the Museum of Natural History where we talked to the curator for their extensive meteorite collection there. It's very very interesting. Sometimes people go to the Belvedere Palace. She's a Baroque Palace very famous one very interesting as well but we didn't do the Spanish riding school and we didn't do a night at the opera we did have a musical performance and beyond but it wasn't that so what you really need to do is like I said kept a supplement your cruise itinerary a little bit on your excellent and like Budapest to have a show show just on Vienna's well. If you WANNA use that for your research excellent. Are we back up the river again then yes. We're exactly now. We're the area that we haven't covered on amateur traveler where we're finally that part of the Danube that if if you're gonNA see it you're probably going to see it on a river cruise. The Danube in Austria becomes very very beautiful cuts through Gorges and valleys and little towns on the river our crews and a lot of the other cruises we stop at two places in central central Austria along the Danube and they're both small picturesque counts. One is really a village called Bernstein has the big castle on the top and then the next one is about thirty kilometers away or so in it's called Melk and it's the home of a very famous Baroque Abbey Monastery and probably most groups will stop in one or the other of those two places and our crews actually stops in both of those places excellent anything else we want to know about those spot not to mention the Abbey when I said we had two or three or even fourth sometimes excursions a Lotta Times the excursions broken out into what people might want to do different groups of what people might WanNa do there might be one set out of excursions that are aimed at very active people so they'll be a hike or bike ride people who are interested less in history but more on food and wine so there might be a wine food tasting there might be a basic city tour and then there might be a specialized museum visit or something like that so that's basically the group. The categories of excursions but between Bernstein in Malik is a very beautiful bicycling trail what we did was we put in Bernstein. We got on their bikes and we. I pedaled a thirty five kilometers twenty miles or so up to milk and then picked up the boat again in Balkan then hop back on and got on for the Ride Sout River cruising. Although you don't get a lot of physical exercise you can't structure the the excursions that you do get a little bit of exercise at least on that particular day. We've talked a lot about the size. No that's interesting because in my experience especially on the Rhine River cruise and I think I was on Avalon nor Alma tended to be an older clientele so it's interesting that they're adding in more of the active adventures because that's going to draw younger people and families more when you say families. I don't Think River cruising is it's not not family friendly but it's it's really more oriented toward couples. Actually than than couples were children. I would say but yeah you're totally right about the age. It used to be not too long ago that most river cruisers cruisers were let's say sixty plus and I would say that still the case but there are many passages in their fifties and forties occasionally even younger couple so the demographic recruiters is changing a little bit and maybe this National National Geographic <unk> adds a layer it appeals to people who are more active generally that could very well be the case. We'll have certainly seen other companies that are trying to draw even in the millennial crowd in the Gen xers and I'm just curious to see if that's going to happen. I'm the the price points we're talking about for some of these Danube one for instance you can break that up and not do the whole two weeks. You could just do the half week two Nurnberg and it's not bad I mean we're talking about right now. I could book that cruise for a little over a two thousand dollars and I was expecting that to be more expensive as we were talking about these and you factor in that I could do that in December and do it with a Christmas markets. which is the last night I was scheduled to do the day cruise but unfortunately a well I got invited to the White House you really get to us but I had to cancel that but that makes that an attractive itinerary at not a bad price point really compared to just when you think think about booking eight nights of hotels and things like that I think the scenic cruises on a little more expensive than that even weeklong cruise but like I said it includes a lot of things I was actually looking at the scenic cruise page as I said that always at right so so you know I wasn't necessarily looking at Nat G._O.? Option but that's a terrific price. I don't know if you could do at that price point sometimes you can even get the cruise company to pick up your airfare and throw in all kinds of other transportation Asian Yep probably not at this price point because this one is on sale already down for fifty percent off or something like that so and cruises will go on sale so that is something you want to look for if you're interested Tintri as look for last minute or look for sales or get on somebody's newsletter because they wanna feel at boat that boat's going to go anyway and so there are sale opportunities available especially if you have some flexibility absolutely right shall we move up the river little more okay next stop after this salts were actually the river. The Danube doesn't actually get that close to Salzburg so you have to put in at a very small port on the river and then get on a bus Daniel over the Celtics <unk> is a day trip. It's treated as I wouldn't say mandatory excursion but I mean like almost the whole boat goes to this city on that day and it's built around sound of music can Mozart and Celtic is interesting even if you're not interested in the sound of music and or in votes art. It's it's a beautiful city. It's got a lot of great architecture in it's nice little ramble around the place of course if you are interested in the movie or if you are interested in in Mozart then it'll have special significance for you. Don't be one of the highlights of your trip to shore excellent a beautiful city as well yes absolutely and that when we do have an amateur ever episode about Oh oh you do of course of course we're coming. We're coming up on fourteen years here. There's a few episodes yeah well. It's me personally not a fan of the Santa Music not a non fan but it's not anything I really spend a lot of time thinking about or or re watching but very much in the minority on the river cruises people can sing ADL vice and all the songs from that movie and there are some really fun excursions that are built around the movie like we'd go up into a lodge in the hills near where some of the scenes were filmed and we get a little bit of a song and dance routine from some some Austrian kids. It's very nice. I think I could probably do all the songs by heart so okay get. Let's fess out here by now again. I know like into that's for sure. Excellent from Salzburg were still in the Danube and the river turns towards the north and the West and we start entering into Germany at this point but this is is an area of the river that is not particularly well developed in terms of river transportation technology on talking about locks and other types of mechanical things that make the river passable and all types of weather so if you have a low water or high water especially low water especially high water this little piece of the Danube say between Salzburg and Regensburg going through pass out or say Passau and Regensburg. This is a place where your boat might be caught out a little little bit happened occasionally. Well and I know one of the things that they will do at that point. I talked to somebody who did a river cruise recently and they were doing this same thing on the Rhine where because of low water they couldn't get through the Rhine River Gorge and the company they were on. I believe it was Viking in this case just met them with a sister ship and they got on a smaller boat to bridge the gap and all of their luggage was transferred and you you have the same cabin same Kevin Number. It's just a completely different boat on a relatively small percentage of river cruises but it's significant so it's something that you always have to watch out more when you book a river cruise is that there will be some summers or some seasons where the water is low and some weather while the CY and of course river cruises both of these compose big problems into low in your scraping the bottom too high and the bridge and the top of the boats are hitting the bottom of the bridges so there's a window where the river's just right and most of the time you get through just fine but you always have to prepare for potentially swapping ships usually doing a bus transfer. I I remember heard of a boat transfer but that would be maybe a better way to do it well. They were at the Rhine River Gorge where she wanted to see and you want to see from the water and so that's why they the bow transfer there right yeah of course Mike I River cruise last summer we ran into low water and we had to take a bus between Salzburg and Regensburg. Actually Oh wow we got our first boat and then we got onto a different boat in Regensburg. The logistics involved for the cruise company are something that I respect being being able to do that in a fashion that that people's stuff in the right place that everybody finds the right ship is something that is tip your hat to. I have to say that they have it down to a science. It's really well done. It's an inconvenience but it's a relatively minor and can be instant. It shouldn't be anything that's going to ruin a trip. That's for sure and my impression. Is that high water. You're more likely to get it early in the season with the snow melting and that low water you're more likely to get in the drought in the middle of the summer. I am I and all on base here in generally correct but sometimes the weather is so unpredictable sure this last cruise that I did. I just completed a cruise two weeks ago and we started in Budapest in near flood stage and there were rumors going around the boat that might have to swap boats around Regensburg where we are in our discussion because the water might be too high. Life but in the end it worked out perfectly we sailed all the way from Budapest Amsterdam without any without any problems excellent anything else. We want to say about this section before we move a little further along the main highlights here are Regensburg and then Nurnberg and then bombard on <unk>. I call them the Berg's when means gases one. He'll cruise takes a very different turn from the Danube from here. The Daniela's a lot about Vienna hops Burg's. It's about even about the east west and the Cold War because a lot of the Danube was Communist River until Nineteen eighty-nine once we get into Germany it's more about deer and Bavaria Baratz. It becomes much more for about basic precious not thinking about this all the intellect step in there's kind of a theme that runs through all these little towns in Germany and she leave Regensburg after a little bit you kind of deviate and you get onto some analysis that eventually take the mind river which eventually takes you to the Rhine River and there are so many locks on this river dozens and dozens of locks if you're really into locks and I think most people take river cruises find that pretty interesting I view locks are fascinating the boat it's raised row lowered and Amin. It's an amazing spectacle but once you've gone through forty locks fifty bucks something like that. It's a good time I'm to spend some time in the lounge and relax going through lock. Actually so the progress you make through Germany and this say the second phase of the journey feels a lot slower moving on smaller water. You're stopping at smaller towns the towns they're closer together. Your concentration is usually a beautiful city with a glass of beer and abroad worst or something I could live with that. I'm not a beer fan but I love the brought so Regensburg and Nuremberg both have brought tradition an aunt says minus better. The other says ours is better. You can sample on your own and see what kind of thing you like. It's pretty cool well and if you're doing that December Christmas market cruise Nurnberg is going to be I would think highlight too because they have have such a beautiful Christmas market. They're absolutely true. Probably a Christmas markets crucial GonNa Start Your Journey Nurnberg or ended in Nuremberg either. Make your way to Budapest or come from Budapest so depending on your thank. You probably won't go too much further into in Germany depending of course on on the on the trip booked a beautiful city also one of the reasons why the Nurenberg trials after World War Two were held in Nurnberg it was one of the cities that was largely intact in Germany Germany where so many were destroyed by allied bombing and so it does have a beautiful old town in the city and the clock there and all of that tradition there and the shops I I enjoyed Nurnberg the I think of only been there one time but quite enjoyed that city when I was working for the National Geographic Expedition I was a destination expert on board the ship and part of my job was to to give these presentations in the evening usually in the while the evening say delayed afternoon when sometimes in the morning depending on sailing schedule and I would try to structure the the talks around things that were significant in Europe were things that I thought that the passengers could benefit from knowing about architecture or history and and also sometimes about particular cities that we're going to be visiting and when we got to Nurnberg was great chance to talk about the Nuremberg laws that can be before will work to of course you know those were the laws that restricted the rights of Jewish citizens citizens and then Nurnberg during the war and number it was actually pretty well destroyed during the war and then the number trials afterwards so it's very interesting city to talk about World War Two around and there's a lot of stuff still to see including the Nazi party rally grounds outside the city and then the new documentation centre the documents that crimes of the Nazi party in the lead up to World War Two and during the war and it's fascinating I'm looking at pictures of Nurnberg after the war and thinking I had the impression that it hadn't been damaged but it's one of those that they rebuilt stone by stone and it fooled me. They don't usually full me that way but you Horizon Ninety Percent Anti Strike Chris Wow interesting done a great job. It is is a beautiful place. They've done a nice job in some places rebuilding it. That's for sure I didn't realize how wrong I was there but I appreciate the correction excellent anything else we want to the bird. Let's move on now towards the Rhine has that that's fine so the first time you get to the Ryan is in route assign which is a city that that's a surprisingly charming place that not many of visitors outside of Germany will ever heard of it never did living in Prague out for nearly thirty years in the I never even heard the word root assign. It's a very nice place. He spent a day. They're like go up. In a Gondola. You see the city from way above there was one of those enormous monuments arguments to the unification or the reunification of Germany in eighteen seventy one when the German principalities and city states united as Germany as the country knows Germany today and then from that monument you can look down on on the town and the Ryen and it's very pretty and then once you get on the boat and lever to sign you go into that the Ryan Gorge or the Middle Rhine Valley. You know however you want to call it. That's that catalog Chris nuts that river Cruz Cadillac doc shot hilltop castles on each side of the river the Danube River for sure on a discounted anyway but the mind is a very small river relatively small river in a long time. You're on canals so once you get on the Ryen you start to remember while I'm really on a river cruise can cause the Rhine really feels like a river when you save the castles along the side also some of the castle's at least one very well-known one right in the middle of the Ryan because these these were collecting tolls they were basically this was the highway that you're going on and if you want some of that money you built your castle where you could take your cut. This was the New Jersey turnpike right. Ah I am not sure that they would appreciate that comparison but no no no no. It's a beautiful stretch of river on if you catch it and happened to catch on on a sunny afternoon and the tour companies are really the river cruise companies really know how to plan plan that trip so you sail through there from one o'clock in the afternoon to say five o'clock in the afternoon by the time you get to Koblenz which would be kind of the end point of that very very beautiful spread and so you have two three four hours Chris up on deck. All you do is sit. There have your drinks. Maybe take your camera out snap a photo of a castle a ruin on top of a hill and then wait for the next grew in it's beautiful. It's really really pretty now we did that when I did the Brian River cruise in the morning actually first thing so we had morning light which was lovely for some of the photography but it was also a October crews and okay the one thing I will say that the disadvantage of those cruises later the season is that time that you'd love to be spending up on deck is a little chillier. I mean I can imagine by Kober. It's probably getting dark vice six o'clock at night sure now you're still going to do at daylight but exactly and the castle in the middle of the river that I was trying to remember the name of is the faults graphing Stein Castle and I'll have a picture of that at this point in the episode. If you're listening to the itunes eight enhanced version quite possibly it will be the iconic photo on the episode on Amateur Travel Dot Com super is a destination expert. I'm presented as a regional expert but I don't know all of those castles or even all of those cities that on our trip it's more of a a European or a a regional experts for me the long afternoon when when passengers come up to be tapped me on the shoulder point to a castle and say now tell me the story of that castle okay I would. I would think you'd start making things up at that point. I Dick Absolute helps to have a very active imagination when he tried to tell some of these stories throw in the cruel stepmother and a little. Oh yeah there's always somebody trapped into dungeon. Always somebody who beautiful daughter with being auctioned off to the next sale or something like that on excellent well in fact the story Laura lie comes from this area. Yes exactly league's <unk> on our boat. We sail right through the Laura lie right. I would say it's particularly treacherous stretch of the Rhine River the site of many accidents it has hidden rocks below the waterline that are not always always used to seep quickly in bad weather and of course myths have built up around that particular part of the river because of its particularly dangerous reputation excellent other things we wanna talk about the Rhine River Gorge UNESCO world on her site. We stopped in Koblenz. That's what we talked for the night and then we take tour at least scenic does I don't know if the other cruise lines do but we go to mark spur castle which is very near Koblenz. It's one of those hilltop castles yeah and we went up there. We take a tour of the castle and then in the evening. We have a medieval joust meal where they raise mead whatever you know it's all in good fun basically but that's that's also part the package and and that castle is it's called Mark Spurt. It's really really beautiful place and the thing I liked about it. The most is that they haven't really gone in and tried to Redo it to make it more authentic looking so in the end. It looks fake that somehow it really feels like they didn't touch this castle so they show you where the latrine was which was like right off the kitchen. I mean it's like it was eight hundred years ago or six hundred years ago or something like that very very interesting place and you really learn a lot about living in those castles and one thing that you really learn is that even though those people who lived on his councils where the wealthiest of the wealthy at the time it will still had a very miserable lonely life living in those tassels. I did did not do that tour. I've got pictures of passing that castle but have not been inside excellent from Koblenz. It's a pretty short hop up to Amsterdam along up when you look at it on a map but the Ryan moves pretty quick and it's a big river river boat can make pretty good time so between there and Amsterdam we only stop and one other place and that's Cologne in Cologne of course our guests have a couple of excursions. They can take a walking tour of the city that includes a tour of the Cologne Cathedral <music> very that enormous Gothic at church survived World War Two bombing when the rest of the did not and then a couple of other excursions in Cologne very modern German city also very pleasant German city seems like people live pretty well there but one thing we did in Cologne that I would recommend to anyone even on a cruise but to make a little side trip over to Duesseldorf. It's not very far only takes an hour forty. Five minutes is something we took a tour of the Neanderthal Museum. Now neander tile is Ryan in Dusseldorf Word Tile Needs Valley so you say the Neanderthal valley a little bit of Oxymoron. It's more on I guess Neanderthal or the Neanderthal man that was actually a valley that was very close to Duesseldorf and you can go through the valley where they found the skeletal remains of the Neanderthal man led had to change a lot of at theories about our evolution as a species on the planet and the museum itself is really well done. It's not just about the neanderthal or the valley but all of the scientific discoveries around the world to try to put together our species at its existence and I think it's really worth sidetrip well and when I was there I learned that the neander valley was named by a local him writer basically one of the calvinist reformed church leaders in Dusseldorf and you can still see his church now. This was a region that was predominantly Catholic and so his church is kind of hidden away because if you had a Protestant Battiston church they were allowed to be there at this time but not to be prominent nobody be deal about it but you can visit the Enders Church and that basically he used to go right his hymns up in this valley that got to be known since he was so a well known as his valley and so- Neanderthal is named after your Kim Neander yes you would expect it to be named after an imminent scientist yeah you know somebody who would know but it's actually not just a kind of talented did relatively ordinary guy when it comes to finding out the origins of our species exactly we've done episodes on Duesseldorf the other thing I would say about Duesseldorf and also bought cone or clone depending on what using the French or the German word for it is is that if you're there in say February ish they both have quite large festivals for Carnival huge huge festivals and that was something that surprised me. I didn't realize because this portion of Germany was Catholic along the Rhine that rare stunning festivals <hes> I was in a parade in Dusseldorf which we talk about in the episode we did that went on for two hours and like a million people I think or something thing like that showed up in costume to it's their version of Halloween with the kids all dressed in costume and people throwing things from the float so definitely if you're there that time of year both those cities compete really with each other. There's a rivalry rivalry between them for how they celebrate that holiday when we were I've been disallowed are the tour guide where we weren't. We said Cologne and she said Oh the enemy which is ridiculous because if you're in one you should go to the other. They're AH beautiful cities but excellent and then Amsterdam of course we have more information about that on the show you mentioned the on Franck House there a needing that time is there one other spot in Amsterdam that people should see that they they don't know about besides the famous art galleries there in the on Franck House. I think are the two best known places to see for me. That's a really busy day. I I don't actually get to see a lot of outside the general stuff scenic in National Geographic in Amsterdam because it's so difficult to actually run a guided tour in Amsterdam mature crowded that instead what they do is to give the guests. I don't know two or three hours or even longer five hours or something with the call free time okay <hes> look. Here's the map you know our information years where the boat is don't get lost have fun for me as the destination expert you know people ask me. What were you going to go for the next few hours like well? I'm just is GONNA take a walk through the town. If you're welcome to walk with me if you'd like or go off on your own and understandably a good percentage of the boat actually comes with me though I ended up leading kind of impromptu tour through Amsterdam we walked along the canals. You know we go through of course the Red Light district. If people had been to Amsterdam when they were kids in our like after their in their university years or shortly after they might remember the Red Light district not for the red lights not even necessarily for the coffee houses. This is for the fact that that was where all the chief youth hostels seems to be so to me that neighborhood feels very familiar so I always like to go back through there and take some of my guess through there and talk about those old days and then we walk the typical stuff we walk right up the main street from the train station taking some of the canals like I said and then maybe go up towards the flower market or towards the cheese market which are pretty close together actually and then come back to the boat and really near taking an impromptu tour of twenty or twenty twenty five people that can take the whole day basically just to make that circuit which is great little walk like what we said when we started the conversation Budapest take some time. And maybe hang out in Amsterdam longer than the cruise because there's just so much more to see and our crews really only skims the surface of what that city has to offer we did offer one specialized excursion to the rights museum that was the National Geographic exclusive with any passenger could could come along and that included a tour of the museum and we caught the very tail end although we didn't see all the rembrandts but we caught the tail end of the Rembrandt and of death <unk> anniversary remembrance death was this we are three hundred and fifty years and the our tour guide was fantastic she found I don't know maybe twenty paintings in that enormous museum and took US each one in ten told us a story about it so gave us a nice little overview so I thought that was eilly worthwhile well and if you're a fan of the Dutch masters that is stunning museum at not just because the paintings are good but some of them are also huge these yes stunning yes paintings where you walk in and the wall is is one of the the Dutch master painting synthetics such absolutely and you mentioned Amsterdam being crowded and it certainly is. It's definitely one of those cities that I would rank as being over touristed probably if you're looking for an alternative in the area. That's a little quieter hitter. I go up to them. Small town beautiful things I mean gets a fair number tours to but no home of Eden Cheese or go over to Harlem so if you can't get tickets for on Franck House go to Corrie ten boom's house us over in Harlem which is another similar story accepted Corrie ten boom was the Dutch person who was hiding the Jewish people in her house is she and her family went off to the concentration camps as she documents in the book the hiding place and she he survive unlike on Francke so that's another similar story and an Harlem is a very sleepy town so that would be an alternative. They're excellent so I think we've covered our artillery here. Are we ready for some wrap up questions here before we start to go into our second or third hour we did fifteen days Chris not bad excellent not bad if I paid you to come up with the prettiest best spot here on these three rivers and a canal or to your standing in front of the prettiest spot where he is standing on. What are you looking at? Its early morning. We're going through Slovakia and where turned around and we're looking get Devon castle which is in Slovak and a ruin. I think the castle dates from eight hundred or nine hundred A._D.. But before that was <hes> maybe a Celtic fortress or some some kind of a place but it's a very forlorn ruin the national history spot for Slovaks and the way that our crews is structured Yuko through their seven in the morning not too. Many people are up at that hour standing there with their coffee when you look up the Danube is beautiful at that spot and it's wow I'm on a river cruise. It's great excellent. One thing that makes you laugh about river cruising the thing that one of the things that makes me laugh about river cruising is the importance of the coffee racial onboard because when you wake up in the morning like I said you WanNa go up on the sun deck that it's very important to get that cup of coffee and we had a really quirky coffee machine on our boat and there was always that moment of suspense when you push the button Latin whether you really going to get a cup of coffee at that moment or not so we would make some jokes about that usually another thing is that in Santa Cruz put a can of pringles for some reason in your cabin. I don't know what to do with hustles. <unk> trade collect them and trade them for for bryce assumed something anyway. It's little stuff like that the best thing about the cruises and the things that do make you laugh are the fact that you do meet people in fifteen days become quite close to people on Borja votes you make friendships you have so much shared experience and you start laughing about everything. Start laughing about the cruise directory start laughing about the boat about the guy who serve you the food or about each other. It's not malicious laughter in anyways on your back in school all of a sudden with your friends. One thing we didn't talk about that is Quirky With River cruising that they do on most river cruises I've been on is the quiet boxes or the quiet boxes where you as you do your guided tours you often are given a receiver and earplugs so that you can wander away from the Guide and the guy doesn't have to be yelling at you and you can hear they're are talking and that's something that is pretty common on river cruises. I I'm assuming scenic has that as well yes what they've done. Though is they used to have what they called their tailor-made device which was actually separate separate audio guide what they've done now nowadays they've gotten rid of that and put the all that information on an APP on your telephone. Oh interesting if you don't have an iphone or equivalent a relatively modern one you ought to think about investing in one before you take a river cruise because you're probably GonNa need it just to hear you're the guides talk interesting yeah. No it makes perfect sense rather than having the Taylor may device well and the other thing. I always liked about that to be honest was. I don't like to pretend that I'm with that large group of people and so I'm at the other end of the square taking pictures I I'm not with them and I would take out their headphones and put in my white ear buds and you couldn't tell that I was with that group. I it's just me possibly but you can get a fair ways away and then of course you have to keep an eye out for when they turn around the corner when you start losing them because they have walked away from you absolutely excellent our guest again has been a mark Baker a travel writer guidebook author mark. Do you have any posts on your own blog about river cruising direct people to as a good example of what to learn sort of listeners to I've written several times in the last several months about river cruises what to expect what cabins look like just what you do and some interesting interesting things anyway. It's all on my blog and my blog's U._R._l.. Is W._W._W.. Dot Marc Baker prog one word DOT COM so mark Baker prog dot com excellent well mark. Thanks so much for coming back back on the show at also encourage people to go back and listen to that show about the Volga also with mark and Marcus also been on this week and travel as well and thanks for sharing with us your love for the river cruise and for the Danube absolutely absolutely my pleasure thank you in news of the community had a correction from mark who is listening to the episode we did on Southwest Colorado and he said as a Colorado native I just wanted to update the pronunciation of and then I'm going to spell it. Oh you are a y. It's Year Ray not ray and yes. It's a bucket list mining town. Southwest Colorado has the most dramatic scenery of the state in my opinion it isn't swamped with with the tourists and money that Central Colorado Vail Aspen etc though telluride obviously could be lumped with those thanks so much mark and then I got some feedback from Nathan that made me laugh he said among other things I enjoy listening into your podcast more than any other travelling podcast since you bring such a great personality with Your Voice I'm in the habit of saying excellent over a dozen times each day since you reply to your guests excellent when they share their place used to visit when the appropriate time comes in a discussion with my peers about travel I recommend your show and have them listen to. It and I got my wife to join in listening with me. While I drive in the car I even enjoy listening to your show while getting a workout in keep up the great work. You're we're doing Nathan and I had to laugh because I'm just so aware that I say excellent a lot and I've certainly been critiqued for it fairly but we've done a lot of shows and it's just a habit that is ingrained and I honestly don't think I'm going to be able to stop it. So I appreciate the Nathan you have leaned into who had with that. We're going to end this episode of amateur traveller. If you have any questions send an email to hosted amateur traveler dot com or better yet. Leave a comment on this episode that Amateur Traveler Dot Com or join the mailing list also at the same website.